Winter Salt Management
Manage salt use during the winter to help reduce its impact on the environment
Salt impacts the environment
The salt placed on roads, sidewalks, parking lots and driveways to help make winter driving and walking conditions safer doesn’t disappear when the snow and ice melts. Salt mixes with water from melting snow or rain and makes its way into our rivers and lakes and over time, harms our environment, wildlife and quality of our drinking water.
Here are some tips to help manage salt use, stay safe and protect the environment:
- Before snow falls or temperatures drop to freezing, apply a small amount of salt across your driveway to help prevent ice and snow from sticking.
- Keep water from turning into ice by cleaning and repairing eaves troughs and clear storm drains and make sure downspouts are directed away from driveways and walkways.
- If you hire someone to clear your driveway or business look for contractors that are Smart About Salt certified. They’re trained to improve winter salting practices.
- Avoid ice build-up and reduce salt use by clearing snow from driveways and walkways as soon as possible.
- After a snowfall, salt should only be used once the snow is removed and only in areas needed for safety.
- Don’t pile your snow where it could melt across paved areas and re-freeze creating a slipping hazard.
- Only treat icy areas with salt and give it time to absorb before clearing it. Don’t use salt to melt snow.
- Salt only melts ice and snow at temperatures above -10C. When it’s too cold for salt to work, alternatives such as sand, grit, non-clumping kitty litter or magnesium chloride can be used.
- Gather any excess salt from paved surfaces and store for re-use next time. Salt has no expiration date. Removing excess salt also helps prevent damage to paved surfaces and the environment.
- Reduce the risk of slipping and falling by dressing for the weather and wearing boots with good treads. Consider adding ice grippers to shoes and boots for extra grip in icy weather.
- Cyclists should turn on bike lights when riding in poor weather and low light conditions.
- Drivers need to give cyclists extra space in snowy weather conditions.
- Install winter tires on your vehicles to give you better traction when driving in winter weather.
- Remember to plan ahead and give yourself more time to get to your destinations.
The following programs are available for those responsible for winter maintenance on private properties including commercial and industrial properties
- Smart About Salt Program (not-for-profit organization) which offers training to improve winter salting practices on facilities and recognizes industry leaders through certification
- Salt Application Verified Equipment (SAVE) Program provides contractors services to ensure that their salt spreading equipment is calibrated properly to avoid over-spreading.