Dealing with a steep, slippery, gravel driveway in winter (update)

The weather has turned mild here in Michigan, but winter is far from over.  On that note – probably the single most viewed post I’ve written on this quiet little blog of mine is last year’s How to fix a slippery driveway hill without damaging the environment.  Multiple people per day ask Google how to deal with a steep, slippery driveway and end up on my humble outpost of a blog. Since I feel their pain, having had to get my minivan winched out of the drop-off beside our driveway not once but TWICE (with the second time involving some rather unkind verbal exchanges between myself and my incredulous husband while standing on the edge of the embankment up to our knees is snow, but let’s not talk about that now), I am reposting the link above to the original post along with a few added notes below.

We use industrial absorbent diatomaceous earth to keep our driveway passable in winter. Diatomaceous earth is made entirely of fossilized algae, so it is not harmful to the environment or your landscaping.


Our steep, curving gravel driveway, sprinkled with industrial absorbent diatomaceous earth and pictured here with a ferocious Shiba Inu.

Almost every major auto parts store carries diatomaceous earth as an oil absorbent.  Note that this is NOT food-grade diatomaceous earth powder that is sometimes added to grains to keep pests from destroying them while stored, like this stuff:

This will NOT work on your driveway

Rather, it has a course texture, almost like cat litter, but it is NOT clay-like when it gets wet:

It does not become slippery or caked-up.  It stays granular so that your tires can grip it.  Here is some on my driveway a couple of weeks ago:


At $5-10 per bag, it’s a very cheap way of dealing with a steep, icy, gravel driveway.  It sticks around pretty well, so if you spread some on your driveway, you shouldn’t need to add more unless you get a bunch of additional snow that covers it up.

I hope this advice is helpful to someone out there and saves you both the tow-truck fee for a winching-out and the marital strife that may occur when your husband makes a flippant remark about your driving skills while your minivan dangles over the edge of a drop off. 🙂