Fertilizer is an excellent additive for many kinds of plants. And, it also has a few other uses, too. One theory stands that you can use fertilizer to melt ice in the winter, but many people wonder if this is true.
Fertilizers can help melt ice during the wintertime, and some options work better than others. Salt, nitrogen, and other chemical-inducing ingredients can help break up ice and snow during the cold seasons of the year.
In this article, I will discuss how fertilizer can melt ice during the wintertime and offer up a few recommended fertilizers for doing so.
The Melting Components of Fertilizer
As many know, snow and ice melt from the heat or certain substances and chemicals. Luckily, fertilizers of all kinds contain such substances, which makes them an unusual but sound alternative for melting ice during the wintertime.
One of the most common ingredients that help break up ice and snow is salt. Fertilizer contains ingredients that are relatively high in salt, such as nitrogen.
Unfortunately, traditional salt can ruin a sidewalk or even a driveway. Because of this, many seek something more intact. Here are a few ingredients to look for when finding a solution for melting ice:
- Magnesium Chloride
- Calcium Chloride
There are fertilizers on the market specifically made for melting ice during the winter. Although traditional fertilizers for plants and lawns can work, other options are available.
Is It Safe To Use Fertilizer To Melt Ice?
Anyone living in a cold climate knows that finding the best solutions for handling snow and ice is necessary. However, some solutions are not helpful in the long term. One of those methods might just be using fertilizer to melt ice.
Using fertilizer to melt ice is not the safest method for melting ice because of the fertilizer’s chemicals. The chemicals and substances can spread into the groundwater, causing toxic runoff, and cement could potentially crack.
With plants, one of the significant concerns is fertilizer burn. Fertilizer burn comes from over-fertilization, and it also leads to toxic runoff, which can ruin the soil and nearby plants.
When applying fertilizing to melt ice, the same thing can happen. As the ice melts and drains, the fertilizer will go with it. Unfortunately, many of the chemicals can leak into the nearby groundwater.
Luckily, there are natural solutions to melting ice using fertilizers and precautions that individuals can take:
- Make a homemade fertilizer with soap, alcohol, and hot water to melt ice.
- Choose a fertilizer that is designed for melting ice rather than for plants.
- Take precautions when melting ice by confirming that there is no nearby soil where toxic runoff can occur.
- Use small amounts of fertilizer to begin.
- Choose a fertilizer that has natural ingredients rather than synthetic ones.
- Make sure to follow the directions for application properly.
Although, in theory, you can use any fertilizer you own to melt ice, it is best to find one made for melting ice. Many have had great success with alfalfa meal or urea. These are safer than using salt and accomplish the job of melting ice.
Should I Use an Ice Melter Instead of Fertilizer?
It’s no secret that chemicals in fertilizer cause damage to the environment. Gardeners are aware and hopefully, you are too. Fortunately, there are other products on the market that can help like ice melters.
You should use an ice melter instead of a fertilizer to melt ice because it will protect the concrete and prevent toxic runoff. Ice melters are designed for ice only, and will not contain hazardous chemicals that can create serious environmental issues for you.
Fertilizers and ice melters can get the same job done, but they do it with different ingredients. Depending on your preference, either will work to accomplish melting your ice during the wintertime.
Ice melters, however, contain different main ingredients than fertilizers:
- Sodium chloride
- Magnesium chloride
- Calcium chloride
- Potassium chloride
The most common ingredient in ice melters is calcium chloride. It has been proven to work the quickest and is most effective in the long term. However, not all ice melts tend to perform as efficiently.
Depending on the brand you choose, some can be rather toxic while others are not. It all depends on the brand you choose. If you choose to use an ice melt over a fertilizer, individuals may want to consider the following:
- Determine how much ice needs melting. This can help individuals figure out how much ice melt they need and the toxicity level they can tolerate. Some ingredients are stronger than others and some ingredients take longer to use.
- Locate the area of the ice. Melting ice on cement requires an entirely different process than it would on the ground. Certain ingredients can, unfortunately, be destructive to cement. Meanwhile, ice on the ground can be treated differently. Regardless, an ice melter is recommended for both situations.
- Determine if kids or pets will be around the ice melt. Certain ingredients in ice melters are more toxic than others. Sodium chloride is not as toxic and is recommended if you have pets or children. Pets and children may get the ice melter on their hands or feet, and it could lead to them ingesting it.
- Decide how often you will need to use your ice melter. If you live in a cold region that snows often, you may want to find a long term solution for melting ice. If you need a long-term solution, it is best to use an ingredient that is not too harmful but still gets the job done.
Recommended Ice Melters
Like fertilizers, some ice melters work wonderfully while others do not. And there are a ton on the market today. When choosing an ice melter, it is best to find one that works well for your environment and is safe for pets and children.
Making a Homemade Alternative for Melting Ice
If melting ice with fertilizer makes you nervous because you’re a garden fanatic, you may want to try an alternative option. Melting ice with an alternative mixture works the same as fertilizer and can preserve your groundwater, soil, and cement.
Before beginning, you will need the following:
- A large bucket
- Access to hot water
- Rubbing alcohol
- Sawdust, sand, kitty litter, or something that provides friction
Once you have these ingredients, add a large amount of water to your bucket. Preferably, the water will be hot and close to boiling.
Next, you will add a few drops of soap and ¼ a cup (60 ml) of rubbing alcohol to your mixture. You can mix these ingredients together and then pour them on the ice.
Your ice should begin to soften up, bubble, and become more tolerable to handle. You can shovel the ice away to clear driveways and paths.
Once you do that, it’s important to add something to your wet cement or driveway for safety. Any type of material can work, but sawdust or sand work best.
All in all, fertilizer is a great option to consider when melting ice. It gets the job done, has all the proper ingredients, and can make your life a lot easier. If you have extra fertilizer sitting around at home, you can use it to melt ice.
However, ice melters and alternative options are also great to consider instead of fertilizer. At the end of the day, everyone wants the job accomplished in a safe way.