Does cat litter melt ice?
While I know several uses for cat litter, I’ve never given much thought to its ability to melt ice or snow until a friend asked me this question.
So, I rolled up my sleeves, researched, and found many interesting facts about kitty litter and ice, which I’ll share with you.
Just keep reading.
Can I Use Kitty Litter to Melt Ice?
I’m afraid you’d be disappointed if you sprinkle some unused cat litter on your driveway, steps, or other iced road surfaces because it doesn’t melt ice.
‘Is kitty litter good for melting ice?’ Unfortunately, no.
Traditional cat litter is made from bentonite clay, which isn’t among the usual ice melt products, such as rock salt or potassium chloride.
And non-clumping cat litters are made from paper, wood, corn, walnuts, etc., which are pretty much useless for melting an icy sidewalk or street.
Still, some types of non-clumping litter are black. They absorb more heat from the sunlight and could speed up the melting process and soak up the extra melted water.
Nevertheless, non-clumping litter is not the most effective solution to icy walkways because it takes time and requires plenty of sunlight.
As you’ll learn, sprinkling kitty litter on ice has another benefit. But first, let’s talk about if it’s a good idea to use litter instead of rock salt to melt ice.
READ MORE: CAT LAYING IN THE LITTER BOX: REASONS WHY
Can You Use Cat Litter Instead of Rock Salt To Melt Ice?
Can you use cat litter instead of salt? Unfortunately, you can’t use litter instead of rock salt to melt your icy walkways.
It’s easy to assume that litter has ice-melting properties because it absorbs moisture and liquid so well. But it’s not absorption that matters, which is why kitty litter is a poor choice as a de-icer.
As HyperPhysics explains, “the use of ordinary salt (sodium chloride, NaCl) on icy roads in the winter helps to melt the ice from the roads by lowering the melting point of the ice.” (1)
In other words, salt dissolves when in contact with ice, and the saltwater prevents water particles from freezing back to ice. The more the ice stays in touch with salt, the more it melts.
Other common deicers include calcium chloride, sodium chloride (table salt), potassium chlorate, Safe Paw Ice melt (pet-friendly), and hot water mixed with alcohol. (2)
Clay or non-clumping litter can’t lower the freezing point of ice and won’t dissolve in contact with icy surfaces. But litter has one curious effect on ice, as you’re going to discover in a moment.
What Does Cat Litter Do To Ice?
While kitty litter won’t make ice melt overnight, it provides traction on ice and slippery surfaces. It’s a great option to prevent falls when bad weather catches you unaware.
Moreover, you can sprinkle it on your driveway to give your tires extra traction when you get stuck. Check this cool video if you don’t believe me!
Fresh Steps recommend their non-clumping variety for getting out of muddy situations or as extra weight in your trunk to prevent your vehicle from getting stuck. (3)
Best of all, cat litter is safer to use around pets because it won’t burn their paws, unlike table salt. It also doesn’t cause as much environmental damage as salt.
And it’s less destructive on your concrete walkways and concrete surfaces, unlike the most common deicers.
Cons of Using Cat Litter on Ice
I must warn you that using cat litter as a traction product for your steps, driveway, or street has its cons. Let me tell you a story.
One winter, I accidentally spilled a bag of cat litter when I slipped on the balcony. And while it did provide enough traction to prevent future falls, when spring came, it was a nightmarish mess to clean.
The balcony was covered in white streaks for months afterward, and I kept finding litter particles all over the house. And I wasn’t happy to squander one of my top cat litters!
That’s why I prefer sand – it’s a much cheaper alternative to clumping or non-clumping litter for traction. And it doesn’t create a slippery mess once the ice melts away.
But what about snow? Can you use cat litter to get rid of snow? Let’s find out.
Does Cat Litter Melt Snow?
So, does cat litter melt snow?
While useful for absorbing moisture and cleaning spills, clay litter has no active ingredient that can melt snow. But it can still provide traction when walking over snowy walkways and steps.
Snow and ice seem the same at first glance, but ice is frozen water while snow is frozen atmospheric vapors. So, it’s easier to get rid of snow than ice.
Hot water mixed with dish soap and rubbing alcohol is your best option for removing snow. You can also try melting snow with coffee grounds, alfalfa meal, and salt pellets.
IS KITTY LITTER SAFE FOR CONCRETE?
Yes, cat litter is safe for concrete and an excellent alternative to salt because it won’t cause concrete cracks. If it destroys concrete, I would freak out every time I find my cat lying in the litter box.
CAN I PUT CAT LITTER IN MY YARD?
Unused cat litter isn’t harmful to plants, so you can use it in your yard or garden. But you should dispose of used litter in the trash to prevent soil contamination with your cat’s feces.
WHAT KIND OF KITTY LITTER DO YOU USE FOR ICE?
Use a non-clumping litter brand for traction to avoid the messy clumps of clays when the ice melts.
IS CAT LITTER BETTER THAN SALT?
Litter is an excellent alternative to salt because it provides traction without damaging concrete or polluting the soil. But kitty litter doesn’t melt ice or snow.
WILL CAT LITTER DRY UP MUD?
Yes, since litter absorbs moisture, it can speed up the drying process.
Does kitty litter melt ice? Unfortunately, no, it doesn’t. But don’t be so quick as to throw all the unused litter lying around your home.
You can use it for traction on icy surfaces to prevent falls, reduce the risk of grease fires, absorb foul others from shoes/fridges/wardrobes, and clean up spills.
And crystal litter with its sparkling pebbles is great for decorations and art projects!
What do you think about the topic? Does cat litter melt ice/snow? Share your thoughts ins the comment section.
- 1. Freezing Point Depression in Solutions [Internet]. Gsu.edu. 2019. Available from: http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/Chemical/meltpt.html
- 2. What are Deicing Chemicals? [Internet]. Snow & Ice Salt & Chemicals Unlimited, LLC, A RASEVIC COMPANY. 2020. Available from: https://snowicesalt.com/what-are-deicing-chemicals/
- 3. FAQ – Contact Us | Fresh Step® [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2022 Aug 7]. Available from: https://www.freshstep.com/contact-us/product/
I’ve grown up surrounded by animals – dogs, cats, cows, goats, sheep, and horses and that has shaped me into what I am today – a crazy cat lady who always has a place for one more cat (or a dog). I’ve got two female cats – Kitty and Roni, and two tomcats – Blacky and Shaggy, but I also feed my neighbors’ cats when they come for a visit. I just can’t say no to them.
I discovered that writing is my vocation early in my school years. Since then I’ve taken part in several literature contests – writing horror and fantasy short stories and novellas.
For the past three years, I’ve been an ELS teacher, pouring my heart into showing children and teenagers how important English is for their future and trying to educate them how to treat their pets with care.
Learn more about Grigorina here