Many people look to cat litter as an alternative to salt and sand during the winter for melting ice, especially on the sidewalk or driveway.
While cat litter can be - and is - used to melt ice, it is not the ideal method and can cause quite a mess.
Superior Methods to Melting Ice
The following alternatives are all proven to be superior for melting ice in the winter and should be relied on instead of litter:
Sprinkle Down Some Salt
The reason salt melts ice is based on a chemical reaction that occurs in which the freezing point of water is reduced. Water regularly freezes at 0℃ or 32℉ in its pure form.
However, when salt is added, it dissolves into water and alters the freezing point, making it able to return to its liquid form. By adding salt to ice, it will dissolve into water, essentially melting ice.
Some water will be absorbed by the salt, while the rest of it will dissolve and run off. The salt grains that are left behind will make the ground less slippery as well, helping to achieve the same objective as melting.
Scatter Sand on Walking Surfaces
While many people use sand when melting ice, sand does not actually melt the ice itself. In fact, sand is used in this process to provide more traction on the ground and reduce the likelihood of slips and falls.
In effect, sand does nothing to melt ice as there is no chemical reaction.
Using sand on ice can help make the surface easier to walk on because there is more traction and it’s less slippery. However, using sand alone will create a big mess and not actually reduce ice. If you want to melt ice and provide traction, using salt and sand together could do the trick.
Can You Use Cat Litter for Melting Ice?
Cat litter is nothing but clay, which will absorb some of the ice and help with melting, but it is not as active at melting ice as salt or even sand.
Although cat litter can absorb ice and help with melting, it does not have melting properties in terms of a chemical reaction. Any ice-melting properties that cat litter has is from its ability to absorb moisture. This will largely depend on the type of material that is used in the cat litter.
Super absorbent litter can work since they naturally absorb moisture. This will create the reaction necessary to absorb much of the ice and therefore will help to absorb ice and make the ground more stable and less slippery. However, there is no chemical reaction that is actually melting the ice here, as is the case with salt.
Cat Litter Doesn’t Really Melt Ice
In most cases, cat litter does not actually have any properties that will melt ice, and instead, it is functioning by absorbing moisture. This is only effective if the ice is also melting when this process is occurring, otherwise, you’re just sprinkling cat litter over ice and making a mess.
Even if your cat litter does work to absorb the moisture and helps with melting ice, it will leave a big mess as this product does not dissolve or biodegrade. You will have to clean up your cat litter, which has now been swollen from absorbing moisture.