General Question

JilltheTooth's avatar

What interesting devices or tips for dealing with snow and ice can you tell us about?

Asked by JilltheTooth (19727points) February 2nd, 2011

I recently learned about Yak Trax from a Jelly, and I was wondering if anyone knows of other useful snow and ice coping devices? Or any tips? For example, my (otherwise pretty good) shovel has a problem with heavy snow clinging to it, now I spray it with Pam before I go out to clear up, and it really works.

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40 Answers

cazzie's avatar

Along the same lines at the Yaks, but you can screw these babies right into your tires or your shoes.

Learn how to ski to work.

Take a ‘spark’ (this is a short film by some high school students, but it’s the best I could find to show what a spark is and how it’s used AND it shows some of the beautiful city I live in.)

Dress for the weather. Invest in some good quality wool under garments, socks, mittens and a hat.

Use a balm and not a cream on your face and hands. Meaning, don’t put a water-containing moisturiser on our face and hands and then go out in the cold. Use a balm on your cheeks to stop the dry air from chapping them. I suggest a mix of either shea butter and rice bran oil, or shea butter and castor oil. Castor oil is thicker and stays more on the surface of your skin. Badger makes some good ones.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Stay inside and drink large quantities of alcohol. Or stay in bed and snuggle with a nice warm s/o.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I got a GA for sarcasm? OK, leave the snow shovel outside, so it’s the same temp as the outside air. The snow will not stick because there isn’t any temperature gradient. It’s a warm shovel that melts some of the snow and makes it stick.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Oh! Never thought of that. I’ll try it, thanks.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

I do not own one but watched a neighbor use one a couple years ago. This is the link to the website. Easy peasy for bad backs.

cazzie's avatar

Oh, I almost forgot. I bought a pair of these boots, and it was the best winter investment I ever made. But if you live in the US you are s.o.o.l., because they don’t allow seal products of any kind.

Cruiser's avatar

The Fire Dept. is using snow mobiles to get to people who need help and I heard on the radio the Chicago Street crews are using jet engines to melt the snow they otherwise would have to haul away.

JilltheTooth's avatar

I think I’ll get me one of those nifty jet engines for home use. The piles are taller than me.

@cruiser: Glad you brought the hot tub back. I’m climbing in.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Is anyone else curious where the Chicago street crews laid their hands on jet engines? It’s not like you can go to rent a center and ask for a jet engine.

Claire_Fraser's avatar

We always lift the wiper blades up into the standing position (like you are going to wash your windshield) so you don’t have to worry about your wipers freezing to the windshield. Also keeping blankets in the car is a good idea. You never know that you’re going to be stranded until it happens.

cazzie's avatar

They’re not actual ‘jet engines’, but ‘essentially jet engines’ they are designed to melt snow, not drive a jet. @Adirondackwannabe

here’s a picture of one in DC.

OH, edit… here’s a brilliant video showing them in action!

Cruiser's avatar

@JilltheTooth It’s a big one plenty of room for more Jellies! It’s Snow Day and time for some Irish Coffee!

Thanks for the link @cazzie I had no idea what one looked like

marinelife's avatar

For those who have had so much snow and ice they are afraid of the roof collapsing, I just saw a TV piece about roof melt, hockey puck shaped lozenges that you can throw on to your roof.

Jude's avatar

Use a blowdryer on your frozen car windows.

Claire_Fraser's avatar

@Jude I’m not sure you want to use hot air on icy glass. It could be all too easy to crack the glass. I’ve seen way too many people crack them with hot water. As matter of fact, my neighbor cracked his windshield by running the defroster on high after our last snowstorm.

Buttonstc's avatar

To prevent car doors from being frozen shut, buy a can of Windshield De-Icer Spray.

BEFORE freezing weather arrives, spray both the doors sides (where they meet the car) as well as the door jambs. Stay clear of the rubber sealing strips as much as possible.

I usually spray the door key and pull in and out of the locks several times. Re-spray again, etc. Then I do the same with the window track.

So far I have avoided the necessity of dragging out a blow dryer :) which I don’t own.

The primary thing to remember is to do it preventitvely once per season. It won’t do much to loosen a stuck door or window since it’s the interior surfaces which must be sprayed.

Claire_Fraser's avatar

That is a great idea…wish I’d thought of that!

cazzie's avatar

I KNEW it! Those ice melt things are just blocks of calcium chloride.

This is a good lesson for everyone who didn’t pay much attention in physics or chemistry class. Ice is frozen water, and knowing a thing or two about physics and chemistry, you can help yourself McGyver style.

jerv's avatar

Remember, the pedals and steering wheel control the tires on your car, but they don’t control the car. You can stop the tires from turning, or change which way the front tires are pointing, but whether that actually has any effect on your speed or direction is controlled by the ground beneath your wheels.

Buttonstc's avatar


Yes, it says right on the website that they are composed of calcium chloride, so that’s not really much of a newsflash

What I’m trying to figure out is how one can “help yourself” simply by knowing this fact.

How else (other than in those puck shaped discs) does the average person manage to get salt up on the roof. It’s more than a little difficult to try to accomplish the same thing with a ladder and a shaker of Mortons.

I’ll take good old solid discs which can be easily chucked up there from the ground rather than trying to figure out a way to shake grains of it all over the roof.

That’s fine for sidewalks and driveways, but a slanted roof ?Huh ? Am I missing something here ?


JilltheTooth's avatar

My roof is fine, but I could use a bunch of that stuff for my deck…not to mention the giant piles next to my driveway….

zenvelo's avatar

@cazzie don’t those snow melters just generate a lot of water that then easily freezes into a solid sheet of ice? Looks to me like it’s a good way to get a hockey rink out in the street.

cazzie's avatar

@Buttonstc Yes, you are missing something. My point was that the pucks are made out of a very simple chemical and there is nothing that fancy or inventive about them.

@Buttonstc and @zenvelo If you read the link I posted, you’ll see it explains how salt helps melt ice and then gives a list of other chemicals that are used for ice and snow removal and details about effective temperature and drawbacks of using them.

I didn’t bring up the pucks. Simply pointed out that the pucks are made out of a certain chemical that’s not new or fancy, but a chemical that is effective to -20F, so it does melt snow at lower ambient temperatures than just regular salt. I’m sure the manufacturer leaves the drainage of the water in the home owner’s hands. If the drainage off your roof creates a hockey rink out in the street, your neighbours may have something to say about that.

@JilltheTooth you wouldn’t need the puck form for your deck or driveway. Just look for a ‘Driveway salt’ that has calcium chloride in it.

Buttonstc's avatar


Let me phrase my question differently.

Yes, it’s obvious the pucks are made of an ordinary substance and the folks who created them make no effort to hide this fact.

But what is rather novel about them (to me, at least) is their ease of use by just throwing them up on the roof.

I wouldn’t have the foggiest notion of how to wrestle those crystals into a solid shape for ease of tossing up there.

If someone else has an easily accomplished DIY method, I’d be very interested. But it has to be easy enough to dissuade me from the ease of just ordering them from the website or buying them at a local home improvement place.

And if there is no easy DIY method to put said crystals into a throwable solid shape, it really wouldn’t make much difference what substance they’re made of. It would totally be a moot point.

My question is, how is merely knowing the properties of salt and ice “helping” me?That knowledge wouldn’t make one iota of difference in terms of the practical problem of getting the salt on top of the roof.

When I went to the website and read about them I did recognize it as a form of salt. But so what?

Even tho I was aware of the ice melting properties of salt ( I do live in MI, after all) if I needed to melt it off the roof I have absolutely not a clue how to do that (apart from these clever little pucks)

So, my point was that what makes them unique and clever is NOT the common ingredient from which they’re made, but rather the solid FORM or SHAPE.

Unless I can do the same process which they do to enable them to be thrown the required distance, just knowing the basic chemistry of ice and salt does not enable me to “help myself” regarding the roof.

Again, if anyone has a DIY method, let’s hear it. Otherwise I’ll be ordering from them. Not because I think they have some magic ingredient but because they put it into a unique form enabling easy use on a roof.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Guys, can we get back on track with tips, things, and tricks, please?

Buttonstc's avatar

That’s fine by me. I was really hoping though that someone might chime in with a DIY method for those pucks, seriously.

jdogg's avatar

A flame thrower work nicely!

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

They also make roof rakes to help get the snow off the edges of the roof. Basically a really long pole with a rake on the end. Keep the roof edges clear and you will not get ice dams and water backing up under the shingles.Also be careful with cacium chloride. It burns if its wet.

Meego's avatar

I always carry a kid sized shovel in my car…it actually has helped a few times! I’m thinking maybe a bit of cat litter as well now just in case the road still gets slippery after I’ve removed the snow.

There is this de icer you can spray on your windshield to prevent any ice build up I also find rainX works great.

Here are great car survival tips..

SmashTheState's avatar

If you need traction on ice, a nifty trick is to put staples into the bottoms of your shoes. Works quite well.

cazzie's avatar

@Buttonstc Don’t you want to know what chemical you are throwing about your house? What damage it might do to pets or plants or roofing material or the drains? And the link I provided also gave a list of OTHER chemicals to melt snow and their uses and downsides.

Now, what if you had a bag of stuff… not in fancy puck form, but just a bag of stuff marked CaCl2. If you didn’t know that CaCl2 would melt snow, you probably wouldn’t bother with it if you had a snow and ice problem. You’d have NO idea. Same goes for your garden fertiliser. If you know what’s in your garden fertiliser and were in a pinch, you could throw that down and melt the ice.

The company has pressed them into some cute little pucks. Pressing salt into clumps isn’t hard. In fact, the industry goes to great lengths to keep your table salt and the rest from clumping and they add a ‘non clumping’ agent to it.

Here’s a nice DIY for you: Make a mixture of CaCl2 (make sure it’s the type without the free-flow agent in it) and a few spritzes of water in a bucket. Just use a few drops to add some clumpiness to the CaCl2 and use a press like this… VERY easy to make with PVC pipe. (here they are making bath bombs, like what I make…) You would HAVE to wear gloves, handling the CaCl2. Let the pucks dry for a few weeks.

It is just me or is it getting geeky in here. Too geeky for @Buttonstc, I guess.

(What can I say, I deal with chemicals all day, and when hubby comes to me wanting to make his own film developer, I just raid my cupboards and the kitchen and he has what he needs.)

JilltheTooth's avatar

@cazzie : I think @Buttonstc was honoring my request to get back on track with the question.

Nullo's avatar

Keep a bottle of rubbing alcohol handy. They’re usually smaller than your standard can of de-icer, and work about as well.

jca's avatar

I read that hand sanitizer also doubles as lock de-icer. just put it in your key and insert in lock. I have not tried it but it makes sense because it is alcohol, which is what i believe de-icer is.

Put Pam on your snow shovel, so that the snow slides right off.

Park your car with the front wheels facing the street, and park close to the street (in your driveway). this way, as long as you can get the car to move a little bit, it will grip the street, which hopefully is paved, and you can use the front-wheel drive to pull the car out of the driveway.

someone mentioned using your hairdryer on the windshield, and someone else said that the heat might crack the glass. I don’t think a hairdryer will do any more harm than the heat generated from using the car’s interior heater. Furthermore, i think auto glass is tempered, which I think (think but am not positive) that it won’t crack just from heat when it’s cold.

Nullo's avatar

Buy one of those car-covering car covers and drape it over the car when you’re done with it.

If you don’t have salt, try using sand or something similarly gritty.

If you expect to be out of doors for a while, don’t eat snow. It lowers your core temperature, which is a Bad Thing.

KatawaGrey's avatar

Hand sanitizer gel. Because of the high alcohol content, if you squirt it on a lock, it will melt the ice inside and on the lock so you can get your key in.

SmashTheState's avatar

@Nullo Eating snow is a matter of a great deal of controversy among survivalists. Some say that the calories lost melting it makes it a poor deal, but others argue that it actually costs very little in the way of calories, and that the debilitation from dehydration is disproportionately worse than a tiny hit to your body’s efficiency.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Again, this was not meant as a survival question, please get back to tips and devices, please.

Nullo's avatar

Buy a sturdy snow shovel, not a plastic one. You’re looking for metal and wood, or at least that sturdy resin-y stuff that’s coming into vogue. Don’t shovel into the wind. And there’s no need to lob the stuff very far, either; just a quick lateral toss onto the grass.

@SmashTheState Alright, let’s settle this as men. Let us each live in the wintry outdoors for three days, you with your snow and me with a canteen. :D

SmartAZ's avatar

You are asking for a heart attack to use a shovel at all. Lose it. Use a hand held snow pusher instead. LIKE THIS

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