How is saw dust for traction?

Rather than carry heavy kitty litter, would dry, lightweight saw dust similarly aid traction as well as kitty litter?


I have not tried it, but I would expect it to do OK.

It’s better than nothing, but not as good as kitty litter.

Saw dust, or Kitty Litter, is just an excuse for not having the correct tires.

Winter tires are essential, especially in your line of business.

Why are you asking this question?

If you’ve got ‘heavy kitty litter’, you might have the clumping/clay type, which is not good for traction, turns to mud.


I want to INCREASE fuel mileage hauling around LESS WEIGHT.
Also, I have a source of FREE saw dust.

This would be for the Expedition and wife’s Camry Hybrid.

Because driving an Expedition around at 106 MPH on grossly overinflated tires no less, is a particularly frugal pursuit. You know a WRX wagon, or even an A6 quatro wagon would be ideal vehicles for your line of work.

Better than nothing, looses its effectiveness compared to sand as it gets wet. Wood chips would be a better choice IMO, than saw dust.

But sand is too heavy.
Howell would dry grass clippings work?

There is a community in central NJ (I will not identify it, out of sensitivity for the poor dim-witted creatures who live there) that has large deposits of red clay. Many years ago, they had an active brick-making industry. The brick-making is long gone, but the red clay remains, to a great extent.

Each winter, rather than spend money on sand, salt, cinders, or anything that actually results in improved traction, and rather than do anything more than some cursory plowing, the city spreads dry red clay on snowy/icy roads. The result is traction that is probably worse than if nothing was done, and–of course–it results in very dirty roads and cars.

Years ago, when I commuted to work in that town, I would drive through 6 or 7 municipalities on my way to “Red Clay Town”. You could always tell when you reached their city limits because plowed roads suddenly became snowbound, yet strangely filthy from the effects of the red clay.

So–if you want another useless substance to spread on the ground after you run out of that saw dust, you might want to try dry red clay.

I’ve seen sawdust used on walking paths and it works. It’s not better than dry sand, however. I keep dry sand in a plastic container that seals and allows easy spreading. I use old Gatorade bottles, but anything will work. The containers prevent the sand from absorbing water or leaking and make it easy to remove in the summer and store for the next winter. It’s only there for use should I be unable to get moving from a stop on an icy incline. I spread enough to get a bit of momentum.

That is bizarre. I am in VA where there is plenty of red clay. If I had a choice as to whether I’d like to drive on ice or wet red clay I might just take the ice since the traction would be about the same, but it would be cleaner.

T’was an idea worth trying to make use of a free resource and also reduce the pile.
Grass clippings and saw dust are a lightweight “green” solution.
Just don’t know how well it works.
Wish I had not mulched our grass clippings.

"But sand is too heavy.
Howell would dry grass clippings work? "

There is no free lunch. One thing that makes sand effective is it’s density which increases the weight. The other is it’s traction surface which is irregular. The more coarse, the better, until you start breaking windshields as they wedge in treads and are thrown about.

Saw dust is no where near as dense and being small shavings cut from a saw blade using a smooth cut, the surfaces tend to be smooth and more regular. Surprisingly, snow flakes make great traction aids with their irregular shapes the instance they adhere ice at slightly below freezing and before they soften and smooth out or pile up. Same with frost.
To varying degree, your kitty litter, coal and wood ash work with all their own unique problems.
The problem is, you need almost the same weight of anything else to give you similar results of sand. So use as little sand as possible to do the trick to keep the weight down. Simple and more effective.

BTW, don’t leave grass clippings around for mice to bed in a trunk…more problems.
I like small containers of dry sand spread judiciously.

As noted before…good winter tires practically eliminate the need for this discussion.

As noted before…good winter tires practically eliminate the need for this discussion.

But I hate to spend a fortune on snow tires which may not really be needed.
I have tire chains which I have not used in twentyears.

Yes, your small containers aid applying the sand where it is needed.

Stop and think of it…if you need sand to get started, don’t you then need winter tires to stop and turn ? And “may not” really need them, means that the drivers in your family “may not be worth that fortune” in your opinion.

Your call, but if I think I need to carry sand around, I’m certainly not going to quibble about winter tires. Over the life of the car, winter tires cost NO MORE in total when rotated, as they allow you to get more use out of summers when not asked to be winters as well. I pay no more for my tires which include two sets than my friends who do not. So the $$$$$$ argument is a fallacy.
At the very least, I would opt for all seasons that have at least average winter traction at the expense of quite summer ride.

Everything that dagosa stated is indeed a valid argument.
However, after our previous extended debate on the safety of driving a Ford Expedition at 105 mph, I think that we are most likely wasting our breath if we try to convince Mr. Gift that he needs winter tires in order to be able to stop and to corner safely.

The Expedition has 18 inch M&S tires.
Ideally, I’d like to get 3 17 inch wheels and use the 17 inch spare to which to mount 4 very aggressive snow tires.
Then put them on before a good snow arrives.
But that is a fortune.

I can slow down from 120 mph and stop safely.

The sawdust is just for ice in driveways and hospital and work parking lots.

Saw dust should work reasonably well. Just spread enough of it in front of the tires to get going. A few hand-fulls in front of each tire should do it.

“I can slow down from 120 mph and stop safely.”

Here we go again.
Before this becomes an extended debate on Mr. Gift’s obvious gifts regarding safe operation of a motor vehicle, I think that I will bow out of this conversation.