When To Salt The Driveway – Before Or After Snow?

When inclement weather shows up, it's essential to have a clear driveway to get around when needed. However, you might be wondering about the best time to salt a driveway in the event of snow, sleet, or freezing rain. Are there any alternatives to salt that help keep driveways clear and cut down on time spent removing slippery hazards? We did the research to help you uncover helpful solutions for your driveway. 

It can be a real chore to remove snow, ice, and sleet from the driveway before heading out. So, knowing when to sprinkle salt can be essential to safe mobility. Rock salt should be placed down after you shovel to prevent ice buildup under a layer of unshoveled snow. It is suggested to apply ice melt ahead of an approaching snowstorm to make snow removal easier. 

Keeping a driveway free and clear of hazardous piles of snow, black ice, and sleet is a matter of safety and comfort. Read about how and when to use salt and snow-melting alternatives for a clean driveway.

A shovel on a driveway during winter snow, When To Salt The Driveway - Before Or After Snow?

Clearing The Driveway

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Clearing driveway snow with a shovel

When a snowstorm arrives, it's time to break out the snowblower, a shovel, and lug a bag of salt to clean up snow and ice left behind. But what solutions are available to make clearing a driveway faster and painless? Knowing when to apply salt or ice melt to a driveway can make a world of difference when winter weather arrives. Don't have any rock salt or ice melt? Not to worry, we cover various alternatives to keep a driveway snow-free so you can roll out unobstructed.

People love using de-icers because it helps soften up built-up snow and ice, making it easier to remove. However, not all de-icing agents provide the same level of results, and some agents can even leave behind residue or contribute to wear-and-tear over time. Many natural alternatives warm up with the sun to melt away pesky snow and ice that create slippery, dangerous conditions.

Be advised, most salts and de-icers stop working well past -15 degrees Fahrenheit. Magnesium chloride is one of the best options to battle melting snow and ice when temperatures plunge. And, if temperatures are so cold that your ice melt or snow isn't as effective, consider applying a layer of sand, kitty litter, or coffee grounds to provide traction.

Is Ice Melt Better Than Salt?

In some ways, ice melt might be better than using rock salt because it typically works faster and doesn't leave behind hardened pellets. When applying ice melt, a little goes a long way, as putting down too much can harm vegetation, doesn't boost effectiveness, and can leech into areas that are unsealed. Ice melt is designed to be used before an approaching storm, so dangerous layers of unseen ice under piles of snow are eradicated.

The success point of using ice melt to clear a driveway is due to it creating a barrier that resists the buildup of ice. Remember to look into what temperatures your choice of ice melt covers, as some products are more effective at different degrees and weather conditions. Use ice melt in place of salt if you have children, pets, or want to minimize salt damage.

Check out this fast-acting ice melt on Amazon.

What Can I Use Instead Of Salt On My Driveway?

Some homeowners are apprehensive about using salt on their driveway for a few reasons. First off, salt can cause damage to an unsealed asphalt or concrete driveway over time, leading to cracks, bumps, potholes, and discoloration. Rock salt's very nature makes it perfect for getting rid of snow, but years of accumulated applications to a driveway can eventually wreak havoc.

If you insist on using salt to clear a driveway, invest in sealing your property to prevent salt from leeching into vulnerable crevices and nooks. Additionally, you can use an alternative that is gentler on concrete surfaces than rock salt. The following are a handful of natural and mechanical methods that can melt snow without contributing to unforeseen damage.

  • Alfalfa Meal
  • Ashes
  • Coffee Grinds
  • Sand
  • Sugar Beet Juice
  • Snow Melting Mats
  • Vinegar

Depending on where you live, the aforementioned items may prove helpful with de-icing and clearing a concrete driveway and are fairly inexpensive.

Should I Salt My Driveway Before Freezing Rain?

Don't fear that any oncoming freezing rain will wash away salt you sprinkle on a driveway deter you from applying a de-icer. If freezing rain is on the way, it is best to prep your driveway with a modest layer of rock salt to create a barrier to resist ice. Pre-treating the driveway reduces the strength of any ice trying to gain a foothold on the surface and makes removal of any potential snow or ice following the rain a cinch.

Does Rain Wash Away Salt?

It may seem foolhardy to apply salt to an area before freezing rain hits. After all, rain can slowly wash away salt and other de-icers. However, due to the properties of rock salt and other ice and snow-removal agents, it takes a lot of rain over time to fully remove any applied substances. Don't rely on rain to wash away salt as the seasons change. Scoop up any residue left behind and wash down surfaces to protect against salt-related damage.

What Is The Safest Salt For Concrete?

Worker spreading salt on icy sidewalk

A salt using calcium magnesium acetate is a safe de-icer to apply to concrete without creating too much damage. A second option is magnesium chloride, which is a bit more expensive than calcium chloride and sodium chloride, but it gets the job done. When using any type of salt, less is more. Do not over-apply any type of salt or de-icer on concrete, as it can create build-up, harm neighboring plants, and get tracked onto rugs or carpets, causing damage.

No salt is 100% safe on concrete, as any residue left behind can seep into cracks, unsealed crevices, and shift around in run-off. It is essential to choose salt or de-icer with the best exothermic properties that work efficiently without applying to much to the concrete. After using salt or a de-icer it is a good practice to wash down the area so it won't contribute to corrosion, once the weather clears.

Check out this non-toxic magnesium chloride-based ice melt on Amazon.

Do Coffee Grounds Melt Ice?

Coffee beans on coffee grounds

Used coffee grounds are a popular natural item used to melt ice, and it provides two beneficial points. One, because coffee grounds are naturally acidic, if you sprinkle it on a freshly shoveled driveway, any ice that comes in contact will melt away. Second, coffee grounds have a similar texture to sand, which helps create traction when driving or walking on the surface.

In Closing

After reading this article, we hope you take away some helpful tips and tricks to clear snow from a driveway like a pro. Whether you choose to use rock salt, ice melt, or another snow-clearing agent, we want you to feel confident in your choices. Knowing when to apply rock salt to your driveway reduces time spent removing snow, so you can hit the road.

Before you go, check out the following articles related to your home life outdoors.

21 Paver Driveway Ideas To Consider

Should You Cover Outdoor Furniture? [Breakdown By Season]

Does Aluminum Outdoor Furniture Rust?

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