Using too much salt to de-ice can have negative impacts on our waterways. Fortunately, municipalities and individuals are stepping up their efforts to use salt wisely.
S.A.L.T. SMART BEST PRACTICES
Stuff: Road salt (sodium chloride) works best above 20°F. For colder temperatures, you can use a small amount of sand for added traction, or switch to melting product designed to work at colder temperatures.
Amount: Contrary to popular belief, spreading more salt does not improve deicing. One 12-ounce coffee cup full of salt is enough to cover about 10 standard sidewalk squares. There should be about 3 inches between salt granules. Using a spread helps ensure consistent spacing, and you always sweep up excess salt if you find you’ve used too much.
Location: Salt only belongs on your sidewalk and driveway. That means there’s no need to salt your lawn, flower beds, or the bases of trees. Accidentally applying salt to these areas will likely harm your plants!
Timing: Salt works best when applied before the snow falls or right after snow is removed from your sidewalk or driveway. Never apply salt when rain is in the forecast, as it will wash away into the storm drain and out into our waterways. While many people think of salt as “natural,” one teaspoon of salt permanently pollutes 5 gallons of freshwater, making it less suitable to support the fish and wildlife we love in our streams.
More salt resources
- General Education:
- Salt Mini-Course – Dig deeper into the impacts of salt and salt-use best practices for your home or business with this short module from City of Minneapolis.
- Test Your Salt IQ! – This two-minute quiz from the Izaak Walton League of America is a great way to review what you’ve learned so far
- Where does your rainwater flow? – Click to drop a raindrop near your home and learn exactly what waterways your stormwater passes through and where it ends up.
- Digging into Details:
- Winter Maintenance Application Rates and Guidance for Parking Lots, Sidewalks and Trails – Exactly what product is best for deicing at different temperatures? This guide from WI SaltWise has the answers.
- Salt Storage and Best Use Video – Locally, TMACOG put together a short video packed with information for how your business can best manage salt.
- Smart Salting Assessment Tool – The SSAT is a free, web-based tool that can be used to assist public and private winter maintenance organizations in determining where opportunities exist to improve practices, make reductions in salt use, and track progress.
- Just for Fun:
- ‘Watershed’ by the Hypoxic Punks – Who knew a song about salty waterways could be so catchy?