Salt, fertilizer, or kitty litter? What’s the best method to defrost frozen sidewalks when you’re in a pinch?


The pickling salts, the fertilizer or kitty litter? There’s a consensus that everyone has suggestions for what to put on the streets of the LowerMainland that are icy and sidewalks, especially now that road salt has become out of stock.

To find out the best home remedies worth your time we decided to try some of them.

Along with scientist teacher Sam Marriott from Science World in Vancouver we applied road salt on top of these suggestions:

  • Table salt.
  • Fertilizer.
  • Cabbage juice.
  • Vinegar.
  • Kitty litter.
  • Sand.

The two latter ones are able to create traction. As Marriott mentions that their darker colors are also helpful in melting ice, as they absorb more warmth from the sun.



After each method had been given one hour to complete its work, we observed that both table salt and fertilizer (which is mostly composed of salts) caused a melting of a portion of the ice’s surface and reduced its slippery.


But, the table salt appeared to produce the most effective defrosting effect. According to Marriott, this could be due in part to table salt being less coarse in texture than fertilizer and road salt that we tested, which allows greater amounts of the salt to come in contact with the frozen ice.


Although fertilizers can be effective however, it is not recommended to rely on it as large quantities can cause death to plants and become poisonous if eaten by animals.

Both these liquids — vinegar and cabbage juice and vinegar had little effect on the ice. In actual fact, those test patches were even more slippery.


For an traction effect, the cat litter and sand performed the task. They provided the grip of ice, however the litter can create clumps of clay when the ice has melted.


Final Verdict

Marriott claims that If she had to pick one of the options and time was the most important factor she’d choose Sand.

It is quick to move It is also cost-effective and will not cause environmental harm.

If you’re able to just wait for the ice melt, she suggests that traditional road salt remains the most efficient method.


However, she suggests that the most important thing is to put the salt on your surface prior to the snow falling, so it can prevent snow from sticking to the surface. Remember, however, that excessive amounts of salt aren’t good for concrete or for your animals and plants.

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