What is a Snow Shovel?

B. Miller

A snow shovel is a tool used for removing snow from areas where people need to walk outside, such as sidewalks, driveways, or stairs. There are different types of snow shovels to make the task easier. Most are designed similarly, with a long handle and a large, flat blade for scraping the snow off surfaces.

A snow shovel may be used to remove snow from areas where people need to walk.
A snow shovel may be used to remove snow from areas where people need to walk.

Different styles of snow shovels work better for different people. For example, some snow shovels have large, metal blades, which work well for removing snow from large areas. However, this type of snow shovel is quite heavy, especially when loaded with snow, and may be difficult for some people to lift. A snow shovel with a smaller metal blade might be a better choice, or even one with a plastic blade.

A snow shovel with a plastic blade is designed to be lighter and easier to lift and maneuver, but will generally be less durable than a shovel with a metal blade. Some snow shovels feature telescoping handles, so they can be used by people of different heights. Other types of snow shovels will fold for storage -- these can be a great idea to keep in the car, in case the car gets stuck somewhere and needs to be shoveled out.

For those people who have a weak back or other condition that prevents them from shoveling with a traditional snow shovel, other types of shovels are available. These include power shovels, which are similar in design to a small snow thrower, and will typically run on a battery or need to be plugged in during use. Power shovels will generally only work with a few inches of light snow, so they may not be a good choice for dense, wet snow. Some power shovels can also be used as power brooms during the rest of the year, and may be used to clean leaves off the driveway, for example.

Other snow shovels feature wheels, and though they are still human powered, they work like a small plow. This allows the user to push the snow rather than having to lift and throw it. Again, this type of snow shovel will generally work best with a small amount of snow, which means needing to shovel more frequently throughout the day, and perhaps not at all if the snow is dense and heavy. The alternative to a snow shovel is, of course, a snow thrower, but they are significantly more expensive, and require maintenance.

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Discussion Comments


Snow shovel advances like the ones mentioned in the article have made removing snow less difficult. Getting the snow out of your way is still a task, but I am thankful I have options. I own one of the shovels with wheels and I prefer using it on my driveway rather than using one of the traditional snow shovel designs, which would take more time and energy.


Shoveling snow can be a full-time winter job where I live. For all of you who live in warm weather climates, take my word for it, shoveling snow is hard and tiring work. I would much rather pay someone with a snowplow to clear my driveway than try to do the job with a hand snow shovel.


I know we all complain about having to shovel snow, especially after the big winter storms, but for my money, nothing beats the snow shovel for removing snow from the sidewalks and driveways. Some machines take less manual labor, but for the price, I'm sticking with the snow shovel.

Though I haven't used one, I hear good comments about the electric snow shovel, and from what I understand they aren't too expensive.

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