Can You Use Water Softener Salt To Melt Ice?

Last Updated on January 13, 2023 by Mattias

With the winter months comes much snow and ice, which forms in certain areas of your home, such as your driveway.

So, in this post, we will be looking at whether it is safe to use water-softener salt to melt ice, but first, let’s look at what water-softener salt is.

What Is Water Softener Salt?

water softener salt

Water Softener Salt, also called Sodium Chloride or sodium ions, is the salt used in the ion exchange process of a water softener to replace hard water minerals like calcium or magnesium ions after they are removed from the water by the water softener’s resin beads, to produce soft water for your home’s water supply. 

Water Softener Salt in the brine tank also plays a vital role in forming brine solution, which is used to backwash and recharge the resin bed in the water softener tank. 

There are different types of water softener salt, which also exist in the form of salt crystals and pellets.

Can Water Softener Salt Melt Ice?

three cubes of ice melting

Yes, it can. Water Softener Salt can lower the melting and freezing point of water, so when you apply it to ice, it reduces the melting and freezing point of the water that makes up most of the ice and hence turns the solid ice into liquid water.

Read also: How To Add Salt To Water Softener

At What Temperature Does Water Softener Salt Melt Ice?

Water Softener Salt melts ice at a temperature of 32°F or 0°C. A pound of water softener salt can melt up to 46 pounds of ice at this temperature.

However, a salt that contains magnesium chloride can melt ice at a temperature of -25°F, while other de-icing methods melt ice at a temperature of 15°F.

So, it is safe to say there is no fixed temperature for all salts, as the temperature

 at which they melt ice differs.

Read also: 9 Reasons Why Your Softened Water Tastes Salty

Can You Use Water Softener Salt To Melt Driveway Ice?

Yes, you can use water softener salt to melt driveway ice.

First, sprinkle a cup full of water softener crystals on the icy driveway and wait for like 20 minutes. 

It will eat into the ice on the driveway and then melt it.

You do not need to fill the entire driveway with water-softener salt for it to melt. 

Read also: Will Water Softener Water Kill Plants?

Is Water Softener Salt The Same As Rock Salt?

No, it isn’t. There are several differences between them which we will be looking at in the next chapter of this article. 

Water Softener Salt Vs. Rock Salt: Which One Should You Use To Melt Ice?

Water Softener Salt Rock Salt 
Is refined sodium chlorideIs the unrefined form of Sodium chloride 
Melts ice slower than rock saltMelts ice faster than water softener salt
More expensive than rock saltLess expensive than water softener salt
Purer than rock saltLess find refined than water softener salt
It contains fewer impurities, as compared to rock saltContains several impurities
Not a food-grade saltFood-grade salt
More effective when used in a water softener than rock saltNot as effective when used in the water softener as compared to water softener salt
Difficult to notice when sprinkled on the driveway due to its pure white colorWater softener salt is not as difficult to see when spread on the driveway.

Water Softener Salt is the refined form of Sodium chloride. 

Due to the refining and purification process it undergoes, it is more expensive than regular rock salt. 

The purification also makes it purer than rock salt and contains fewer impurities.

It reduces water’s freezing and melting point and melts solid ice into liquid water. 

However, some of its cons when used as an ice melt is that it is too white, so you might find it challenging to recognize the areas where you have sprinkled it on the ice unless you pay close attention, as the ice also has a bright white color.

Also, it melts ice slower than rock salt.

On the other hand, rock salt is the unrefined and unpurified form of Sodium chloride. 

Due to its direct usage after removal from the ground and lack of purification, it is less expensive and pure than water softener salt. 

It also contains several impurities and minerals, making it less effective as a water softener than water softener salt.

It is also a food-grade salt and, when purified, can be used at home for cooking.

Some call it sidewalk salt because it can melt ice from sidewalks and driveways when it isn’t 100% pure.

This type of salt isn’t as whitish as water softener salt and is less difficult to notice when sprinkled on the ice, even without paying close attention, which gives a point over water softener salt.

It also melts ice faster than water-softener salt. 

Rock Salt vs Water Softener Salt: Final Verdict

Rock salt and water softener salt are both great ice melters. However, rock salt melts ice faster than water-softener salt, so if you are looking for a quick solution for your icy driveway, you should go for rock salt.

Also, water-softener salt is purer than rock salt, so if you are looking for pure salt, you should go for the former. 

The high price at which water softener salt is sold compared to rock salt should also be a factor you should consider in your decision-making process. 

What Can You Use Instead Of Rock Salt To Melt Ice?

ice cubes melting

Table Salt

Table salt is an excellent ice-melt alternative to rock salt.

Sprinkling table salt over ice reduces its freezing point and melts it into liquid water. 

Pool Salt

You can also melt the ice with pool salt, but you must ensure you apply it before a snowstorm or by shoveling the driveway. 

Dishwasher Salt

Dishwasher Salt is a great ice-melt alternative that can also solve the problem of icy driveways.

Magnesium Sulfate

Magnesium Sulfate, also known as Epsom salt, is another great ice melter.

Its melting process is similar to that of regular table salt, but it takes a longer time. 

It’s also more expensive than regular salt. However, using it around plants is safer than any other kind of salt.

Calcium Chloride Pellets

Calcium chloride pellets are another renowned ice-melting method known for breaking down the ice quickly and making it easy to move away with a shovel.

Is Water Softener Salt Safe For Driveways?

driveway filled with snow

Yes, it is. You can use water softener salt on your driveway without fearing it would damage it, except if it is concrete. 

When water softener salt comes in contact with a concrete driveway, it undergoes a chemical reaction with it which could cause damage to it.

How Do You Melt Ice Without Damaging Concrete?

Water softener salt on concrete driveways is sure to cause salt damage, so you must look for alternatives to melt the ice without damaging them.

Some of these alternatives include:

• Use a sealer to protect it from the intrusion of moisture and salt, corrosion, thawing, and freezing. 

• Lay down mats that melt snow. 

• Using de-icers such as potassium chloride, calcium chloride, and magnesium chloride. 

• Installation of a driveway with a heating system to prevent ice formation. 

Note: If your concrete surface has salt damage, you must repair it. 

How Do I Melt Ice On My Driveway Without Using Salt? 

There are various ways to melt the ice on your driveway without salt. They include homemade ice melt, de-icing products, etc. 

• Homemade Ice Melt 

You can make an ice melt solution home by mixing hot water, a drop of dish soap, and rubbing alcohol together. 

Applying this solution to ice causes it to bubble and melt, leaving you to remove any remaining ice with a shovel.

This solution also removes ice from concrete driveways without damaging the concrete surface.

• De-icing Methods  

These de-icing methods include sugar, garden fertilizers that contain calcium chloride or magnesium chloride, non-chemical natural fertilizers, urea, Calcium magnesium acetate (CMA), etc.

• Coffee grounds, beet juice, and vinegar are other ways to melt ice on your driveway without using salt. 

Can You Use Water Softener Salt To Melt Ice Summary

So, there you have it. You can use water softener salt to melt the ice on your driveway.

However, if you have a concrete driveway, you should consider other safer options, which we have mentioned above. 

So, go through the article, choose the best ice melter for your driveway and use it to melt the ice on the driveway during the winter weather.

However, if you don’t have a concrete driveway, you can go to any home improvement stores or hardware stores around you and get water softener salt to melt the ice.