Using a snow blower is, by far, the easiest way to clear your drive of snow. All you have to do is either plug it in or yank the cord to start, guide it around, and let the machine do its thing. And in just a short amount of time, your driveway is blissfully clear of snow. But what happens when you don’t have a snow blower on hand? In this post, Snow Blower Source takes a look at some conventional m‐ and not so conventional — ways of getting rid of the white stuff.
The Old Fashioned Way With a Shovel
While this may seem like a self-evident entry, there’s actually a difference between using any old shovel and using one that’s easy on your body. You’ve probably seen those ergonomic shovels with the bent handles and wider bottoms — they’re shaped that way to more evenly distribute the load so you’re not putting undue stress on your body.
And while it may sound a bit silly to worry about the type of shovel you’re using, it’s not when you think about how much snow really weighs. You can probably get away with using a generic shovel when the temperature’s super cold and the snow is light and fluffy, but as soon as the mercury starts to rise, snow gets wet…and incredibly heavy. How heavy? Well, a cubic foot of snow is about 30lbs. Multiply that by an entire driveway, and you’ll have shoveled the equivalent of an elephant in terms of weight.
Sprinkle it With Some Salt
The great thing about salt is it’s relatively inexpensive, works fast and melts snow really, really quickly. It also acts independently of sun, meaning that whether it’s the middle of the night or there’s blazing sunshine out, salt will still “attack” the snow by lowering its freezing point (a bit of a caveat: when the sun is in full force, it can melt the snow a little; when there’s less snow, salt is more effective because it has to attack less surface area).
The downside of salt is it’s not terribly effective for really cold temperatures, like those that drop under 12F. This is because salt works by mixing with water (snow) to create a saline solution, at which point the freezing point is lowered. If the air and snow is cold enough, there won’t be any moisture for the salt to mix with and it won’t be able to do its job. Plus, salt can be corrosive on concrete and metal, and potentially harmful to the environment if it enters the sewer system.
Sand as an Alternative
The neat thing about sand, versus salt, is that sand can work in any temperature, it’s not corrosive to whatever it touches, it’s cheaper than salt by about half, and it won’t end up contaminating the environment. But there’s a distinction that needs to be made in what sand actually does. It won’t melt snow, but rather provide a layer of gritty traction so the slipperiness of snow isn’t part of the equation anymore.
However, as with the other methods, there are disadvantages to using sand. It can create a pretty ugly mess that’ll need to be swept up once the snow melts (have you seen what sandy snow on the ground looks like?), and it loses its efficacy once more snow falls on top of it. This means you’ll have to keep reapplying sand as the snow falls, leaving more and more sand to clean up after. And if you’re thinking that you don’t want to bother with sweeping up the sand, think again. Sand, while not as potentially damaging as salt, gets clumpy when it’s wet and can clog up drainage areas, which will make your spring cleanup a big headache.
Bonus Methods of Handling Snow
Some of the neater ways of getting around snow without using a snow blower include: