As the first snow of the season arrives,
Minnesotans start thinking about clearing snow and ice from pavement
— sometimes with salt. But when the snow melts or it rains, the
salt, which contains chloride, runs into storm drains and into
nearby lakes, rivers, and groundwater.
We scatter an estimated 365,000 tons of salt in
the metro area each year. But it only takes a teaspoon of salt to
permanently pollute five gallons of water. There’s no feasible way
to remove chloride once it gets into the water, and we are finding
increasing amounts of chloride in waters around the state. Salty
water harms freshwater fish and other aquatic wildlife.
Salt Scatter Patterns
environmentally safe, effective, and inexpensive alternatives to
salt are yet available, smart salting strategies can help reduce
chloride pollution in state waters. You might think more salt means
more melting and safer conditions, but it’s not true! Salt will
effectively remove snow and ice if it’s scattered so that the salt
grains are about three inches apart (see
for a visual reference. If you publish the graphic, credit the (Regional
Stormwater Protection Team).
A coffee mug full of salt (about 12 ounces) is all you need for a
20-foot driveway or 10 sidewalk squares (roughly 1,000 square feet).
Consider using a hand-held spreader to apply salt consistently and
use salt only in critical areas. Sweep up any extra that is visible
on dry pavement. It is no longer doing any work and will be washed
away into local waters.
Additional tips for limiting salt use:
Learn more on the MPCA's
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