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Manage salt use

Help reduce the impact of salt use on the environment

Salt impacts the environment

Salt is used on roads, sidewalks, parking lots, and driveways help make winter driving and walking conditions safer. However, the salt doesn’t disappear when the snow and ice melts. Salt mixes with water from melting snow or rain and makes its way to our rivers and lakes and over time. This 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:

  • 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.
  • Install winter tires to give you better traction when driving in winter.
  • Reduce your driving speed to give you more time to react to winter road conditions.
  • Keep distance and give right-of-way to winter maintenance vehicles.
  • Drivers need to give cyclists extra space in snowy weather conditions.
  • Plan and give yourself more time to get to your destinations.

Use less salt

  • Avoid ice build-up and reduce salt use by clearing snow from driveways and walkways as soon as possible.
  • Don’t pile your snow where it could melt across paved areas and re-freeze creating a slipping hazard.
  • Keep water from turning into ice by cleaning and repairing eaves troughs and clear storm drains.
  • Make sure downspouts are directed away from driveways and walkways.

If you hire someone to clear your driveway, look for contractors that are Smart About Salt. They’re trained to improve winter salting practices.

If applying salt, consider these tips:

  • 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.
  • After a snowfall, salt should only be used once the snow is removed and only in areas needed for safety.
  • 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. Although these products don’t melt ice, they can be used for traction to avoid slips/falls.

Businesses are responsible for the safety of others (employees and public) on their property, but when it comes to salt, more is never better. Over salting can:

  • Be a trip and fall hazard
  • Damage concrete
  • Damage plants and trees nearby
  • Damage floors and carpets indoors
  • Wear out shoes faster
  • Harm exterior of cars
  • Long term impacts to our drinking water quality

Actions to consider for your business:

  • Close areas that are not required (outdoor patios, multiple entrances, etc.)
  • Print a “Closed Area” sign
  • If snow cleaning/salting is contracted out, consider asking for contractors that are Smart About Salt. They’re trained to improve winter salting practices
  • Use products such as sand, grit, non-clumping kitty litter or magnesium chloride to provide traction when weather is below -10C. Salt doesn’t work in extreme cold temperatures.
  • Put up visuals inside the building to remind people of winter maintenance;

These programs are available for those responsible for winter maintenance on private properties including commercial and industrial properties:

  • Smart About Salt offers training to improve winter salting practices on facilities and recognizes industry leaders through certification.
  • Salt Application Verified Equipment (SAVE) provides contractors services to ensure that their salt spreading equipment is calibrated properly to avoid over-spreading.