I'm experiencing my first real winter. Our house has an asphalt driveway about 100' long. I've been shoveling it when the snow gets too deep, but cars going in and out have left 2–3" of densely-packed snow that is very difficult to get up. I got out my metal garden shovel and used that a bit, but it's slow going and is probably damaging the driveway. Is there a better way?

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    My driveway is much shorter than that, and I've found that the best way to keep it clear is to hire someone to clear it for me. It's not cheap, but I still think it's money well spent -- most of the time, they have it cleared before I leave for work.
    – Johnny
    Commented Feb 22, 2015 at 2:13
  • I do not live in a country where it snows, so I apologize for my ignorance. Wby pouring boiling water and removing it before it freezes will not do the trick?
    – Artium
    Commented Feb 22, 2015 at 21:16
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    Artium: Boiling water actually melts very little snow, for a large input of energy. In almost all cases physically moving the snow is much more effective.
    – keshlam
    Commented Sep 19, 2015 at 17:53
  • I have a concrete driveway, but it's longer than yours (detached garage behind the house), and this is one of my pet peeves w/ roommates in the winter ... driving out without clearing the snow, packing it down. I tend to park at the street end of the driveway (maybe a car-length back, to stay clear of the bank that the plows create), so if I need to escape shortly after the snow falls, I don't have to clear the whole driveway.
    – Joe
    Commented Nov 5, 2019 at 1:25
  • No good way to do that. Well, one good way: shovel it before you drive a car over it! Commented Dec 23, 2020 at 5:46

6 Answers 6


An ice chopper with some weight in the business end, such as this one can be very effective; you can use it to scrape the ice/compressed snow up, and if needed, can chop at the tougher stuff. The tradeoff for the extra weight is more physical exertion, but I find that I make much faster progress.

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    I got a 7" sidewalk scraper and it's been fantastic. Hard work, but it's pretty satisfying levering up a 4" thick chunk of ice from the driveway!
    – Dan
    Commented Mar 7, 2015 at 15:22

Given that you have already got the packed layer (clear any snow before driving on it is the way to avoid that) your choices are chip away at it, chemistry, or physics.

Chemistry is salt or calcium chloride. Salt is cheaper, calcium chloride works at lower temperatures. Even if you don't use enough to melt everything, if it can melt some holes through to the black sufrace, that will help with...

Physics depends on whether the sun shines. When it does, spreading anything that makes the driveway dark will help it to melt itself clear - wood ashes, the dirtier rocksalt (chemistry AND physics), sand, etc. - those will also help to get some traction on the icy layer until it does melt clear. Getting any part of the black surface exposed will also help. Under some conditions, once you get a strip cleared, you may be able to find times of day when you can peel up a fairly large sheet of ice once the sun has started to work on it.

Chipping away at it is a LOT of work for anything more than a tiny driveway.


Realistically it may not be possible to remove 2-3 inches of packed snow & ice at this point without using an obscene amount of ice-melt chemicals. I would say you should just use enough to break up any smooth ice that might be a safety hazard and then wait until temperatures warm enough for you to shovel the slush off.

If you are insistent on trying to remove the snow now, I like to use a heavy snow scoop like this: https://www.suncast.com/sf1850.html The metal edge and two-handed handle make it easier to break up and move packed snow. It might be hard to find something like that this late in the winter, though.

But really, next year you should just try to stay on top of it and shovel before cars drive over the snow.


I use one of these, edger. Works best for me.

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Wait until the temperature drops as low as it will, then it will break up into chunks a lot easier right down to the asphalt or cement surface and shovel off with a lot less effort. From the land of the frozen chozen.


i'm also in search of innovative ways to remove packed snow. I clear driveways all winter long for income, and clients can't help themselves (even during strict lockdowns) but to drive over the fresh snow. This is so frequent in my clientele that I have removed scraping and hard-pack policies from the general snow clearing service, with on-demand and additional charge if they want it. Otherwise I'd be scraping every driveway for a half hour.

I've found that an ice chopper works well for this, and calcium chloride works too, but I also saw a man using a scraper made of flat sheet metal. I can't find anything like it but he was doing magic with a 1' wide x 8" high piece of metal at the end of a stick. Perhaps it was sharpened?

One "faster" way I've found to bring up the hard-pack (only when it's newer, i'd say), is to load up a snow pusher with snow and then - while holding the shovel at angle like a plow - push down and through to the end of the driveway. (I say the end because wehre I live the driveways are always slanted down and using gravity lightens the work). This is a problem with uneven driveways but works on smooth every time if i'm quick on my routes. That being said, it is difficult with a metal wear strip and wears down plastic push shovels.

  • Thanks for the good tips. If you're looking for a scraper, try looking in the roofing section of your local home-improvement center - it sounds like a roofing removal tool.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Dec 23, 2020 at 14:14

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