- First things first: The first line of defense should always be shoveling sidewalks and pathways to keep them clear and prevent ice from forming. Salt and deicers are not effective when more than 3 inches of snow have accumulated.
- Consider the temp: Salt and calcium magnesium acetate (CMA) are much more effective at melting snow and ice at temperatures above 25 degrees.
- Get a grip: Reduce salt and other chemicals by adding sand for traction.
- Work smarter: If you have to use them, focus your application of deicing products on high-traffic areas and slopes where traction is critical. By using the least amount necessary to get the job done, you save money and will minimize damage to paved surfaces, vehicles and plants.
- Have pets? You should look for pet-safe deicers that are less harmful to paws or consider using reduced amounts of traditional road salts. Wipe your friend's paws after a walk on salted areas, and keep these products out of reach of pets and children.
- Protect the source: Keep salt-laden snow piles at least 100 feet from creeks and floodplains, and never shovel snow over a storm drain inlet.
- Consider the Alternative: Many safer alternatives to road salt can be found at local hardware stores. Check the labels for products containing potassium chloride, calcium chloride, and magnesium chloride, corn processing byproducts, and calcium magnesium acetate (CMA). These alternatives can be spread in a dry form or sprayed as a liquid and work best when used with salt. Together, they work more efficiently so you can use less.
Remember: you can still effectively control ice and keep surfaces safe even with reduced usage of traditional road salt! Check out this post from Penn State to learn more about watershed-friendly deicing.