Winter is here and that means we’re in for months of cold weather in Calgary. The cold is going to bring lots of ice with it and while we love ice that you can skate on, ice on your walkway and driveway is a whole other story. 

To get rid of it, most people simply turn to commercially available salt mixtures. The problem with these is they wreak havoc on concrete, they’re bad for your pets and your garden doesn’t like them, either. Not to mention that in spring, it all makes its way into the local waterways and plays havoc on the ecosystems. If you want a friendlier alternative (that is also friendlier for the environment) try these.

Organic salt-free deicer

Like all organic products, it’s more expensive than the regular alternative, but the lack of salt makes it worth the extra money. 

Pickle Brine

According to National Geographic, pickle brine prevents ice from sticking to the road (and thus your driveway), which makes it easier to remove. A simple recipe for DIY brine is to mix 2 lbs of salt per gallon of water with a glassful of sugar beet juice.


Urea is a naturally occurring compound produced in the body of mammals that works as a natural deicer. It is virtually non-toxic, which means it’s harmless for pets. It may be a little difficult to procure, but since it is used in fertilizer (and a whole bunch of other products), you may be able to find it where agricultural products are sold. (Or, go online.) Despite its use in fertilizers, raw urea is not great for plants, so maybe don’t use it by the garden.

Alfalfa Meal

Another product that is used in fertilizers, this is 100% naturally occurring and it’s grainy so in addition to melting ice, it will also provide traction. You don’t need much of it, so you can get away with just using a little bit at a time.

Sugar Beet Juice

This naturally occurring juice lowers the melting point of ice, so it can help you loosen up tough ice and make it easier to remove. Some municipalities are even using it to help cut down on salt. It’s safe for your pets, you, metal, concrete and plants. Follow the brine recipe above for an amazing natural deicer. 

Sand, fireplace ash or coffee grinds

Sprinkle these items over icy surfaces for increased traction. Because they are dark, they absorb more heat, which helps to melt ice and snow. 

Regardless of which method you use, the most environmentally friendly method is still good ol’ shovelling. It definitively rids an area of ice and snow and it gives you a great winter workout. Shovelling coupled with one of the above deicing methods will leave your walkways and driveways clear this winter. 

Bonus Window Deicer Recipe

Mix 3 cups white vinegar with 1 cup lukewarm water in a spray bottle and spray in icy windows.

Speaking of windows, if you’re going away this winter and want added protection for your home, consider getting some rolling shutters for your windows. Contact us to schedule a time to discuss your awning and shutter needs.