Everyday Angels

‘Clever’ tips for ice and snow

File art: Readers of the Charlott Observer’s “I’m So Clever Column” have lots of tricks and tips for surviving ice and snow.
File art: Readers of the Charlott Observer’s “I’m So Clever Column” have lots of tricks and tips for surviving ice and snow. ogaines@charlotteobserver.com

Charlotte Observer readers have submitted these suggestions over the years for dealing with ice and snow. Submit your idea to clever@charlotteobserver.com and you may win our “I’m So Clever” book.

Who Needs a Scraper?

Get an old towel, blanket or large piece of cardboard and put it on your windshield before the snow and ice hit. My father-in-law uses old moving blankets and it makes for a lot less time in the morning getting ready to go out. Emily Cox, Charlotte

Salt water solution

Table salt, rock salt and sea salt are the same when it comes to melting ice. I wouldn’t use table salt for large areas because it is much more expensive than rock salt. However, it works in a pinch.

In fact, a good idea is to put a 1/4 cup of table salt in a quart of water. Heat it until the salt is well dissolved. Pour it over your icy steps. It will melt the ice immediately and it won’t re-freeze as fast and leaves you with a layer of salt water that will keep your doorstep ice-free for longer than one day.

This will help you get out the door to go buy that bigger bag of rock salt. Ann Spinks, Kershaw, SC

Seed Spreader

I use a handheld grass seed spreader to spread salt on concrete areas. It gives even coverage and uses less salt. The less salt you use and still do a good job, the better. It means less salt run off when the rains come. I also store my salt in a 20-gallon plastic drum with a lid. It keeps the salt from absorbing moisture and becoming a hard mass.

Scott Soden, Clover, S.C.

The Ol’ Floor Mat Trick

If your car is stuck in snow or ice, take out your floor mats, turn them upside down (so you don’t get tire rubber on the carpet) and place them under and in front of the drive wheels. You’ll be out in no time. Don’t forget to pick up your mats before driving off. Tony Jabon. Charlotte

Coffee grounds help with traction

Use coffee grounds for traction on sidewalk and driveway. Christy Rushing, Charlotte

Use Regular Shovel

I didn’t have a snow shovel and had to clear my long driveway that was a sheet of ice. I broke up some of the chunks with my regular shovel and got out my leaf blower and blew all the ice away and cleaned it perfectly! Beth Loughery, Matthews

Useful Tarp Ideas for Small Dogs

This is a tip for owners of small dogs which must go outside to do their business but won’t go in the snow or it’s a hassle to get them to go in the snow or ice: Before the snow arrives, place a tarp on the ground in a grassy area your pet normally would use for its business. Secure it in place if it’s windy. Once the snow has stopped falling, grab the corners of the tarp (may need help depending on the amount of snow) and drag the snow-covered tarp to another spot of the yard and dump. Now you have a large square snow-free grassy area for your little pup to do its business. David Stout,Lincolnton

Cat Litter for Snow and Ice

Keep a bag of cat litter in your trunk during the winter in case you get stuck in snow or ice. If your tires spin out and you can’t shovel your way out grab the bag of cat litter. Spreading it in front of all 4 tires and a little behind will provide you enough traction for your tires so you can get out of your tough situation. Paul Dublar, Charlotte

Spiked Shoes may Prevent a Fall

Like the snow we just had with the ice and sleet on top, the old spiked shoes will get you anywhere without a fall. If you have to put out the rollouts or pick up the paper you could save yourself some broken bones. Virginia B. Caldwell, Charlotte

Protect the Windshield

Get an old towel, blanket or large piece of cardboard and put it on your wind shield before the snow and ice hit. You may have to clear off some of your car but it takes a lot less time to do it if you don’t have to scrape a whole wind shield. My father in law uses old moving blankets and it makes for a lot less time in the morning getting ready to go out (if you have to). Emily Cox, Charlotte

Leaf-blow the Snow

Instead of shoveling or sweeping, use a leaf blower when you get just a little bit of snow. Chris Chrislie, Gold Hill

Waterproof with Plastic Bags

I’m always looking at ways to reuse my plastic grocery bags at least once or twice before I return them to the grocery store’s recycling bins. When it snows and we don’t want to get our shoes soaked while getting the car warmed up, we tie a couple of plastic grocery bags loosely around our shoes and it keeps the snow off. Also, when we go out in the snow for extended periods of time, we put on our socks and then wrap our feet in a couple of bags and then put on our boots. It adds an extra layer of waterproofing, keeping our socks dry even if our boots get soaked! Gina Mitchell, Hickory

Use Towels for Walking

I keep two bath towels in my car in icy weather. When I am ready to come into the house and the sidewalk/driveway is icy, I open the car door, lean out and place one of the towels on the icy area. I stand on that towel and place the second towel down, closer to where I’m trying to reach, and stand on it. I pick up the first towel, place it in front of me and continue this procedure until I reach my destination! I don’t leave the towels out once I arrive because they will become icy and will not be safe to use the next time. Sue Martin, Blowing Rock

Make a Creative Dish while “Snowed In”

When we are stuck at home due to snow and ice we use food items that have been sitting around for a while. It is a great family event to come up with creative dishes and we use up the extra food that we have had for in our cabinets and fridge. This week we made a really great chili with a few tablespoons of chocolate chips, it was very tasty! Paul Roy Hunt, Fletcher

A Water Softener Trick

Instead of buying rock salt to melt the porches and walkways when it snows, go to Lowe’s or Home Depot and buy the water softener. It’s 98.5% salt, and $3 less per bag! Allan Smith, Vale

Make your own Sled

I didn’t have a sled to take advantage of the snow so we made one. There are three ingredients: a piece of 1/4 inch plywood (about two feet by four foot), some rope and a drill. Drill two small holes in the top corners, thread the rope through and tie two knots on the bottom side so you have a handle. It will cost you around $8 and the rope and wood is always available at a home improvement store while sleds aren’t! It’s cheap and only takes about five minutes to put together. The ones we made worked better than the sleds we purchased. Hilary Armel, Charlotte

Car stuck? Use a Shingle

I have three roof shingles under the mat in my trunk. If my car is stuck in snow or ice, I put a shingle under the drive wheels and they give me traction to move the vehicle. These were left over shingles. Barbara Garren, Taylorsville

Send your clever tip, address and phone to clever@charlotteobserver.com or Home Section, Charlotte Observer, P.O Box 30308, Charlotte, NC 28230-0308. Each week the best idea wins an “I’m So Clever” book, which is now available at Paper Skyscraper.