Spreading pavement salt lightly protects water quality and our fish!
You can help the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) protect the water environment at home. Using the right amount of salt makes a big difference for our waterway.
Preparing for snow at home
- Shovel first. Salt should only be used after the snow is removed and only in areas needed for safety.
- Size matters. More salt does not mean more melting. A 12-ounce coffee mug of salt should be enough for a 20-foot driveway or 10 sidewalk squares (250 square feet).
- Spread. Distribute salt evenly, not in clumps. Clumped salt is wasted salt!
- Sweep. If salt is leftover on the ground after the ice melts, then too much salt was used. Sweep up leftover salt to keep it out of local rivers and streams.
- Switch. Untreated salt stops working if the temperature is below 15 degrees. When temperatures drop that low, switch to sand for traction or choose a different deicer formulated for colder temperatures.
Salt is intended to break the bond between snow or ice and the pavement. Its purpose is not to melt the snow or ice. If salt is necessary, residential property owners and managers can purchase deicing products that are less harmful for the soil, plants, water, and pets. Calcium chloride and magnesium chloride are considered “greener” options, because these have lower freezing points than rock salt and require less application. Calcium magnesium acetate and potassium acetate can also be used, as these do not corrode cars and partially break down in soil. These options can be purchased at home improvement stores. Another option is to make a brine by mixing salt with water and cover sidewalks before snowfall. However, because there is no salt product on the market that is completely harm-free, the best option for residents is to save our fish and go easy on the salt!