Salt & Storm Drain Conservation Tips for the Winter Months

Friday, Jan 22, 2021 at 4:41 pm


From our Friends at Franklin County Soil & Water

Snow, ice, and stormwater can create a difficult balancing act between cost, safety, and environmental impact. On one hand, without salt (sodium chloride), sidewalks and driveways can become dangerously slick when freezing weather hits. On the other, salt used on our roads, driveways and sidewalks can have a dangerous effect on our water quality.

Effects of Sodium Chloride

Salt has been used on roadways for snow and ice removal since the 1930’s and remains the most cost-effective de-icer. However, without proper use, it can easily be transported by melting water to groundwater or storm drains. Because rain and snowmelt are moved through storm drains straight to rivers and streams without treatment, chloride ions are often delivered to receiving streams in concentrations that can harm aquatic life. Not only does it affect water quality, it can burn your pets paws, corrode paved surfaces, ruin buildings and even cars, dehydrate plants, limit springtime growth, and after the snow melts you might find bare or brown grass patches in your yard.

Reminders for the Icy Months:
  • Salt before the ice: It’s always easier to prevent than de-ice. Salt applied before a storm that is likely to produce a layer of ice is easily more effective than salt applied after, on top of the ice. 
  • Use the minimum amount of deicer: It’s only supposed to break the bond to make shoveling easier. 
  • Check the temperature: If it’s really cold outside, and the ice is already set on the ground, your salt may not work, so applying more won’t help. Sodium chloride, the most common salt, will be less effective if the temperature is below 20°F. Most salts stop working completely at 15°F.
  • Less can be more: Use a hand-held spreader to help apply a consistent layer across the surface. A successful rate for rock salt is about a handful per square yard. Excessive use is wasteful, increases costs, and has a harmful impact on the environmental.
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