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Rock salt not your only option for melting ice

By John Craven, Reporter, JCraven@wfmz.com
Published On: Feb 12 2014 05:24:35 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 13 2014 06:23:18 AM CST

With most stores out of rock salt, you do have other options.

At hardware stores, there's one thing people want.

"I'm looking for salt," said Melissa Loheide, of Quakertown, Bucks Co.

It's the one thing almost no one has in stock.

"Currently out of rock salt, shovels, generators," said Glenn Girard, an assistant manager of the Lowe's in Quakertown.

The store does have sand for traction, though. It also has fertilizer. It may be smelly, but it does melt snow and ice, though not as effectively as salt.

"Maybe I'll go ahead and get some fertilizer then," said Loheide.

If you have a water softener, you can use the salt that goes with it.

If you have a pool, you can use calcium chloride or magnesium crystals.

"Pretty much anything that's going to dissolve in water should really melt ice," said Jason Davis, of Pelican Pools.

If you're still stuck, there are some home-grown remedies you can do right in your own kitchen, including, believe it or not, beet juice. Just mix it with some molasses and table salt, shake it up, and you've got homemade de-icer.

Carolina Lara, of Pennsburg, said she won't be trying it.

"I think it might be too sticky!" she said.

You can also substitute pickle juice, or just mix Dawn dish soap with rubbing alcohol and warm water.

"Maybe I'll try that, too," said Loheide. "Pickle juice, beets, and fertilizer!"

We tested each of these remedies for you. Here are the results:

- Magnesium mix: Melted ice almost immediately. Less corrosive on concrete than rock salt, but twice the price ($12 a bag versus $6).

- Dawn dish soap with rubbing alcohol and warm water: Melted ice almost immediately. To make it, mix about a quart or a half-gallon of lukewarm water, a teaspoon or two of dawn, and a tablespoon of rubbing alcohol.

- Beet juice: Almost no effect for us, although many states have had success on spreader trucks. If you try it, use sugared beet juice.

- Calcium Chloride: Highly effective, but took about 30 minutes to take effect.