The Effects of Different Substances on Melting Ice While Protecting the Lawn

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Author: Muriel Gerhard



Middle School

Difficulty of Project



$ 20-25

Safety Issues

Wear safety glasses, apron and plastic gloves.

Material Availability

Readily available from local pet supply and hardware store

Approximate Time Required to Complete the Project

2 weeks. This includes collection, recording and analysis of data, summary of results and completion of bibliography.


To determine the effects of different substances such as road salt, calcium chloride, sand, kitty litter, calcium magnesium acetate and Safe Paw (a commercial eco-friendly product) on melting ice while protecting the lawn.

Materials and Equipment required

  • rock salt
  • sand
  • kitty litter
  • calcium magnesium acetate
  • Safe Paw
  • 6 glass jars
  • 6 trays of ice cubes
  • 6 plastic spoons
  • measuring  cup
  • 6 small segments of lawn, approximately the same size
  • clock or watch
  • plastic gloves
  • apron
  • safety glasses
  • paper toweling and liquid soap for cleanup


Background Information

On the information level, this experiment serves to acquaint students with current information in the application of basic knowledge in chemistry and its practical applications to daily life such as the melting of ice following rain and snow storms. The research in this area serves to illustrate the continuous advances and improvements made as in this case when we move from the use of rather hazardous materials to those which are eco- friendly, namely,  non- toxic and non – corrosive. This project is an excellent teaching tool demonstrating how field of chemistry advances to bring better and safer products for our use.

This science fair experiment also serves to acquaint students with the essential processes of sciencing such as the importance of the use of a control, of identifying dependent and independent variables, of data collection, of pictorial and or graphic presentation of data and of being able to make better judgments as to the validity and reliability of their findings.  They take on the role of scientists and in the process they learn to act as one.

Research Terms

  • melting point
  • boiling point
  • freezing point
  • melting properties
  • standard atmospheric  pressure
  • endothermic reaction
  • eco-friendly
  • corrosive
  • non-corrosive
  • rock salt
  • table salt

Research Questions

  • What is rock salt?
  • How does rock salt work?
  • Which component of rock salt can be toxic to the environment?
  • What is calcium magnesium acetate?
  • What is the chemical composition of Safe Paw?
  • What is the significance of the name Safe Paw?
  • How were the terms boiling point, freezing point, melting point determined?
  • What is meant by standard atmospheric pressure?
  • What is an endothermic reaction?
  • Why do we prefer using eco friendly chemicals?

Terms, Concepts and Questions to Start Background Research

  • What is a control?  A control is the variable that is not changed in the experiment.
  • What purpose does a control serve? It is used to make comparisons as to what changed or possibly caused the change.
  • What are variables?  Variables are factors that can be changed in an experiment.
  • What is an independent variable? The independent variable is the one that is changed in the experiment.
  • What is a dependent variable? The dependent variable is the one that changes as a result of the change in the independent variable.
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