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No salt or snow shovel? Try these DIY alternatives

Most stores have run out of shovels and ice melt
Winter Weather New Hampshire
Posted at 5:30 PM, Feb 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-15 23:47:42-05

CINCINNATI — Need a snow shovel or salt? Good luck! Cincinnati-area stores are pretty much bare after two weeks of snow and ice.

Molly Helton is among many Tri Staters who can't find ice melter anywhere.

"I have looked for something for the steps at the apartment where I live but I can't find it anywhere," Helton said Monday outside the Oakley Kroger.

It appeared the store might have a few bags piled up outside the entrance, but they turned out to be garden mulch.

At the Pleasant Ridge Lowe's, we found more of the same: Stacks of grass seed and lawn fertilizer, but no salt.

Home Depot was stocked up with hand sanitizer and Clorox spray, which most of us would have killed for early last year. But no salt.

Carl Combs of Over-the-Rhine got lucky, grabbing Home Depot's last shovel for the apartments he manages.

"I got here and saw these last two shovels, I saw a guy loading up four of them, and I said, 'I had better get some myself,'" he said.

Home-based alternatives

So what can you do if you cannot find a shovel or salt anywhere? Try some home alternatives.

  • A garden shovel can work on a sidewalk.
  • A corrugated cardboard Amazon box, folded over, can work too, at least on snow
  • For ice melt, check your kitchen cabinets for Morton table salt or vinegar, which both melt ice.

Of course, vinegar and kitchen salt are just for small areas, such as your front steps.

  • If you need a larger area of coverage, try cat litter over an icy sidewalk, but make sure it is not the clumping variety.

The bad news is that distributors have moved on to spring products -- like fertilizer and grass seed -- meaning stores will continue struggling to find salt.

So you may have to be creative until next week's warming.

We found a Fairfax homeowner using a leaf blower on his snowy sidewalk.

"With dry snow, it works great," he said.

But for safety's sake, make sure it is gas, not one with a power cord where you could get electrocuted.

Most stores, meantime, still have jugs of windshield wiper fluid, but you will want to grab some of that, too, before it's all gone.

As always, don't waste your money.


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