How to Remove Snow From a Driveway Without a Shovel

Speed up the melting of snow and ice on your driveway with these tips.

Stay ahead of snow accumulation with these simple management techniques that make it possible to clear the white stuff without the use of a shovel. Some of these tips make it easy to melt the snow while you’re away for the day, and others are just straight-up smart ways to manage the downfall if you’re watching it from that cozy spot near the fireplace. A self-propelled snowblower can go a long way, but this time, let’s stop the back-breaking efforts and try these solutions instead.

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Yellow snow shovel, placed along the side of a driveway, that has been freshly shoveled. Taken in winter.

Photo by: GettyImages/Garen Meguerian

GettyImages/Garen Meguerian

Treat the Surface With a De-Icer

Regular maintenance done to preventatively prepare the driveway surface for snowfall can go a long way at helping keep the accumulation at bay. Many de-icing products are intended to cure ice buildup and simultaneously make it easier to get through the winter without needing to shovel your driveway. This method works most reliably in geographies that only receive a few inches of snow at a time, rather than in locations where 8” or more a day is the norm.

Ice melting salt

Ice melting salt

Rock salt is a popular ice melting salt product.

Photo by: Dollar Photo Club/Brad Calkins

Dollar Photo Club/Brad Calkins

The New York Landmarks Conservancy warns against certain chemical de-icers that can aggravate masonry and have environmental side effects but adds, “Magnesium chloride is the newest deicing salt. It continues to melt snow and ice until the temperature reaches -13 F. The salt releases 40 percent less chloride into the environment than either rock salt or calcium chloride.”

For extra traction, de-icer can be mixed with sand before it’s placed on the driveway or sidewalks.

Pour Hot Water on Snow

Best in instances when temperatures are on the rise, connect a sprayer hose to an indoor hot water spigot. By spraying the snow as it falls, you can eliminate the need to shovel and manage the volume of snow that collects on your driveway. Top with sand to add traction against the ice you may invite.

For extra melting power – or if you don’t have a hot water spigot – fill a garden watering can with hot tap water, a tablespoon of dish soap and 1/2 cup of rubbing alcohol. Sprinkle it from the watering can over your driveway (and especially over the packed tracks created by your vehicles as they attempt to travel down the driveway, and at the end of your driveway where plows inevitably dump lots of packed snow). The combination of the ingredients will begin to melt the snow and simultaneously treat underlying ice build-up.

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1034968530

Photo by: GettyImages/Des Marquardt

GettyImages/Des Marquardt

Use a Leaf Blower

If you thought you could pack it away after the fall, you may want to reconsider the uses of a powerful leaf blower. When the snow’s light and fluffy, a leaf blower can effectively blast the snow off your driveway. This works best if you have under 3” of snow. Be sure to repeat the process as the snow continues to fall.

Install a Snow Melting System

If you’re considering replacing or repaving your driveway and snow management is a concern, think about installing an electric or hydronic system to create a heated area beneath the finished surface. Similar to how you would install radiant heat flooring underneath tiles in your home, a heated driveway warms the surface of the driveway from beneath in order to melt snowfall on contact during the winter. Pricing for these systems varies based on the square footage of your driveway, but the cost to tear up and re-pave your driveway is a bigger expense, which is why you would consider doing this install in tandem with the full tear-out.

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A snowy February day in Rochester, NY.

Photo by: GettyImages/Karen Hatch

GettyImages/Karen Hatch

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