How I Remove Ice From Walkways

Sometimes no matter how advanced technology gets, the best methods of approaching a particular task may never be able to be improved beyond the point where they are currently at.

A great example of this is a story a brother-in-law of mine shared with me a while back.

He is now retired Navy, but during his career was an engineer within the armed forces who most of what he did he could never talk about – the Top Secret stuff – but I do remember an interesting tidbit that stuck in my mind one time when he was sharing of a recent trip he had taken.

Part of the duties of what he did was to travel around the country to make sure that factories manufacturing different components for a variety of items our military uses, were operating as optimally as possible.

From the teeny tiny to the humongous, I can only imagine how cool it must have been to see all of these things in their process of being made, and also being entrusted by our government to make suggestions with not only the products themselves, but also in these ways that they were being produced.

This particular item that stands out in my head was made at – literally – an ancient factory in Pennsylvania where the tools they use today to make this one specific “widget” are the same tools that have been being used for decades.

Not only have these tools remained the same for eons, but so have the specifications of the widget itself.

I quizzed my brother-in-law on this and even when being pressed, he confidently relayed that for what the widget is called upon to do, it has maxed out in any other way it can be perfected and the system that is used to create the widget is maxed out in productive efficiency as well.

This widget is at its ceiling of being able to be improved and it is a good example of items all around us that fall under this same umbrella.

During Winters in New England, it is not uncommon for us to be faced with areas around our homes and businesses that become sheets of ice.

While there are all kinds of approaches in terms of removing these annoying patches of ice, I tend to default to one that is in-line with one of these types of items which cannot be made any better than the way it is done so already.

I am sure some folks would suggest to:

– Use some type of salt/ice melt, while this will work, there is the idea of what some folks will get concerned about with regard to the damage the product may cause to the areas around it

– Use heavier machinery, while this will work, not everyone has easy access to more robust equipment

– Use hot water, while this will work, there is a good chance – depending on the temperatures – that things will freeze again to some degree afterward

So then, what do I suggest using?

An ‘ice chopper’.

This is a long-handled tool that may even be multi-purposed to serve as a lawn edger during warmer times of the year.

The head of the ice chopper is made out of steel and looks almost like a tiny, uncurved dustpan.

An ice chopper is super effective, though it certainly does take a bit of elbow grease to use.

To use it, all you do is (a little bit at a time) hold the handle and strike the ice repeatedly in an up and down fashion.

As you do this, you will get more and more used to it and develop techniques to increase your efficiency.

Though there may be an extended time element involved, this will definitely work and help free the walkway of dangerous ice that is just sitting there waiting to cause someone to slip on it.

My guess is this is the same tool that folks used a hundred years ago and one that will still be relevant one hundred years from now.

Similar to the military widget, the ice chopper is a highly effective product that works as wonderful today as it did decades ago and has very much maxed out all areas around it for improvement.

These types of examples are perhaps the perfect combination of the age-old sayings:

“If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”


“The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

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