Essex Highways, Safer, Greener, Healthier

How to clear snow yourself

Clearing snow is hard work and the most important thing is to look after yourself when doing so. If you are going to remove snow and ice, please read our tips below.

You can also download our 'helpful tips' leaflet:

  • start as early as possible - it's much easier to clear fresh, loose snow compared to compacted ice that has been compressed by people walking on it
  • never use hot water - this will melt the snow, but may replace it with black ice, increasing the risk of injury
  • if shovelling snow, think where you are going to put it so that it doesn’t block people’s paths or drainage channels
  • use the sun to your advantage - removing the top layer of snow will allow the sun to melt any ice beneath; however you will need to cover any ice with salt to stop it refreezing overnight
  • spreading salt on the area you have cleared will help stop ice forming - table salt or dishwasher salt will work. If there's no salt available, sand or ash are good alternatives
  • a small handful of salt (about 20g) is enough to cover a square metre of cleared surface
  • be a good neighbour - some people may be unable to clear snow and ice on paths from their property

Suitable tools

  • Plastic light weight snow shovels or wide bladed shovels are the most appropriate tools
  • A regular metal shovel is the next best alternative but not as efficient, as the snow may stick to it
  • If the salt is fine enough, you could use a domestic grass spreader or lawn feeder to spread the salt. Make sure you wash out any salt before using on grass unless you want to kill the grass!
  • Alternatively you can use a small scoop or garden trowel to distribute the salt if doing it by hand
  • A wheel barrow to move tools, carry salt or move snow

Looking after yourself

  • The most important thing is to look after yourself when clearing snow. If at any point you don’t feel confident to complete the task then you should not continue.
  • Suitable clothing goes without saying, boots or wellies and plenty of warm and waterproof clothing. 25% of your body heat is lost through your head and hands so wear gloves and a hat. If you are working near the road it is advisable to be as visible as possible and wear a reflective vest/jacket.