A thick layer of snow covers your town overnight. Your driveway, porch, and car are covered in ice. What if all you have in your arsenal is water softener salt? Will that be enough? Read on as we discuss whether you can use water softener salt to melt ice in a pinch. Can you use water softener salt to melt ice? To give you the short answer: yes, you can use water softener salt pellets, crystals, cubes, or blocks to melt ice. But just because you can, does that mean you should? To thoroughly understand if this method of melting ice is a-okay, we'll need to explore the long answer. We'll first look at the commonly used methods for melting ice. Then we'll try to understand how water softener salt can be used for this purpose. And lastly, we'll discuss if using water softener salt is better than other methods. What are the commonly used methods in melting ice? Ideally, when you know the snowy season is coming to your part of the world, these are a few methods you'll have prepared to melt the inevitable onslaught of ice. Rock Salt You might not be surprised to find that rock salt is almost always the only content of products called "sidewalk salt." Using rock salt is probably the most popular method out there for melting ice. Rock salt is not to be confused with table salt though both are composed mainly of sodium chloride. The latter is purified for human consumption. Meanwhile, the former still has all the impurities of unprocessed sodium chloride that come with the natural form of salt. Being cost-effective, fairly accessible (when bought well before an oncoming storm), and functional as an ice melter all contribute to rock salt's popularity. On top of all this, being a type of coarse salt makes rock salt useful for creating traction, helping make melted snow less slippery. Ice Melt Salt A direct rival of rock salt, ice melt salts or ice melts are de-icing products made of blends of the same ingredients: sodium chloride, calcium chloride, or magnesium chloride. You'll notice that these are all chloride compounds. Though a lot more expensive than rock salt, ice melt is preferred by many because it can work on surfaces down to -25 degrees Fahrenheit. As a refresher, the freezing point of water is 32 degrees Fahrenheit. In comparison, rock salt is not effective for surfaces below 5 degrees Fahrenheit. Rubbing Alcohol Isopropyl alcohol, more commonly referred to as rubbing alcohol, isn't the number one go-to for melting ice but can still deliver in a jiff. Do take note that pouring isopropyl alcohol all over your lawn and sidewalk isn't the most efficient method. Not to mention doing so will make things expensive real fast. For a more cost-effective and efficient method, you'll need to make a homemade ice melt. You'll need 1\/2 gallon of hot water, 1\/4 cup of isopropyl alcohol, and six drops of concentrated dish soap. After pouring the solution, make sure to shovel away any excess solution to keep it from refreezing. Vinegar Vinegar, like isopropyl alcohol, can lower the melting point of ice. It's not as fast or efficient as rock salt and ice melt, but it can melt snow enough to make it easier to shovel. Like the example above, it will be more efficient and cost-effective to make a homemade ice melt using equal parts vinegar and hot water. Just remember to shovel away any excess solution to avoid refreezing. Coffee Grounds If you happen to already collect coffee grinds for composting, then this might come as good news for you. Yes, this often composted organic debris is also used to melt ice in a pinch. The nitrogen in coffee grounds helps lower the melting point of ice. Additionally, medium-coarse coffee grinds can help reduce the slipperiness of surfaces. Fertiliser It's well-known by many how rock salt and some blends of ice melt can be damaging to concrete and land. The brine solution that forms from salt melting ice contains a lot of chlorine. This is corrosive to concrete and harmful to plants and the general fertility of the soil. With this knowledge, many homeowners choose to use fertiliser instead to melt ice in their yard. Many fertiliser blends have urea, ammonium sulfate, or potassium chloride, which all help to lower the melting point of ice. It's far from being as fast as rock salt and ice melt. But chances are, you already have a bag lying in your garage shed that can be used in desperate times. Sugar Beet Juice This is probably the method you'll be most surprised to see in this list. Yet, it is true that sugar beet juice can be used to melt ice. In a similar way to rock salt, sugar beet juice lowers the melting point of ice and snow. Though unconventional, knowing that it can also help melt ice can add another method to your arsenal. Snow Melting Mats This method is the most expensive on the list. But snow melting mats are incredibly useful, especially if your goal is to never shovel snow off your driveway ever again. The way these ingenious devices work is simply by generating heat that melts ice and snow on top of it. Buying and installing snow melting mats will cost more than a bag of salt, especially if you want to cover a huge surface area. But the cost can be worth the benefit of eliminating the need for shovelling. How does water softener salt melt ice? What's in water softener salt? To answer this question, we first need to know what's in water softener salt in the first place. Like rock salt and table salt, water softener salt is most commonly made of sodium chloride. Some water softener salt variants use potassium chloride as an alternative to sodium chloride. Water softener salt is made of the same compound as the popular de-icing material rock salt. With that, we can expect water softener salt to be useful for melting snow. You'll find water softener salts available in crystals, pellets, cubes, and blocks. In terms of appearance, water softener salt crystals are the nearest to rock salt. How does water softener salt melt ice? Now, knowing that it should work, the question is, does it? And how exactly? Like all of the ice melters we've discussed above, water softener salt also works by lowering the melting point of ice. To encourage an effective melting process, you'll want to lay your water softener salt in layers. Ideally, you'll want to spread a thin layer on the designated surface before a storm, another layer during the storm, and one final layer after. This method is very efficient to melt ice faster and more evenly when using any kind of salt-based ice melter. Additionally, having water softener salt crystals will be handier than water softener salt pellets, cubes, and blocks for melting snow. Salt crystals will be easier to scatter compared to pellets, cubes, and blocks. With that said, you can still make use of water softener salt pellets, cubes, and blocks to melt the ice. You'll just need to crush them enough to make them easier to spread into a thin layer. An additional bonus to using crushed water softener salt pellets, cubes, and blocks is the traction they will provide to surfaces. Is water softener salt better than other methods? Knowing that water softener salt can melt ice, does this mean you should use this method over others? Before you forego other methods in favour of water softening salt, you'll need to consider several things. Water softener salt is not as fast as rock salt and ice melt salt. Of course, water softener salt is leagues better than table salt. But compared to products specifically created to melt the ice off your surfaces, water softening salt doesn't stand a chance. Rock salt and ice melt salt work better and faster for that purpose. Products meant to de-ice, especially ice melt salt containing calcium chloride, will work better and faster if you're in below freezing point weather. Ice melts with calcium chloride work down to -25 degrees Fahrenheit. Water softener salt is more expensive compared to rock salt and ice melt salt. You'll be saving significantly more money by having proper ice melters prepared well before an oncoming storm. Water softener salt is significantly more expensive compared to something like sidewalk salt that you can buy in bulk. You may also find, depending on your situation, that other common methods to melt ice are cheaper than using water softener salts. Conclusion Yes, you can use water softener salt to melt ice. But it's typically only ideal to do when you've run out of options. It's an effective option when you find yourself in need of a quick fix, just not as a permanent solution for your ice melting problems. With that, do remember to stock up on ice melters well before snowy seasons roll in.