Can Snow Blowers Break Ice?

A snow blower makes a great investment for anyone who lives in a snowy climate. Instead of spending hours shoveling snow off your driveway and sidewalk, with a snow blower you can clear it in just minutes. But before you spend your hard-earned money on a snow blower, make sure you know what it can — and can’t — do. For instance, some people may wonder: Can snow blowers break ice?

In addition to clearing snow off your driveway or front steps, getting rid of ice around your home in the winter is a safety issue. The presence of ice on a driveway or sidewalk can be extremely dangerous and lead to falls. So if ice forms in these areas, you’ll want to get rid of it as soon as possible before any accidents occur. A snow blower may be just the tool to help with this.

When shopping for a snow blower, you’ll want to carefully evaluate your needs. An occasional light dusting of snow can be cleared with a small electric snow blower, but heavy snowfall and ice requires something more heavy-duty. Here we’ll take a look at the question “Can snow blowers break ice?”, examine how they do so, and determine whether or not they’re a viable solution for icy winter sidewalks.

Can snow blowers break ice or not?

In general, the answer to this question is yes. But depending on the kind of snowblower being used and the kind of ice that needs to be broken, you might find it to be a simple task — or an impossible one. 

The difficulty level will depend on how thick the ice is, and how heavy-duty (or not!) your snow blower is. A lightweight snow blower may only be able to handle very thin shards of ice. If thicker ice that’s frozen solid is present, you’ll need a more powerful snowblower to clear it.  In general, you’ll find that a two or three stage gas snow blower is best suited for this task.

How do snow blowers work on ice?

Now you may be wondering: So how exactly can a snow blower achieve the task of clearing ice, anyway? Basically, the snow blower must break the ice into smaller pieces that can be picked up by the auger and then dispelled just like regular snow would be. That’s right: Given the proper conditions like we discussed above, a snow blower can also function as an ice blower. This is definitely something a snow shovel can’t do!

Understanding the basic mechanism of a snow blower will help us understand its efficiency. In order to clear the stuff on the ground beneath it, snow blowers come with augurs in double-staged blowers and paddles in single-staged ones. The dual stage snow blowers are far more efficient for breaking ice than the single ones, as they are heavy duty machines. Selecting the right snow blower for the job will help improve efficiency and save time.

What Are Snow Blower Stages & Which One Works for Ice?

If you’re wondering what we mean by a two- or three-stage snow blower, allow us to explain.

When shopping for a snow blower you’ll notice several different options: single-stage electric, single-stage gas, two-stage gas, and three-stage gas. To figure out the right one for your needs, consider how big your property is, how much snowfall you typically get, and whether or not your property (such as your driveway) is on a slope.

Single stage snow blowers

If you only need to cover small areas and your area generally gets 8 inches or fewer of snowfall, a single-stage will do the job. For example, if you just need to clear off your front steps and walkway, a single-stage snow blower is perfect.

Single-stage snow blowers have an auger that throws the snow through a discharge chute. Because this auger directly contacts the surface you’re clearing snow from, you should only use them on paved surfaces. If used on gravel, a single-stage snow blower will throw up rocks which could be dangerous while moving snow.

Two stage snow blowers

If you have a large area that needs to be cleared of snow and/or a driveway that’s on a slope, consider a two-stage power snow blower. They have power-assisted wheels that make clearing bigger areas or inclined areas easier, making them great for heavy snows.

Two-stage snow blowers have an auger that collects the snow, then a fan shoots the snow through a chute. Because the auger on a two-stage blower doesn’t directly touch the ground, they can be used on gravel just fine.

Now you can clearly see a two-stage snow blower is the way to go when working with ice. So now the question is: Electric or gas?

  1. Electric blowers – Being cheap to operate and low on maintenance, they can help break ice but do not perform very well in extremely cold and icy weather conditions. Keep in mind you may need to use an extension cord to reach some areas.
  2. Gas blowers – This is just what you need to break ice as they are tough and big and can get rid of any kind of ice that comes their way in the worst of weather conditions.

An electric snow blower will work fine for ice up to 4 inches. But for 6 inch deep snow or ice or more, you’ll want to get a two or three-stage gas-powered snow blower.

Techniques for using an ice breaking snow blower

A gas-powered dual or triple-stage snow blower has augers that can break huge chunks of ice. The ice ridge in your driveway may be able to be broken by the snow blower. A good idea would be to whack the ridge of ice into chunks of ice and then run the snow blower over it.

Snow blowers are designed to run on the ground and pick up all the loose material and blow it away. If you have a sheet of ice on your driveway, the snow blower can’t tell the difference between the ground and ice. So in order to clear ice, breaking it into pieces first is helpful.

Safety tips

Before using a snow blower to clear ice, make sure you’re up to speed on snow blower safety.

  • Read all the safety precautions given in the manual before use.
  • Never stick hands in the churning blades.
  • Do not run behind a snow blower.
  • Keep children away while in use.

Final thoughts

Snow blowers are easy to use and in addition to clearing snow, they can get rid of dangerous ice. Just make sure that if you intend to use it for this purpose, you choose the right model. Purchase a two- or three-stage snow blower and you’ll be clearing all the slippery ice from your driveway in no time.

Ready to shop for a snow blower?

Now that you know the answer to the question “Can snow blowers break ice?”, you should have a better idea of which type to buy. Check out our picks for the Best Snow Blowers of 2021 and learn the perfect time to buy a snowblower. Happy snow blowing!

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  1. Maurice

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