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Does Kitty Litter Melt Ice?

Does Kitty Litter Melt Ice?

Kitty litter is known for being used indoors in a litter box for the family cat to do his busy in. There are two primary types of kitty litter: traditional and clumping. Let’s take a look at the primary ingredients in these two litters. 

Kitty litter is known for being used indoors in a litter box for the family cat to do his busy in. There are two primary types of kitty litter: traditional and clumping. Let’s take a look at the primary ingredients in these two litters. 

Types of Kitty Litter

Traditional kitty litter is made of calcium bentonite clay, which is efficient at absorbing liquid. It is also non-clumping. Once the litter is oversaturated, it will no longer be effective at absorption and liquid will pool instead of being soaked into the litter.

The clumping kitty litter that is extremely popular today is made from a clay called sodium bentonite. Sodium bentonite clay is used in litter because of its ability to clump when moisture is absorbed into it. Clumping kitty litter also commonly contains silica, which is found in quartz and sand. It also has clumping abilities like sodium bentonite. 

Does Kitty Litter Melt Ice?

The ingredients found in traditional and clumping kitty litter are not effective at melting ice. However, kitty litter is useful for providing traction. Michigan State University Extension indicates that it  can be used for both walking and driving traction. Of course, tossing kitty litter on driveways and walkways will be messy depending on how much is used. Be prepared to clean up as the weather turns favorable.

The kitty litter brand Fresh Step actually has advice on their website for using their product for traction control. They recommend using only non-clumping litter made of 100 percent clay to provide traction when your car is stuck. They advise against using their scoopable or crystals litter because it can cause a “slippery mess”.

Types of Deicers

Since kitty litter does not work as a deicer, what are some popular options that work? According to the University of Maryland Extension, common deicers include magnesium chloride, calcium chloride, sodium chloride (rock salt), and potassium chloride. Let’s look at these individually:

  • Magnesium Chloride – This deicer works down to a temperature of  -13°F making it a very efficient deicer that is fast acting. It debatably has a minimal impact on the environment and less of an impact to plants compared to other deicers. It can be corrosive to metal, which is a concern for using it around vehicles. 
  • Calcium Chloride – This can be harmful to plants and concrete so great care should be taken to minimize damage. You should avoid using excessive amount around areas of wanted plant growth (i.e. the grass or garden). It melts down to temperatures of -25°F and is fast acting.  
  • Sodium Chloride (rock salt) – This is the most popular option because it is often the cheapest. It only works down to temperatures of about 18°F and is relatively slow to act. It may damage plants, metal, and concrete. 
  • Potassium Chloride – The deicer works down to a temperature of 25°F. Excessive use will do harm to plants. It is slow to work once applied. 

As you can see, there is no perfect deicer. Even cities and municipalities struggle to find the best deicer for public roads. Since an excessive use of deicer can be harmful for the reasons discussed above, it can often be a good idea to go light on your application. You can then use kitty litter, sand, or ashes to create traction in stubborn icey areas. Some people combined a deicer with a traction control material such as kitty litter to create their own mix that can be tossed down at one time. Of course, keep up on the shoveling to clear away the ice as it builds.