Salting tips to protect Minnesota waters

What’s your go-to solution to clear your sidewalks and driveways of snow? Most of us pull out the snow blower and a shovel and many grab the salt. Salt helps melt ice and helps protect drivers and pedestrians from falls, but it’s important to remember that only one teaspoon of salt permanently pollutes five gallons of water.

According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, an estimated 365,000 tons of salt is used in the metro area each year. When the snow melts, the de-icing salt, which contains chloride, runs into nearby bodies of water. Chloride accumulates in the water and can harm aquatic wildlife. There is no feasible way to treat or remove chloride from the water.

MPCA offers suggestions to reduce reliance on salt and help to keep our water safe.

• Shovel — the more snow and ice you remove, the less salt you’ll need and the more effective it will be.

• Apply less salt. More salt does not mean more melting. A coffee mug full of salt, about 12 ounces, is all you need for a 20-foot driveway or 10 sidewalk squares (about 1,000 square feet).

• Be selective about where you use salt. If you don’t use part of a sidewalk or driveway, don’t salt it.

• Temperatures below 15 degrees are too cold for salt to melt snow or ice. Use sand instead for traction, but remember that sand does not melt ice.

• If salt or sand are visible on dry pavement it is no longer doing any work and will be washed away. Instead, sweep it up and use it somewhere else, or throw it away.

Get more information about salt usage at

Rate this article: 
No votes yet
Comment Here