“Just Enough”

Applying Salt For Winter De-Icing 

 Just Enough

It’s not too early to begin thinking about the coming winter and how to deal with the icy, slippery conditions that can plague our roadways, parking lots and sidewalks. Keeping roads and parking areas free of ice and snow is an essential part of modern life. However, road salt – one of the main tools used to achieve this task – contains chloride as its principle ingredient. Chloride does more that melt snow and ice; it negatively impacts local lakes and rivers. Other ingredients of commercial road salt may include small amounts of arsenic and cyanide.

As snow and ice melt, they drain into landscaped areas or storm sewers, and then to natural bodies of water. Waters from a deiced area contain high levels of chlorides, which do not degrade, and there is no cost effective way to remove it. Excessive levels of chlorides can severely impair the ability of plants in gardens, landscaped areas, and rivers and streams. Fish and other aquatic organisms are then impacted by the decline in habitat. In additional to harming the ecosystem, overusing chloride can damage garden greenery such as turf and plants, reversing any beautification efforts you have made.

So what is being done to reduce the use of chloride for de-icing? Roads must remain clear to protect public safety so the use of chloride products will likely continue. However, many communities and snow management professionals are already employing alternative technologies to de-ice their roads and parking surfaces. Anti-icing, which is an application of salt brine to roads when winter precipitation is forecasted, is a very effective way to prevent the formation of ice, thus reducing the amount of product applied later. Chloride products are also being pre-treated with alternative coatings at the time of application or prior to storage. The benefits of these coatings include; greater effectiveness at lower temperatures, holding to surfaces longer and ultimately less product used per square foot.

Employing the “Just Enough” principle – applying just enough de-icing product to keep your property ice-free and safe – is the best solution. Gone are the days of spreading rock salt before, during and after every snow storm.

Make sure that you are following the “Just Enough” guidelines listed below or that you have hired a qualified snow management professional that employs these practices:

  • - Plow, clear, shovel or blow as much snow before you use a deicing product
  • - Apply “Just Enough” product to keep the high traffic areas clear of ice and hazards
  • - Block off or eliminate low traffic areas during snow events to decrease the amount of products needed
  • - Sweep or collect un-dissolved product after a storm is passed
  • - Consider switching to pre-treated deicing products
  • - Support changes in chloride application in your municipality
  • - Inform a neighbor about the impacts chlorides have on our landscapes and ecosystems


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