Winter has arrived, and we should plan on dealing with winter weather the next several months.
With winter comes snow and ice which can lead to dangerous conditions on our roads, driveways and sidewalks. One tool to help fix those dangerous conditions is de‐icing salt. While salt can help make roadway and sidewalk conditions safer, it can come at an environmental cost. Excess or residual de‐icing salt, which contains chloride, can make its way into nearby streams and lakes and harm fish, waterfowl and other aquatic life.
To help lessen the environmental impact of de‐icing salt, here are a few ideas for “smart salting”:
- Check the temperature – It may be too cold for salt to be effective. Most salts stop working around 15o F. When temperatures drop below that threshold, avoid using salt and use sand for traction instead.
- Don’t over salt – Adding more salt does not increase melting. Try to use less than four pounds of salt per 1,000 square feet. A typical residential driveway is approximately 750 square feet to 1,300 square feet depending on the number of garage stalls.
- Choose the right salt – There are four primary types of de‐icing salts: sodium chloride, calcium chloride, potassium chloride and magnesium chloride. The most environmentally friendly type is magnesium chloride which releases 40 percent less chloride than sodium chloride or calcium chloride and works in temperatures as low as ‐13o F.
- Clean up extra salt – If salt remains on dry pavement, it is no longer melting ice and could be washed away. Sweep up the extra salt and reuse it on the next icy patch.
- Updated: 01/04/2018