Dealing With Ice On Steps

Now that we’re in the middle of winter, you’ll have to deal with ice on your outside steps. Trying to gain traction on ice can be a difficult endeavor at best. However, when trying to do so on steps, it can be even worse.

Ice and snow on steps can be precarious and calls for special precautions to prevent falls.
(Courtesy: Emillio Orsi at

Rock salt could be the most popular means for dealing with ice not just on steps, but also on driveways and pathways. However, rock salt may not be your best alternative because it can damage concrete, corrode wooden decks and kill grass or plants that may be nearby. And since rock salt is most commonly used to just deal with ice, there’s a good possibility that you don’t even have some on hand.

There are other alternatives you can use that you probably have easy access to. They include table salt, sand, cat litter, Comet or Ajax Cleanser, and dirt or soil.

Table Salt

What household does not have table salt? It is one of the most popular ingredients used to flavor foods. Regular table salt melts ice on contact almost immediately. Take your container of table salt and dust some onto the ice on your steps and then spread it out so you get traction.

Sea salt also works. Its grains are large and it offers great traction on ice. Many consider both a better alternative to rock salt because they are less expensive.

Be aware that old table salt that has been sitting around for as long as a year or more might not provide the melting power or traction that fresh table salt would.


Sand is another great alternative. If you have a sand box in the backyard for your children to play in, you can simply take what you need from there and throw a few handfuls of the stuff on to the ice. Use a shovel to spread it out to create traction.

Sand is also ideal for getting your car out of the snowy and icy driveway. Throw some under the tires. That will provide enough traction and help to prevent the wheels from spinning.

Cat Litter

If you have a cat, then you’re ready to deal with snow and ice outside your home at any time. The cat litter is made of abrasive, rock-like minerals that offer great traction. Throw a little litter on each step and then spread it around with a snow shovel or your hands.

And, just like salt, it provides traction for your car’s tires to get out of snow or off the ice.

Comet Or Ajax Cleanser

Comet, Ajax or any generic cleanser is not only good for scrubbing pots and pans clean, it can also serve as a solution to help you deal with ice on steps. Cleansers have an abrasive texture that helps create traction. Just throw some straight out of the can and onto the ice. The substance works on ice as it does on grease. It is suggested that you use a modest amount and spread it out evenly over the ice.

Dirt Or Soil

You may want to save some dirt or soil from your garden to use on slippery ice on steps after a winter storm. Spread the stuff out over the ice and spread around with a shovel or your hands. Dirt or soil won’t melt the ice, but it will offer great traction so that you can make it up or down the steps without falling. Use soil that has no clumps or debris.

No doubt you will be tempted to use hot water to clear away ice and snow from not only steps, but also from the driveway, walkway, and sidewalks. Don’t do it! Although it is true that the hot water will melt the ice and snow, the moisture that is left will freeze and create the ice that you’ve been working so hard to remove.

The chart below lists ingredients that can melt ice and also includes the lowest temperatures each works down to.


About Robert Janis

Written by Robert Janis for LawnEq - Your specialists for Lawn Mower Parts and Small Engine Parts. We offer genuine premium OEM parts for Land Pride, Toro and many more dependable manufacturers.