Can You Put Salt On A Driveway Before Snow?

Can You Put Salt On A Driveway Before Snow?

The short answer is yes you can! You can salt your driveway before the snow. People in places that receive a lot of snow are used to salting their driveway to melt snow and make it easier to remove. However, salting snow before a predicted snowfall is also becoming a popular way of salting snow. In this post, you will discover why it is okay to salt your driveway before snowfall and the benefits of it. 

What can you use on your driveway when it snows?

You can use either salt or sand. Salt is a deicing agent. The salt put on snow is known as deicing salt. What it actually does is lower the freezing point of snowmelt preventing it from becoming ice. 

You can also use sand on snow. Sand is not a deicing agent. However, it can reduce the slipperiness of frozen driveways and walkways. It makes it easier to walk on your driveway and to remove snow from your vehicle and your driveway. 

What will happen when you put salt on your driveway?

When you put salt on your driveway, it does away with any ice. Snowflakes are obviously fluffy and lightweight little things. However, heavy snow plus low temperatures often lead to the formation of slippery ice that can be dangerous. Ice can make people fall down. It can also make vehicles slide and lose control. 

The use of salt on ice prevents freezing and promotes melting. Salt is essentially an anti-freeze agent. It works by lowering the freezing point for water. This prevents the formation of ice and reduces the slipperiness of roads even after a snowfall.

The salt most commonly put on driveways, walkways, and roads is calcium chloride. This is because it lowers the freezing point of water to negative 25 degrees Celsius. In other words, no matter how heavy the snowfall is, ice will not form on a calcium chloride salted driveway unless the temperature goes below negative 25 degrees Celsius.

Sodium chloride is also put on driveways before or after it snows. The salt lowers the freezing point to negative 10 degrees Celsius. This means that although it prevents the quick formation of slippery ice before or after a snowfall, it is less effective than calcium chloride. 

Why you should salt your driveway before it snows 

Most people put salt on their driveway after it snows (not before). This is because most people do not want to waste snow salt based on snowfall predictions that sometimes do not come true. 

When you put salt on snow, the salt will start to melt the ice (frozen water) around it. This will lead to the formation of a small pool of salty water. This pool will, in turn, melt the surrounding ice and form an even bigger pool of salty water. If you use enough salt, you can literally melt away a big snow pile off your driveway. However, this melting process often takes a lot of time. 

In contrast, when you put salt on your driveway before it snows, the melting starts happening the moment it starts to snow. This is because when snow falls on your driveway, the salt underneath will start to melt it. Any vehicular or foot traffic on your driveway will mix the salt with the snow and lead to even faster melting. 

Moreover, it is important to note that putting salt on your driveway forms a layer on your driveway. This layer will prevent your driveway from freezing and becoming slippery. It will allow you to drive off if you want to without needing to shove away any snow. 

Furthermore, when you decide to remove snow on a pre-snow salted driveway, you will find the work to be much easier than removing snow from a driveway that is not salted or that has been salted after snow. Because of the salt barrier that will be formed by salt between your driveway and the snow.

What to have in mind before salting your driveway

  1. Do not use rock salt (sodium chloride). While sodium chloride causes the melting of snow/ice, it is only effective to a certain level. When temperatures get below negative 10 degrees Celsius this salt stops working and the snow it has melted will refreeze to form ice. The right salt to use is calcium chloride because it lowers the freezing point to negative 25 degrees Celsius. 
  2. Use sand when it is snowing heavily. When the snowfall is heavy and steady, using salt is not going to be of much use. This is because your driveway will be getting more snow than the salt on it is melting hence the use of salt will be useless. The only thing you can do in this case is to wait for snowfall to stop before using salt or to use sand when you really want to go out. Sand will increase the friction on the ice that will be formed by snow on your driveway. This will reduce its slipperiness and allow you to walk or drive safely. 
  3. Salt the areas you expect to actually step on or drive on. Unless you have many bags of snow salt, you should only salt the places you actually do expect to step on or drive on. This will help you spend less on snow salt or salt for snow throughout winter. 

The final note 

It is better to salt your driveway before the snow falls not after it does. This will have two main benefits – it will start the snow ice thawing process immediately it starts snowing, and it will make it easier for you to remove ice from your driveway by forming a barrier between your driveway and the snow.