Keep your steps and sidewalks clear of ice and snow ... and salt.
You can view and download this information in pdf form on this factsheet.
De-icing salt might help keep your sidewalk and steps clear of ice, but every bit of salt used eventually ends up in our water, either by seeping into the soil and groundwater, or via the storm drains that lead to our streams, rivers, and our beautiful Lake Superior. Prevent injury to yourself, others, and the environment this winter. Keep your walking areas clear of snow and ice. Do it safely, without salt and chemical products, to help keep our waterways healthy.
PUT YOUR WALKWAYS ON A LOW-SALT DIET
High levels of sodium and chloride from salt in water affect the well-being of all living things. There is little reason for homeowners to add to this burden by using salt as an ice remover.
Using salt in your yard is harmful to:
- Plants along walkways
- Concrete sidewalks and wooden decks
- Winter boots and pooch’s paws
- Floors and carpets when tracked inside.
Stay on top of the problem by keeping the snow swept and shoveled.
SNOW REMOVAL TIPS:
- Avoid using salt as a substitute for snow removal.
- Don’t wait until snow is trodden down and packed hard.
- For light snowfalls use a stiff broom; for heavier snowfalls use a snow shovel.
- HINT - For sticky snow a bit of cooking oil spray or ski wax will help the snow glide off the shovel.
- For hard–packed snow and icy patches use an ice scraper, a tool with a long handle like a broom and a sharp edge like a straightened garden hoe.
- Check your downspouts to make sure they do not drain onto walkways where ice will develop.
- Inevitably some icy patches may develop. Use a light sprinkling of SAND for traction.
- HINT - Heat some sand in the microwave or oven, then spread warm sand on ice. This will imbed itself in the ice slightly and provide better traction.
- Another point for the safety of your guests: garlands wrapped around your steps’ handrails may look decorative but handrails are for holding, for the security of anyone climbing your steps. Prickly garlands just get in the way.
- If you must use salt, use it sparingly. A little goes a long way.
WHAT ABOUT ALTERNATIVES TO SALT?
De-icing alternatives such as calcium chloride, calcium magnesium acetate, potassium acetate, magnesium acetate, and urea all have pros and cons. Most are more expensive than salt (sodium chloride) and will still end up polluting our waterways to some extent. Avoid kitty litter and ashes. Although environmentally friendly, they are not very effective and make a gooey mess. Stick with SAND.
- Good advice from Green Venture in Hamilton
- Smart About Salt, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to protecting water through programs that improve salt management
- The latest winter maintenance technologies used by Ontario's Ministry of Transportation
- Environmental management of road salts by Environment Canada.
Clean your steps regularly ... every time it snows.
Page last updated on Thursday, January 12, 2012