Salt (Chloride) Use

SW Tip 12.21In slippery Minnesota winters, safety is certainly the top concern, but over-salting sidewalks and parking lots doesn’t provide extra safety, it damages property and pollutes water.

Salt is toxic to Minnesota aquatic life. Just one little teaspoon of salt makes five gallons of water uninhabitable for most freshwater species. Fifty lakes and streams in Minnesota already have salt (chloride) levels above state standards. As snow and ice melt, water runs into storm drains that flow into lakes, streams, and wetlands, taking the salt with it. Once the salt is dissolved in water, there is no practical way to get the salt out of the water. Learn more.

  1. Prompt snow and ice removal are key. Clearing walkways before the snow turns to ice will reduce the need for salt. The more snow you clear, the less salt you’ll need.
  2. Select the right product for the right temperature. Sodium chloride doesn’t melt snow below 15 degrees Fahrenheit, so use sand for traction in colder weather. Also, consider using liquid deicer (three parts water to one part salt) to reduce salt use.
  3. Scatter the product you chose, applying sparingly. Salt granules should be about three inches apart and used only where it’s necessary. A 12-ounce coffee cup of salt is enough to cover 10 sidewalk squares or a 20-foot driveway.
  4. Sweep up excess salt and sand to reuse and prevent runoff. Excess salt is harmful to pets, plants, and wildlife. It pollutes our waterways and corrodes roads, buildings, and vehicles. Just one teaspoon of salt permanently pollutes five gallons of water.

Check out this salt application guide from the City of Minneapolis for more tips.

  • The MPCA offers free Smart Salting Training for property managers and winter maintenance service providers. A schedule of training sessions is available online.
  •  Visit the MPCA’s Chloride webpage to learn more about what you can do to help curb salt use at.
  • Watch the Low Salt, No Salt Minnesota on YouTube for informational videos about chloride pollution.