Melting Ice


Junior Member
I have a questions for you pros. When the need is there, I put down ice melt with a walk behind spreader (driveways). I usually buy the Roadrunner 50# bags at Walmart.

My question is I spoke to a person who uses nitrogen fertilizer instead of salt. He said it works just as good as the ice melters and doesn't damage concrete like salt. Also you can buy it in 50# bags or bulk. What do you guys think, fact or fiction?

Thanks, Ken.


Stamford, CT
Hey Ken,

Never heard of roadrunner Ice melt. must be a local brand?

where are you from?

I manage the snow removal at a hospital and have several private contracts as well. I have used straight salt, calcium chloride, and a sand and salt mix.

Everything works !!! and everything damages sidewalks, grass and plants if used incorrectly !!!

The three most important questions are
1. How fast does it work?
2. How long does it actually work ?
3. what kind of mess does it leave?

I will be trying a product called Magic Salt this year. It is a treated rock salt. It works down to -10 to -20 degrees F, Leaves a residue on the pavement ( so you have to use les, and you don't have to reapply as often)
and it is less harmfull to grass and plants than other icemelts.

It comes in 25 or 50 lb bags, but if you use bulk salt you can have your salt piles sprayed. You can get more information from John Parker at Taconic Maintenance. He posts here quite often.

Chuck Smith

2000 Club Member

I have used Urea in the past. It is a nitrogen fertilizer. It burned the lawns along the edges of the sidewalks badly. I don't know if it was "overspray" when it was applied, or run off from the melt. Hard to say when it was applied to walks by up to 15 men at times.I can say it melted A LOT slower than salt does. This was at a school, and melting ice fast was a priority. I think it ended up that it was applied heavily to walkways in an attept to speed up the melting process. It didn't help it melt any faster. They went back to salt when the supply of Urea ran out, in fact, they had other schools in town "donate" more rock salt, and ended up throwing away quite a bit of the Urea (to help "run out" faster). One of the guys brought some home, since it is also a fertilizer. He applied it very lightly to his lawn in the spring, and it killed it completely.

Also, you really shouldn't use a walk behind spreader to apply de icer to walks without a "shield" on it to limit the spread width. Even then I recommend applying by hand, unless the walks are WIDE.

The Urea came in paper bags with a plastic liner like concrete and mortar come in. Not something you'd want to leave out in the back of your truck while it's snowing.

I'm with JCurtis, and John Parker, I recommend Magic, though it may not be available locally. Then again, John will ship anywhere in the continental US.

You can find out more about it at:


Alan Addict
Yup,, that stuff is Urea, a very highly concentrated nitrogen compound. In any amount high enough to melt ice it will do a number on turf next to the area treated. The problem is made worse by the amount of the stuff you have to put down to have an effect on ice. Magic salt or a product called CMA (if you can afford it) will give results with much less collateral damage.

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