• Shelby Roberts

3 Ways to use less Salt this Winter

Snow is a fact of life in Minnesota, and so is using rock salt to melt all the snow and ice. But did you know that road salt and deicers are an environmental pollutant?

Salt and water combine very easily, which is good news for melting sidewalks ice, but that strong chemical bond makes the chloride from salt molecules nearly impossible to remove from water. So, when chloride dissolves into lakes and rivers, it is considered a permanent pollutant. Every winter, when salt melts downstream, chloride concentrations in our waterbodies increase. And studies from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) are showing that elevated chloride levels in surface water is toxic to fish. Salty water runoff from road salt can disrupt entire freshwater ecosystems.

As of 2021, local waterbodies including Sand Creek, Raven Stream, and Credit River are all listed on the MPCA’s impaired waters list for chlorides.

Just one teaspoon of salt is enough to permanently pollute five gallons of water, so by reducing salt use by just one cup, you are saving nearly 250 gallons of water from being polluted.

Things to know before it snows:

Shovel before Sprinkling. Shoveling, plowing, or blowing snow is the best way to prevent Chloride pollution from salt. Shovel as soon as possible after a storm.

Conserve and Reuse. Reuse salt by spreading/shaking granules approximately 3 in apart. If salt is left over in the area of application and the area is dry, sweep it up and use again for the next snowfall.

Temperature is KEY. Pure rock salt can only melt ice if the pavement is above 15 degrees Fahrenheit. In colder weather, use different types of de-icers if necessary.

By making a couple of adjustment to winter routines, the impacts that can be made both positively and safely to improve water quality are immense. To learn more about smart salting techniques on both large and small scales, visit the Scott Soil and Water Conservation District’s (SWCD) website and search “chlorides”, or call the office at 952-492-5425.

Pick up your own FREE Salt Reduction kit!

The Scott SWCD and Scott Watershed Management Organization (SWMO) have partnered with funds from the Clean Water Land and Legacy Amendment to put together FREE winter smart salting kits for homeowners. The kits contain informational material to help you minimize your salt use while maximizing its effectiveness this season. Kits can be picked up at the Scott County Government Center, the Scott SWCD office, the Spring Lake Town Hall, the City of Savage Government Center, and the Prior Lake Spring Lake Watershed District office.


The Scott SWCD and the Scott Watershed Management Organization (WMO) are partnering together to host a mini Homeowner Winter Management webinar on the topic of chloride pollution.

The event will be held via zoom on December 15th, from 6:00 - 6:45 PM. To register, call the Scott SWCD Education Specialist, Shelby Roberts at 952-492-5448 or go online to scottswcd.org and click on “News & Events”. Pre-registration is required for webinar attendance.