For years, doctors have told people to stick to a low-salt diet. According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), our waters should follow the same advice. When snow and ice start to accumulate on Minnesota roads, parking lots and sidewalks, one of the most common reactions is to apply salt, which contains chloride, a water pollutant. When snow and ice melt, most of the salt goes with it, washing into our lakes, streams and rivers. Once in the water, there’s no way to remove the chloride, and it becomes a permanent pollutants.
There are many ways to reduce salt use while maintaining high safety standards:
- More salt does not mean more melting.Use less than four pounds of salt per 1,000 square feet (an average parking space is about 150 square feet). One pound of salt is approximately a
heaping 12-ounce coffee mug.
- Shovel.The more snow and ice you remove manually, the less salt you will have to use and the more effective it can be. Break up ice with an ice scraper and decide whether application of a de-icer or sand is even necessary to maintain traction.
- 15 degrees is too cold for most salt to work.Most salts stop working around this temperature. Instead, use sand for traction.
- Sweep up extra salt.If salt or sand is visible on dry pavement, it is no longer doing any work and will be washed away.
Finally, consider changing the direction of your drain spouts so melting water doesn’t run onto walkways and driveways where ice can form.