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Going salt-free for winter ice and snow

When it comes to sidewalks and driveways, a little salt goes a long way. Why not try to go salt-free this winter, at least as much as possible? 

“The easiest thing to do is shovel snow before it gets packed down and eliminate the need for salt,” Water Resources Specialist Steve Gurney said.

If salt is needed to tackle ice or snow, use a light hand for application. It takes less than a 12-ounce coffee cup of salt to treat 1,000 square feet (about the size of a typical two-car driveway.) Keep in mind salt appears to melt away but doesn’t actually disappear. Also, salt’s effectiveness lessens as temperatures drop. Salt doesn’t melt ice if the pavement is below 15 degrees, so use sand for traction when it’s too cold. 

“A teaspoon of salt is all it takes to contaminate five gallons of water and the damage is cumulative,” Gurney said. “Chloride concentrations have been getting worse for our water bodies over time.”  

Once salt gets into water, only reverse osmosis or distilling can remove it. Neither method is cost-effective.