Can A Snow Blower Handle Icy Snow?

So, you wake up to a winter wonderland outside your window and the first thing you realize is that you’re going to have to tackle all that snow somehow. Your trusty snow blower is ready to go, but there’s one question on your mind: can it handle icy snow? After all, icy snow can be a whole different beast to tackle compared to soft powdery snow. In this article, we’ll explore whether a snow blower is up to the challenge of icy snow and provide some tips on how to make the most of your machine in these icy conditions. Yes, a snow blower can handle icy snow, but the effectiveness of the machine will depend on the type of snow blower and the conditions of the snow. There are different types of snow blowers available, including single-stage, two-stage, and three-stage models, each with their own capabilities and features. Understanding how each type handles icy snow and the tips for using them can help you make an informed decision on which snow blower to choose for your needs. In addition, there are also additional features and preparation steps that can enhance your snow blowing experience and ensure safety. So, let’s dive deeper into the topic and explore the different types of snow blowers, understanding icy snow and its characteristics, factors to consider before purchasing a snow blower, and tips for using each type of snow blower on icy snow.

Types of Snow Blowers

Snow blowers come in various designs and sizes, each designed to tackle different snow conditions. Here are the three main types of snow blowers:

Single-stage Snow Blowers

Single-stage snow blowers are lightweight and compact machines, making them convenient for clearing smaller areas with moderate snowfall. These machines are equipped with a single auger that both scoops up the snow and propels it forward, eliminating the need for an impeller. While they are generally not recommended for icy snow, some single-stage snow blowers can handle light ice and slush. However, they may struggle with heavy, compacted ice.

Two-stage Snow Blowers

Two-stage snow blowers are more powerful and versatile than single-stage models, making them suitable for larger areas and heavier snowfall. These machines feature an auger that lifts the snow off the ground and an impeller that throws the snow into the discharge chute. The separation of tasks allows two-stage snow blowers to handle icy snow more effectively, as the auger breaks up the ice while the impeller propels it away. Two-stage snow blowers can handle a wide range of snow conditions, including moderate to heavy ice.

Three-stage Snow Blowers

Three-stage snow blowers are the most powerful and efficient machines for snow removal. They are designed to handle heavy snowfall, deeper snow, and even icy snow with ease. These snow blowers have an additional accelerator that helps break up and propel the snow even farther than two-stage models. The accelerator not only increases the snow throwing distance but also improves the machine’s ability to break through compacted and icy snow. Three-stage snow blowers are ideal for areas with extreme winter conditions or where large snow removal areas are required.

Understanding Icy Snow

Before discussing how snow blowers handle icy snow, it is important to understand the characteristics of icy snow and the challenges it presents.

Characteristics of Icy Snow

Icy snow occurs when the temperature is cold enough for the snow to freeze and form a layer of ice on top. This can happen due to multiple freeze-thaw cycles or when the snow gets compacted underfoot or by passing vehicles. Icy snow is denser and harder than fresh snow, making it more difficult to clear. It can also create a slippery surface and pose safety risks.

Challenges of Snow Blowing Icy Snow

One of the primary challenges of snow blowing icy snow is the increased resistance the machine faces when trying to remove the compacted ice. The auger and impeller may struggle to break through the hard ice, reducing the throwing distance and overall efficiency of the snow blower. Additionally, icy surfaces can cause the snow blower’s wheels or tracks to lose traction, making maneuverability more difficult.

Factors to Consider

When choosing a snow blower for icy snow conditions, there are several key factors to consider:

Engine Power and Torque

The engine’s power and torque determine how effectively the snow blower can handle heavy and compacted snow. Higher power and torque ratings generally result in better performance in challenging conditions, including icy snow.

Auger Design and Material

The design and material of the auger play a crucial role in how well the snow blower can handle icy snow. Consider models with serrated augers or those made from durable materials like steel, as they can help break through the ice and prevent clogging.

Impeller Design and Material

The impeller’s design and material impact the machine’s ability to throw the snow. Look for snow blowers with sturdy impellers and heavy-duty fins, as they can handle icy snow more effectively and reduce the chances of clogging.

Tire Traction

Good tire traction is essential when operating a snow blower on icy surfaces. Opt for models with aggressive tread patterns or those equipped with special features like tire chains or tracks to ensure optimal traction.

Speed Settings

Having multiple speed settings allows you to adjust the snow blower’s pace according to the density of the snow. This feature can be particularly useful when dealing with icy snow, as it allows you to slow down the machine for better control and maneuverability.

Single-stage Snow Blowers and Icy Snow

Single-stage snow blowers are not specifically designed for handling icy snow, but they can still be effective in certain conditions.

How Single-stage Snow Blowers Handle Icy Snow

Single-stage snow blowers rely on the auger to collect and propel the snow, which can make them less effective on icy surfaces. The hard ice can cause the auger to lose traction and struggle to scoop up the snow. In addition, the lack of an impeller means that the machine may not throw the snow as far as desired.

Tips for Using a Single-stage Blower on Icy Snow

While not ideal for heavy ice, single-stage snow blowers can still handle light ice and slush. To improve their performance on icy snow, consider applying a layer of silicone spray or non-stick snow blade coating to the auger. This can help prevent ice build-up, allowing the machine to continue operating smoothly. Additionally, clearing the snow in thin layers can reduce the strain on the machine and improve its effectiveness.

Two-stage Snow Blowers and Icy Snow

Two-stage snow blowers are better equipped to handle icy snow due to their design and increased power.

How Two-stage Snow Blowers Handle Icy Snow

Two-stage snow blowers use both an auger and an impeller to efficiently remove snow, including icy snow. The auger breaks up the snow and ice, while the impeller throws it into the chute. This dual-action process enables the machine to handle heavier and denser snow, reducing the strain on the auger and improving overall performance.

Tips for Using a Two-stage Blower on Icy Snow

When using a two-stage snow blower on icy snow, it is important to adjust the height of the skid shoes or scraper bar to prevent them from scraping against the ice. This ensures that the auger can effectively break up the ice without causing damage to the machine. Additionally, clearing the snow in smaller passes and applying a silicone spray to the chute can help prevent ice build-up and enhance the snow blower’s performance.

Three-stage Snow Blowers and Icy Snow

Three-stage snow blowers are specifically designed to handle heavy and icy snow conditions effectively.

How Three-stage Snow Blowers Handle Icy Snow

Three-stage snow blowers feature an additional accelerator that helps break up the snow and ice before throwing it into the chute. This extra step increases the machine’s capacity to handle icy snow and significantly improves throwing distance. The accelerator also prevents clogging by rapidly propelling the snow out of the machine, ensuring a smooth operation in challenging conditions.

Tips for Using a Three-stage Blower on Icy Snow

To optimize the performance of a three-stage snow blower on icy snow, consider adjusting the skid shoes or scraper bar to provide clearance between the auger and the ice. This allows the accelerator to effectively break up the ice without obstruction. Additionally, periodically cleaning the chute and applying a silicone spray can help reduce ice build-up and prevent any potential issues.

Additional Features for Icy Snow

In addition to the snow blower type and its design, some extra features can enhance snow removal in icy conditions.

Heated Handles

Snow blowers equipped with heated handles can be a valuable feature when working in cold and icy conditions. The heat generated by the handles helps keep your hands warm and prevents them from becoming numb, making the task more comfortable and allowing for extended use.

Headlight for Enhanced Visibility

For early morning or nighttime snow removal, a snow blower with a built-in headlight can be highly beneficial. The headlight improves visibility, making it easier to navigate through icy areas and ensuring that you can effectively clear the snow even in low-light conditions.

Remote Chute Control

Having remote chute control allows you to adjust the direction and angle of the snow discharge without stopping or getting off the machine. This feature can be especially useful when dealing with icy snow, as it allows you to make adjustments on the go and easily avoid blowing the snow back onto an already cleared area.

Preparation and Safety

Before operating a snow blower and tackling icy snow, it is important to take certain preparation steps and prioritize safety.

Clearing the Area

Remove any debris or obstacles from the snow removal area, such as rocks, branches, or toys. Clearing the area ensures that the snow blower can operate smoothly without encountering any potential hazards that can damage the machine or hinder snow removal.

Using Ice Melt or Salt

Applying ice melt or salt to the snow-covered area before snow blowing can help melt the ice and make it easier to clear. It can also provide additional traction, reducing the chances of slipping and enhancing safety.

Wearing Appropriate Clothing and Safety Gear

When operating a snow blower in icy conditions, wearing appropriate clothing and safety gear is crucial. Dress in layers to stay warm and ensure that all clothing is well-fitted and not loose, as loose clothing can get caught in the machine. Additionally, wear sturdy boots with good tread for better grip on slippery surfaces and consider wearing safety goggles and hearing protection.

Tips for Snow Removal Efficiency

To make the most of your snow blowing experience and ensure efficient snow removal in icy conditions, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Avoid Overloading the Machine

While snow blowers are designed to handle various snow conditions, including ice, it is important not to overload the machine. Trying to remove more snow than the snow blower can handle at once can lead to clogging and decreased performance. Clear the snow in manageable passes, allowing the machine to work smoothly and effectively.

Clearing Icy Snow in Layers

When dealing with icy snow, it can be beneficial to clear it in layers. Start by removing the loose top layer and then go back over the area to break up the ice and remove any remaining snow. This approach allows the machine to work more efficiently, reducing strain on the auger and impeller.

Maintaining the Snow Blower Regularly

Regular snow blower maintenance is essential for its optimal performance, especially when tackling icy snow conditions. Clean the machine after each use, remove any ice build-up, and inspect the auger, impeller, and other components for any signs of wear or damage. Keeping the snow blower in good condition will ensure its longevity and reliability.


In conclusion, snow blowers can handle icy snow to varying degrees depending on their design and capabilities. Single-stage snow blowers are best suited for light ice and slush, while two-stage models are more effective in removing heavier and denser ice. However, for extreme icy conditions and heavy snowfall, three-stage snow blowers are the most powerful and efficient option. When using any type of snow blower on icy snow, it is important to consider factors such as engine power, auger and impeller design, tire traction, and speed settings. Additionally, features like heated handles, headlights, and remote chute control can enhance the snow blowing experience. Preparing the area, using ice melt or salt, and wearing appropriate clothing and safety gear are essential for safety. By following these tips and maintaining your snow blower regularly, you can efficiently and effectively clear icy snow from your driveway or walkways. Stay warm, stay safe, and enjoy hassle-free snow removal with the right snow blower for your needs.