Natural Ice Melters, Traction Helpers, and Slip Stoppers

Most of us can stand the cold. Snow, even lots of it, has its charm. But ice that’s not on a skating rink is another story, especially when it’s clinging to steps, sidewalks, and driveways.

So we follow tradition and pour on the salt to make the ice go away. Then, come spring, we scratch our heads and wonder why the grass is brown or the perennials are stunted.

The reason is Ö salt. Sure, it melts the snow, but it can also leave a lot of dead and damaged plants in its wake to say nothing of the salt that washes off into sewers and groundwater. In time, salt actually eats away at the concrete of steps and sidewalks.

Here are some little-known, eco-safe, great ice breakers:

Ice Melter: Alfalfa meal. This is a totally natural fertilizer that contains nitrogen to promote ice melting and has a texture to provide traction while it works.

Traction Helpers: For just plain traction, cover ice with wood ashes, coal cinders, sand, or cat litter.

Slip Stoppers: Invest in some non-slip stair treads for your favorite slippery steps.

Adapted from The Organic Suburbanite, by Warren Schultz. Copyright (c) 2001 by Warren Schultz. Reprinted by permission of Rodale Press.
Adapted from The Organic Suburbanite, by Warren Schultz.


John J.
John J.6 years ago

Ecotraction is the green alternative that truly provides traction on ice for the winter. I have applied it to my sidewalks and driveway and it doesn't harm concrete or landscaping in the spring. It also last as long as the ice is present There is NO salt or chloride in the product. I bought mine from

Robert O.
Robert O6 years ago

Thanks Annie.

Howard C.
Howard Crosse6 years ago

I tried cat litter but after the snow melted I was left with clumps of litter which glued themselves to the drive. Saw dust (or shredded tree prunings) give good grip, don't clump are good for the soil (and are often free).

K s Goh
KS Goh7 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Prometeus O.
Past Member 7 years ago

paranoia plays it's role so well in our society. When a volcano erupts somewhere in the world it produces the amount of pollution all humanity would produce in 200 years. What is wrong with us ? Take a look at the important stuff in life, don't waste your time with such nonsense !

I strongly recommend few New York City walking tours for a better understanding of real life

Robert M.
Robert R8 years ago

Avoid walking / climbing (steps) with your hands in pockets. It is common to put our bare hands in coat or jacket pockets for warmth. However; should you slip (inevitable), you are likely to harm yourself ... possibly serious injury ... because you are unable to break your fall with your hands and arms. Try to have gloves available ... even an extra pair-or-two in the car. Walk / climb using smaller strides and steps than you would normally use if the pavement surface were not frozen. Less chance of slipping. When going to super-market, park car near shopping-carts. Use a shopping cart from the parking lot, rather than waiting until you go in the store to get one. Holding onto a shopping cart as you walk / navigate a slippery surface greatly reduces chances of falling.

Linda S.
Linda S.9 years ago

My question too. Did anyone find out where to buy alfalfa?

ff B.
ff B10 years ago

So where do you purchase alfalfa? What is the approximate cost?