For those of us that live in the colder climates, winter time and ice can be anything from a nuisance to a hazard. We often use salt to reduce the dangers of ice and snow on our driveways and sidewalks. While it’s essential to keep safe in wintertime, it’s important to note that salt doesn’t just disappear when the snow and ice eventually melts. Instead, it can cause irreversible damage as it washes into our lakes and streams, and seeps into our groundwater supply.
Fortunately, you can help prevent salt pollution by limiting the amount of deicers you use on your driveways and sidewalks. Try to avoid using salt altogether. However, if safety concerns require you to control ice, consider following these simple tips to limit salt use:
- Shovel. Try to keep your driveway and walkways free from snow when it first falls.
- Check the temperature–is it too cold for salt? Most salts stop working around 15 degrees (F). When the temperatures drop, use sand for traction, but remember that sand doesn’t melt ice.
- Use salt sparingly. Use no more than one pound of salt for 250 square feet. One heaping coffee mug is about one pound of salt and 250 square feet is roughly the size of two parking spaces.
- Clean-up any extra salt. If you can see sand or salt on dry pavement, it’s means that it is no longer working and could be washed away. Try to reuse salt or sand somewhere else or sweep it up and throw it away
- Tell a neighbor! They may be over-salting too.