5 Winter Shoveling Hacks

A truck covered in snow with a shovel leaning against it.
  • 2-6 hours
  • Beginner
  • 10-75
What You'll Need
Cooking spray
Generic dish liquid
Rubbing alcohol
Gallon warm water
Plastic tarps

Before I started my business, I worked for a newspaper and one of my jobs was to ensure the morning deliveries were picked up on time. While it wasn’t the most strenuous job I’ve ever had, it meant I was driving around at 3 AM in all kinds of weather. I was fine in the rain and tolerated the cold, but it was the snow that continuously got to me, and as winter weather is just around the corner, I felt it time to divulge a bit of what I learned when working in the elements. Snow is a pretty natural wonder, but for one caught unprepared it can also be a huge pain in the neck. Therefore this article will detail 3 life hacks I learned when shoveling and dealing with snow that can aid you in dealing with winter's worst.

1. Cover Your Shovel in Cooking Spray

A person flinging snow into the air with a shovel.

As anyone living in snow can attest, there are many different types of snowfall. Some is light and fluffy, which creates snowdrifts that limit visibility, and others are dense and great for packing. It is the heavy, wet kind that tends to prove the most difficult to shovel, so allow this DIY hack to lighten your load.

To keep snow and ice from adhering to your shovel, simply spray a light coating of cooking oil on its front and back. To avoid a mess later, remember to have some towels handy to wipe the tool down with once the snow is cleared. When I tell you this trick makes shoveling easier, I am telling the truth. It works so well that I keep a can in my winter readiness bag in the trunk of my car.

2. Wear Socks Over Shoes

Here is a cool hack for added traction when shoveling. According to a study published in the New Zealand Medical Journal, to prevent unneeded falls when treading on icy ground, a second layer of socks should be put on over shoes. This unconventional method for added traction has apparently been greatly embraced by the locals there, so much so that the council of the city of Dunedin has made motions advising it to residents.

3. Make a Salt Alternative

A snowy and icy sidewalk.

The spreading of salt in the wintertime is so common where I am from that I was actually quite surprised to learn what kind of damage the habit can inflict on local roads and sidewalks. Apparently the mineral slowly eats away at any hardened concrete it comes into contact with, and although there are sealants and special techniques that can slow erosion, this DIY hack is an easy alternative to protect against damage. Make a salt alternative with the following ingredients:

1 tsp of generic dish liquid

1 TB of rubbing alcohol

1/2 gallon warm water

Combine the above ingredients together in a bucket and pour the mixture over sidewalks and pathways to quickly melt ice without damaging walkways.

4. Set a Shoveling Schedule

Despite living in a snow-filled area my whole life, I didn’t know until recently the logic behind a shoveling schedule. According to the old-timers in my neighborhood, when a lot of snow is predicted the worst thing one can do is burrow in for the night, leaving the huge snowdrifts to be shoveled in their entirety the following morning. Apparently, one should set a schedule to lightly shovel every one to two hours depending on the amount anticipated, therefore preventing a huge pile-up to remove all at once later.

5. Use the No-shovel Solution

A row of boats covered in tarps surrounded by snow.

Did you ever protect your car windshield from excessive ice and snow by placing a piece of cardboard on top of it to find a clean, scrape-free windshield when uncovered the next morning? This DIY hack works similarly. When a winter storm is anticipated, place a plastic tarp over exposed sidewalks and walkways, with each corner held down by bricks or pieces of firewood. As odd as it sounds, once the snow flurries end, all one must do is pull on the corners of the tarp, uncovering an unsoiled, unfrozen path. I know it sounds simplistic, but this DIY hack really works.