Winter Maintenance

Did you know that once salt is in the environment, it doesn’t go away? It degrades our infrastructure and ends up in our lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands, putting our aquatic life at risk and endangering our freshwater resources. It only takes one teaspoon of salt to permanently pollute five gallons of water to a level that is toxic for freshwater ecosystems.

Consider avoiding salt use entirely by clearing walkways and other areas with a shovel before snow turns to ice. A scraper can be helpful to tackle tougher areas with compacted snow or ice, and a broom can be used to remove a light dusting of snow. The more snow you remove manually, the less salt you will need to keep sidewalks and driveways safe.

If you use salt, remember a little goes a long way!  A coffee mug of salt is enough to treat an entire 20-foot driveway or 10 sidewalk squares. A handheld salt spreader like the one shown below can help you control the amount of salt you apply. Spread salt evenly, leaving space between the grains. 

WProper Salt Applicationhen pavement temperatures drop below 15 degrees, salt won’t work. Switch to sand for traction or a different ice melter that works at lower temperatures. After a snow melt, sweep up leftover salt for reuse – that way it won’t get buried in the next snowfall or washed away when it rains!

The key is to use the right tool for the job at the right time. We are all in this together; we can work together to protect our waterways and infrastructure. Try making just one change to your winter snow removal routine this year to lessen your salt use, protect our waters and keep sidewalks and driveways safe!

If you hire a contractor, ask if they have gone through a Winter Salt Certification class. If not, encourage them to become certified. Visit for more information.

Hand Spreader
A hand spreader can be used to get good spacing between grains of salt. 
Most home owners have a shovel in their garage. Take your winter maintenance techniques to the next level by bringing more tools to your winter maintenance lineup. Scrapers can tackle ice and compacted snow, and brooms can be used on light dustings.