‘What should I use on my icy driveway?’

The Car Doc weighs in.

Thick ice from a broken water main coats a major road as water crews work on repairs in Portland, Ore., Friday, Dec. 16, 2016. Schools across the Portland metro area closed and driving was slow for another day as below-freezing temperatures prevent ice and snow from Wednesday's snow storm from melting.(AP Photo/Don Ryan)

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Q. I always carried kitty litter or ice melt with me just in case I needed it on my long icy driveway. The problem is, the kitty litter clumps in the bag and the ice-melt seems to suck the moisture out of the air and over time becomes a useless bag of mush. Any up-to-date suggestions?

A. I have always used oil absorbent that is used in garages; it’s basically dried clay granules. Cat litter comes in both clumping and non-clumping formulas, so you might try a different kind from what you’ve used before. I recently found another possible solution, a bucket of Traction Magic. This product doesn’t melt the ice but rather absorbs the thin layer of water that makes the ice slippery and thus adds traction; it’s almost like sandpaper. It is easy to clean up and safe around kids and pets. Although it is a good product, it is a bit pricey; $25 for a 15-pound bucket. Compare that price to $10 for a 40-pound bag of clay-based oil dry or sand that could be sometimes free at your local DPW garage.


John Paul, AAA Northeast’s Car Doctor, answers questions from drivers every week. He has 40+ years of experience in the automotive business and is an ASE certified master technician.