Many people purchase de-icing salt and apply it to their roads, sidewalks and driveways when it snows or sleets.
While this may seem like the best solution, when the salt melts the snow and the mixture enters storm drains. From here, the salt travels to our streams as untreated, polluted runoff which is harmful to our environment. This includes our drinking water sources, infrastructure like pipes and pumps needed to supply water to our customers. Additionally, you’ll often see a disruption to freshwater organisms after a snow storm due to the high use of sodium and chloride ions, which are the result of salt dissolving.
Here are tips to remember when removing ice this season:
- Know the Temperature: When the pavement temperature is below 15 degrees, salt will not work.
- Be “Pet-Friendly”: Just because the bag says “eco-friendly” or “safe” when buying salt doesn’t mean it necessarily is the best solution. Look for products that say they are pet-friendly. It’s more likely to be safe for plants and people – causing less polluted run-off.
- Go for Traction: Alternatives like sand, sawdust, kitty litter and ashes help to increase traction, which salt does not do.
- Salt Early, Not Late: Pay attention to the weather forecast to know when is the right time to lay down salt. If you’re going to salt, apply it just before the snow falls. This helps to prevent snow from sticking on the ground. If you apply salt too late, or after it has already started to lay on the ground, you’ll get less of a benefit.
- Don't Procrastinate Shoveling: clear snow before it turns to ice.
- Avoid Sodium Chloride: It may cheaper, but this chemical concoction disrupts the salinity of water, harming fish and animals as well as eroding soil and damaging trees and vegetation. Look for products containing magnesium chloride instead!