Winters can be harsh and wreak havoc on your daily life, especially if you have heavy precipitation in your region. Ice and snow cause problems with roofs, decks, cars, and roads, including getting to and from work.
Preparation is key, and having ice melts on hand to help you navigate out of your driveway and onto roads that are treated by the city or government agency is crucial to avoiding slip and slide accidents at home. Ice melts are a great option and work especially well for an asphalt driveway.
Of course, you don’t want to cause any damage to your property, so it’s good to know the best ice melt for asphalt driveway use.
Will Ice Melt Damage Asphalt?
When it comes to driveway materials, the most commonly used are concrete and asphalt. Concrete can be finicky, and you have to take some precautions with the materials you use to treat it, including the compounds in the ice melts you use to clear ice and snow from the driveway. However, asphalt is much more resilient. You can choose from a wider variety of chemicals and materials you use to treat your asphalt driveway when it’s frozen.
In fact, ice melts are safer for your asphalt driveway than shoveling snow or trying to break ice. The shovel can easily chip away at asphalt or crack right through it in some frozen conditions. With ice melts, the ice begins to melt and run off, so you don’t have any manual labor involved and don’t have to worry about damaging your driveway.
What Types of Ice Melt are Safe for Asphalt?
You have lots of options for treating your asphalt driveway with ice melts. The typical go-to idea for melting ice is a salt compound containing chloride. Of course, these are safer to use on asphalt than on concrete. However, you’ll need to clean up quickly after the freeze, as salt (chloride compounds) can cause freeze/thaw cycles to eventually cause damage to the asphalt.
Beyond this, many new options are available that don’t cause this sort of damage, even with long-term use. In addition, these other compounds make the best ice melt for asphalt driveways because they are less toxic to the environment. Remember that rock salt and chloride are harmful to children, animals, and even vegetation, so you may want to consider a different option.
Are There Any Types of Ice Melt to Avoid on Asphalt?
As mentioned, while working well in most circumstances for melting the ice in your asphalt driveway, salt compounds should likely be avoided. They cause damage with rapid freeze/thaw cycles, which can lead to flaking of the asphalt and other decomposing dangers over time.
Also, they can lead to eventual cracking of the asphalt, allowing water to enter and refreeze in these cracks. Water frozen in asphalt can cause it to break, which means your driveway loses both its strength and curb appeal.
The main salt compounds used in rock salt ice melt are sodium chloride (general table salt), calcium chloride (which is often used because it functions better at low temperatures), and magnesium or potassium chloride (table salt alternatives).
These can also be toxic to children and animals in any large quantity, making it dangerous to use. In addition, because salt can draw in the water and draw it away from vegetation, you could damage your plants very quickly by spreading rock salt ice melts.
Instead, try these alternatives that are safe for both your plants and your family.
10 Best Ice Melts for Asphalt Driveway
If you’re preparing for the winter onslaught of snow and ice, it’s good to think ahead and get plenty of ice melts to meet your needs. At the same time, you want to be sure you have the best ice melts for your asphalt driveway. Here are ten of the best options available that won’t damage your driveway or put children, plants, and animals at risk, protecting all of your key investments in life.
If you’re looking for a quick fix that melts ice fast at low temperatures, Safe Step Rock Salt Ice Melter Sodium Chloride is one way to go. It’s rated to melt ice even when temperatures drop as low as 5 degrees Fahrenheit (-15 degrees Celsius).
It’s important that, as slush appears, you remove it quickly and easily with a rake or outdoor broom so that the sodium chloride doesn’t cause problems on your asphalt driveway. It also keeps the slush from refreezing in piles. The ice melt is sold in 25-pound bags and should be spread evenly over the space you’re trying to thaw.
Green Gobbler Pet Safe Ice Melt Fast Action Treatment is made from the magnesium-based salt harvested from the Dead Sea, which if not ingested, is actually therapeutic to the body. It releases heat when activated by moisture, melting your iced asphalt driveway at temperatures down to -10 Fahrenheit.
It is specially formulated to have extremely low toxicity levels, making it a safer solution for children, animals, and plants than sodium chloride. It works well with spreaders, making it extremely easy to distribute evenly over the frozen space so you don’t get clumps, ice melt, and bare areas in between.
The reason Snow Joe Melt-2-Go Pure Calcium Chloride Pellet Ice Melter is highly recommended is that it is professional-grade, with a 94% pure calcium chloride content. This means it’s highly effective at extreme temperatures ranging down to -25 Fahrenheit.
It also means it begins to work on contact, with instant heat release and extremely fast and efficient work in the melting process. You’ll find that the ice melts at almost record speeds, and these ice melts come in large quantities like 50 pound bags. They can cover a very large area, or you can reseal the bags and keep what’s left for the next freeze. Again, because it’s calcium chloride, make sure you remove slush quickly to avoid potential damage to your asphalt driveway.
If you want to try something that is chloride-free and rated completely safe for kids, furry creatures, and vegetation, try Safe Paw Salt-Free Ice Melt. It has a proprietary formula that is non-corrosive, so aside from being safe on asphalt driveways, it can also be used on concrete without damage.
Although it isn’t as conveniently inexpensive as chloride solutions, it’s guaranteed to be safe for skin and plant contact and pet safe in case it is ingested. In addition, it still works at extremely low temperatures, rated as effective down to -2 degrees Fahrenheit. This also makes it viable on lawns so you can still enjoy your backyard during the winter.
Unlike regular rock salt, HARRI Kind Melt Pet Friendly Ice Melt comes in round pellets rather than jagged, sharp pieces. This makes it safer for pets and other animals that may walk through it with tender paws outdoors.
In addition, the product is made with magnesium chloride, which is less corrosive than other formulas and works quickly on ice and snow on any surface. The product is currently registered with OMRI (Organic Minerals Research Institute) for organic use.
As a blend of two kinds of salt, Scotwood Industries Road Runner Premium Ice Melter works well on asphalt and, as long as slush is removed as it forms, is much less damaging to asphalt than many other ice melts on the market.
It’s colorless and odorless so doesn’t attract animals, and the blend of magnesium and potassium chloride works at temperatures as low as -15 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s formulated to be safe for the environment, including when it comes into direct contact with plants and the soil around them.
With National Blue Ice Melt, you get a lot of advantages, including a faster melt of ice from your concrete than a 50% calcium chloride solution.
At the same time, it’s formulated to be completely safe for plants, animals, and people, free of magnesium and containing only 10% calcium chloride, keeping it rated safe for asphalt. It works at very low temperatures, maintaining integrity in doing its job as low as -15 Fahrenheit. It contains 2 accelerants that truly make this a fast solution to your ice problem.
While there is still magnesium chloride in EasyPath Pet & Plant-Safe Magnesium Chloride Pellets, the concentration of chloride is far lower than many other compounds, making it non-toxic for plants and animals. It’s also far less harsh on your asphalt driveway than most rock salts and ice melts. The pellets are round, not sharp or jagged, and the container has a shaker lid, much like salt and pepper, that makes application easy. It’s also a bit less expensive than many non-toxic options, making it cost-effective enough to avoid concern over being less affordable than other pet-safe compounds.
Earthborn Elements Snow Melt is pure, premium calcium chloride that works at some of the lowest temperatures of any ice melt product. Rated for down to -25 Fahrenheit, you can’t beat the efficacy of the compound.
Of course, make sure you keep pets and children away from the product, and remove slush buildup from your asphalt driveway as quickly as possible to avoid damage. These ice melts are also packaged nicely in a resealable tub that can keep children and animals out of it. It comes with a scoop that makes even application easy, so you don’t have piles and spaces leading to uneven ice melting.
Morton is known for the production of table salt, but they also manufacture Morton Snow & Ice Melt. While they have calcium chloride blends, they also have the Safe-T-Pet version of their ice melt, which uses a urea blend. This is safe for pets, as well as your asphalt driveway.
It doesn’t take much, and one 8-pound jug is expected to cover 2 single-car driveways with ease, using it both before and after a heavy storm. You can also rest assured that this particular ice melt will work at temperatures as low as -13 degrees Fahrenheit.
Can Ice Melt Leave Chalk Residue on Asphalt Driveways?
It is true that you could have unsightly streaks on your asphalt driveway after using some ice melts. This is typical of calcium chloride, as calcium is often used to make chalk. At the same time, other chloride compounds aren’t as likely to leave noticeable residue.
In addition, removing the slush as it melts is far less likely to have any white residue on your clean, black asphalt. Also, if your asphalt driveway is sealed, it is much easier to rinse it clean of any residue after the freeze ends.
Be Aware of Pet Safe Options
Don’t forget that chloride compounds, especially calcium chloride or any salt compound in high concentration, can be toxic to pets. Find a safe option with a recommendation by vets or a rating of pet safety. If you can’t find something exemplary like this, at least assure your ice melts have a very low chloride content to avoid overall toxicity to animals and vegetation.
Be Aware Ice Melt Can Kill Vegetation
As mentioned previously, the same is true of chloride salts with vegetation as with animals. These ingredients – whether calcium, potassium, or magnesium chloride – are salts. Just as with people, salt can lead to dehydration, and when applied to plants, the ice melts are pulling moisture out of the soil and pulling it from your greenery. Dehydrating plants is an instant death sentence.
It’s important to keep your home safe and your own health and well-being, which requires assuring you can get where you need to go safely. At the same time, you don’t want to use chemicals that could lead to harm to your children, pets, or landscaping.
You also don’t want to compromise the integrity or appearance of your driveway. That’s why you need to find the best ice melt for asphalt driveway before you invest in your winterization projects. With a little extra knowledge of how you can keep your investments safe and out of harm’s way, you can manage to keep your driveway clear, even in the roughest winter weather.
Jamie is the founder of The Backyard Pros. When he was 15 years old he started working at a garden centre helping people buy plants, gardening products, and lawn care products. He has real estate experience and he is a home owner. Jamie loves backyard projects, refinishing furniture, and enjoys sharing his knowledge online.