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  • 24 Dec 2021 10:25 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    Winter road salting has year-round consequences (

    Every fall, Canadians patiently wait for the turning of the trees and the crunch of leaves. In winter, we hear a different sort of crunch — the crunch of road salts.

    Road salts are used to remove ice from surfaces like roads, sidewalks and parking lots. When people talk about road salts, they are often concerned with what salt may be doing to their vehicles, dog’s paws or winter boots.

    There are also some environmental concerns, as road salt ultimately makes its way into our soils, local lakes and rivers. Salty water flows into our soils and local water bodies through surface runoff and stormwater pipes, and eventually makes its way into groundwater. This furthers the long-term storage of salt in the environment and further impacts freshwater aquatic life, government infrastructure and drinking water.

    These concerns are usually voiced during the winter, when we actively see salt trucks and piles of salt on our drives or walks to work and school. While some of our worries disappear as the warm spring weather comes, my research shows the effects of extensive road salting on the environment last year round.

    My research with Donald Jackson at the University of Toronto showed elevated chloride concentrations — which are highly correlated with road salt — can now be found throughout the year in freshwater systems in the Greater Toronto Area. The impacts of road salt are not commonly studied in the summertime. However, understanding how it may be impacting the environment in the salt “low season” is important for understanding the gravity of the situation.

    Our study found that during the summertime, which is also the low season for chloride, chloride concentrations exceeded established Canadian federal guidelines for protection of aquatic life.

    At some of the sites monitored, we found that over 50 per cent of the aquatic biological communities can be considered to be stressed by chloride based on these guidelines, which were based on toxicity tests to aquatic organisms.

    This means that summertime is now a time of likely chloride stress, higher water temperatures and early life stages of aquatic organisms (like eggs and larvae) which may be more sensitive to stress. These factors combined put aquatic species at elevated risk.

    Why should we be concerned?

    Road salt poses a risk for freshwater aquatic species, which rely on low salt levels. Freshwater species have specific biological adaptations to low salt levels, unlike their ocean counterparts which have different types of adaptations.

    Studies show that increased chloride concentrations, associated with salt, can lead to disruptions in food webs, as sensitive species are stressed at high concentrations. For an aquatic organism, salt stress can lead to the diversion of energy to maintain basic functioning, which means less energy is directed to growth and reproduction.

    High salt concentrations have been found to lead to decreases in egg mass for aquatic organisms, and decreases in growth rate. This essentially means sensitive species may eventually be “filtered out” of food webs, leading to declines in biodiversity.

    Road salting leads to high concentrations of chloride and sodium in local waters. Increased chloride in drinking water supplies can lead to more rapid corrosion of drinking water infrastructure, such as private and municipal wells and pipes. This decreases the safety of drinking water. Increasing sodium concentrations is also concerning for those with hypertension.

    To top it off, salting can lead to faster rates of corrosion of bridges and roads, putting road infrastructure at risk as well.

    Lacking: efforts to reduce road salting

    De-icing salts were first used in the 1940s in North America, and as its use exponentially increased with urbanization and road expansion, sodium chloride became the most popular. With increased understanding of risks to the environment and human health over time, efforts to reduce road salt use include using alternatives such as beet juice.

    However, these alternatives can be expensive and can come with their own pitfalls, like introduction of more nutrients into aquatic systems. Understanding how much salt needs to be applied, and when, is a crucial part of salt and ice management. Additionally, shifts in perspective of ice safety can be made. In some regions for example, snow tires are required for vehicles while people use chains, boot spikes and other personal traction devices.

    At a recent salt summit, held by the Lake George Association in New York, a speaker adequately described our current relationship with salt as “oversalting comes from a place of love, concern and want of safety,” because icy conditions are considered unsafe.

    However, short-term prospects of ice safety blind us to the love, concern and want of long-term safety of our drinking water supplies and environmental integrity.

    Mitigating our winter road salt addiction

    We need to first recognize the year-round impacts our winter choices can have, and then take action to reduce the impacts. We can share the impacts of road salt and the individual actions we can take, such as understanding how much salt needs to be put down on our private properties, adjusting our expectations of winter roads and using snow tires and boot spikes to provide an added layer of safety.

    At a larger scale, mandatory certifications for salt application can provide training for snow removal companies, and have substantial incentives if designed properly. For example, the New Hampshire Green SnowPro Certification provides limited liability relief for snow removal contractors if they are certified.

    This ensures snow management companies are protected and their training programs are recognized as safe. Other organizations, like the Smart About Salt Council, provide the opportunity for certifications, training and general knowledge on salting.

    Unifying the snow removal industry and scientific researchers is necessary to understand the full impact of salts, as understanding where salt is applied and how much is used is an important component of environmental modelling. This unification can be casual, such as through interviews.

    It can also be more formal such as through joint research or educational initiatives, like the Partners in Project Green resource development for industry to understand road salt impacts and resources for more information.

    Road salt pollution is an issue which can be acted on immediately, rather than relying on technological advancements, as action can be taken at the individual, the federal and all levels in between. This action should be taken swiftly to ensure a less salty future for our freshwater streams, lakes and drinking water.

    So this winter season, when you hear the crunch of your boots on road salt, know that, although the salts we use now may not be visible after winter, the effect they have on the environment and our drinking water is year round.

  • 24 Dec 2021 10:23 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    Road Salt in Cities Shows Links to Saltier Water | International Joint Commission (

    Separate studies in Ontario and Ohio suggest that increasing urbanization over the past 40 years has been a driving factor in freshwater rivers getting saltier.

    Over the decades, southern Ontario and Ohio’s Cuyahoga River watershed urbanized rapidly as cities grew across the landscape. More concrete roads, sidewalks and other infrastructure were treated in the winter months with road salt to prevent ice from forming.

    Road salt typically consists of magnesium chloride, potassium chloride or sodium chloride. Over time, salt-laden water runs off either into the sewer system or directly to streams and rivers. Additionally, calcium chloride also is used to suppress dust on roads, while aluminum chloride is used to treat impurities from wastewater.

    While it is unlikely that salt concentrations in the Great Lakes would render the water undrinkable for people, too much chloride (a catch-all category for these salts) can affect the taste.

    And,  high enough concentrations of chloride in streams and lakes, can affect native species such as lake trout or lake whitefish, which have limited abilities to survive in saltier, brackish water. Saltier water also can make it easier for nonnative species, such as red marine algae or the round goby, to establish themselves and spread.

    Since 1974, the US Geological Survey has been working with Ohio’s Heidelberg University to sample tributaries entering Lake Erie or the Ohio River.

    Douglas Kane, a Heidelberg researcher, went through decades of data for the Cuyahoga, Maumee and Sandusky rivers to see what the long-term trends are regarding chloride in the water.

    The Cuyahoga River stood out, Kane said, with increasing chloride concentrations over time.

    “In the beginning of the record, the (amount of chloride in the) Cuyahoga was on average 100 milligrams per liter (mg/l) in the winter,” Kane said. “But now it’s around the 200 mg/l range, so it’s at least twice what it was, and compared to the other rivers—it’s much greater.”

    Canada and the United States have water quality criteria for chloride to protect aquatic life.

    Under US guidelines, 230 mg/l is the chronic exposure limit for freshwater species, with 860 mg/l for the short-term exposure limit. Canadian guidelines are stricter, with 120 mg/l for chronic exposure and 640 mg/l for the short term. These guidelines are considered too high by Canadian officials to adequately protect the wavy-rayed lampmussel, a species native to Lake Erie and its tributaries.

    Kane said the Maumee and Sandusky rivers maintained a steady amount of chloride in the water over the monitoring period–about 40 mg/l. Both of these are largely rural streams, whereas the Cuyahoga River flows through the developed areas of Akron and Cleveland.

    Kane said this gives a pretty good indication that increasing chloride amounts are linked to urban and suburban development along the Cuyahoga basin over the past 40 years. This was not an isolated issue, he added, as Environment and Climate Change Canada’s monitoring stations on the Niagara River at the eastern end of Lake Erie also found chloride concentrations increasing over this same time period.

    Similar signals have appeared on the northern shore of Lake Erie in southern Ontario. A study published in Environmental Research Letters in August 2021 looked at datasets going back to 1964 collected by the Ontario Provincial Water Quality Monitoring Network. Researchers primarily sampled most of the waterways  in the summer, though they focused the project on those that also had ample winter samples—about 10 streams and rivers with data from 1965-1995 and 15 from 2002-2018. Only two sites, Moira River and Jackson Creek, appeared in both sample groups.

    Similar to Ohio, this study found chloride concentrations increasing in urban regions of the province year-round, said project leader Bhaswati Mazumder, a doctoral student at Ryerson University. But rural streams and rivers also consistently had levels of chloride that held steady or increased seasonally, with higher rates of change in winter.

    Some watersheds maintain elevated chloride concentrations into the summer, when no road salt is being applied, and in few cases the summer concentrations are increasing, Mazumder said. The study tried to parse how much of these upward trends are due to urban growth, changes in road salt application rates, and/or legacy chloride contamination stored in the regions’ rich soils and groundwater. Urban growth did not explain all of the upward trends, which suggests that changes in management and/or legacy chloride are a big part of the problem.

    Information from the Provincial Water Quality Monitoring Network was used for Mazumder’s study. Credit: Bhaswati Mazumder

    “It seems like what we’re putting in is not going anywhere,” Mazumder said. “It’s just delayed transport in the subsurface, and then (the chloride is) slowly making its way to streams later on.”

    Mazumder said future water quality models need to take long-term changes in streamflow into account given how dramatically flows can change based on the season and weather—particularly with climate change affecting precipitation patterns in Ontario and elsewhere. Part of an update would likely involve developing models specific to a stream and its flow pathways. Mazumder also noted the need for more accessible long-term flow data and water quality monitoring in Canada.

    In Ohio, Kane plans on compiling Ohio Environmental Protection Agency data from additional waterways. This includes creeks and streams that feed into the major rivers he looked at to help pinpoint hot spots where chloride is coming in. Kane also hopes to obtain information for other waterways with high chloride levels, such as Wolf Creek, which runs through Toledo, and Coldwater Creek, an agricultural stream. Kane and his collaborators, Drs. Laura Johnson and Nate Manning from the National Center for Water Quality Research, are submitting their work to the Journal of Great Lakes Research.

  • 23 Dec 2021 10:05 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    It saves lives, but how does road salt impact the environment? (

    As winter gets into full swing, salt will be used across the country to make roads safe for drivers. How does it impact the environment?

  • 21 Dec 2021 11:10 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    Warren County DPW superintendent name to Adirondack Road Salt Reduction Task Force | |

    Warren County Public Works Superintendent Kevin Hajos has been selected to serve on the Adirondack Road Salt Reduction Task Force, an organization tasked to help find ways to reduce the use of road salt on highways.

    Hajos has led a team at the Department of Public Works that has begun a program to use salt brine on roads in the winter to minimize the impact of snow and ice, and to help supply towns in the county with salt brine. Brine is considered more environmentally friendly and less expensive than salt,

    He was nominated for the task force by state Sen. Dan Stec, R-Queensbury.

    “I am honored to have been chosen to sit on this task force as we work to ensure protection of the lakes and waterways that are such an important part of our lives and economy here in Warren County and the rest of the Adirondacks,” Hajos said in a Warren County news release.

    The 15-member task force has been asked to create a three-year pilot plan for road salt reduction practices. A final report on that study will be due to state legislators in the summer of 2024.

    The task force will be chaired by the state Department of Environmental Conservation and state Department of Transportation.

    “We are very proud of the work Mr. Hajos has done implementing new solutions to reduce the levels of salt that run off into Lake George and our other water bodies,” Warren County Administrator Ryan Moore said. “His knowledge and experience will be of great value to this important task force.”

    Warren County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Rachel Seeber said Hajos has been “a leader in the region’s efforts to curb the use of road salt on our highways while continuing to keep our roads safe during winter weather,” and she thanked Gov. Kathy Hochul for recognizing Hajos’ expertise.

    “We are eager to see what steps this task force will recommend to further protect our environment from the impacts of road salt,” she said in the release.

    A news release from the Governor’s Office identified 10 of the task force members, who, in addition to Hajos, include former state Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens; Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board Executive Director Gerald Delaney; Adirondack Council Vice President for Conservation Megan Phillips; ADKAction Executive Director Brittany Christenson; Kristine Stepeneck, a member of the International Joint Commission — the U.S. and Canada’s watershed quality organization; Philip Sexton, the founder and managing director of WIT Companies, a sustainable winter management company; Robert Kafin, who chairs the Council on the Environment of New York City; and Hamilton County Superintendent of Highways Tracy Eldridge.

  • 20 Dec 2021 9:55 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    Ontario snow removal companies forced to hike prices or shut down amid 6-figure insurance rates | CBC News

    Ontario snow clearing businesses continue to face soaring, six-figure insurance rates that's driving many to shutdown or hike prices to stay open.

    Christopher Thacker, owner of Mr. Mow It All, a Toronto business that pivots each year from lawn care to shovelling driveways for about 500 customers, has seen his insurance premium increase from $5,000 in 2016 to $70,000 last year and $110,000 this year.

    "It's passing the costs along to customers and that's the troublesome part," Thacker said. "Now this year, we're dealing with inflation and stuff, but even in the last couple of years, we've had to just keep increasing rates."

    nsurance rates for snow removal companies have dramatically increased in recent years as more people have filed more slip-and-fall lawsuits against them, said Marsh Insurance broker David Amadori. Damages can range from as low as $500 to more than $100,000 depending on the injury.

    And it's the businesses' insurers who are taking on the cost to defend them, even if the cases are thrown out.

    "Over the last two decades, these insurers have been operating at a loss," Amadori said. 

    Some insurers have stopped providing coverage altogether while others have increased premiums to maintain a viable business case, he said. Meanwhile, people filing lawsuits can now often do so at no personal cost or risk, as personal injury lawyers, who heavily advertise their services, agree to only be paid if they win a settlement.

    The province passed new legislation in January meant to cut back personal injury lawsuits, giving people only 60 days to file a claim instead of two years. But it will still be at least another year before insurance companies determine if Bill 118 has worked and adjust premiums, Amadori said. 

    Tony DiGiovanni, executive director of the Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association that represents 700 snowplow operators, said insurance rates now commonly over $100,000 are damaging the snow clearing industry.

    DiGiovanni says he gets calls every week from members leaving the business.

    "Some were in tears because they couldn't get insurance period even though they had no claims," he said.

    As for Thacker, he's noticed his competition's steadily declined from 20 companies to about four or five because of the cost of insurance.

    "It's pushed a lot of the smaller competitors out of the way," Thacker said. 

    And even though Mr. Mow It All is diligent about documenting its services and weather conditions at each site, and has a "fairly good claim history," it is still anticipating even higher insurance rates in the new year, he said.

  • 20 Dec 2021 8:16 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    Gov. Hochul fills road salt task force seats | News, Sports, Jobs - Adirondack Daily Enterprise

    Gov. Kathy Hochul appointed members to the Adirondack Road Salt Task Force on Thursday, more than two weeks after the committee’s deadline to present its recommendations for salt-spreading alternatives during winter months.

    The 14-member task force was created under the Randy Preston Road Salt Reduction Act which former Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law last December, but the task force did not have any members appointed to it until last week.

    Now that the task force is staffed, it will review the causes and potential solutions to reducing and mitigating the harm of road salt currently corrupting wells and natural waters around the Adirondacks.

    “It’s definitely better late than never,” said Dan Kelting, executive director of the Adirondack Watershed Institute at Paul Smith’s College, who was one of Hochul’s appointments to the task forced announced Thursday.

    But he said the delay means another year of opportunity to work on the issue has been lost.

    “We add another year of high salt … that’s just one more year added to the total,” he said.

    The task force will need a new deadline for its report, he said. With the amount of work ahead of them, he estimates it will be several months before that report is finished.

    Kelting said he was “excited and honored” to be appointed to the task force and said it feels good to see the science he and his colleagues have been working on make an impact on state practices.

    “It’s really a culmination of over a decade of work that we’ve done on this subject,” Kelting said.

    There is no one solution, Kelting said, but, “we’ve got to do something different.”

    The Adirondacks need safe roads, he said, but its also needs safe drinking water and clean natural waters.

    What’s the harm of road salt?

    Road salt is a seasonal pollutant. It’s used to make roads safe in the winter, creating friction on the icy paths. But it doesn’t stay on the roads. It runs off into waterways and wells, where its sodium content can have corrupting effects — altering aquatic life, making well water undrinkable, rusting out houses’ plumbing and appliances and rusting vehicles.

    High-sodium water is also a hazard for people with high blood pressure.

    It is costly for people with contaminated wells to buy bottled water or drill a new well.

    Kelting estimates that since the state started salting roads in 1980, over 7 million tons of salt has been spread on Adirondack roadways. That’s enough to fill train cars stretching from where he went to graduate school in Blacksburg, Virginia to Paul Smith’s College — over 750 miles.

    “That’s a big train,” Kelting said. “That’s an astronomical amount of material.”

    A 2019 study by the Adirondack Watershed Institute found that of 500 Adirondacks wells tested, 64% of those downhill from state roads were found to have sodium levels exceeding the federally recommended health limit.

    Wells near local government roads, where less salt is used, showed less contamination, and wells far away from salted roads showed none.

    “Road salt has caused irrevocable damage to our environment and waterways, contaminating drinking water supply for homeowners for far too long,” Assemblyman Billy Jones, D-Chateaugay, said in a statement. “Contaminated drinking water due to road salt has been an issue for homeowners across the North Country and Adirondack region for far too long and this task force will finally be able to address this issue.”

    Why the hold up?

    The bill has stalled several times in its path.

    The bill was sponsored by North Country state legislators, including retired state Sen. Betty Little, Jones, and state Sen. Dan Stec, R-Queensbury, who was an Assemblyman at the time. It found bipartisan support in the state Legislature.

    After the state Legislature passed the bill in July 2020, it sat for months on Cuomo’s desk until he finally signed it in December 2020, after requests from government leaders and green groups.

    No one had been appointed by the time Cuomo resigned in August amid a slew of sexual harassment and corruption allegations. Then, Gov. Kathy Hochul took his seat, but appointing members of this task force was not at the top of her priority list.

    Still, Kelting said Hochul appointed members to the task force pretty fast, and he’s glad she’s taking it seriously.

    The bill is named after the late Wilmington town Supervisor Randy Preston, a political independent who died after a battle with cancer in July 2019. Preston was known for years as a strong advocate for limiting excess road salt use. He was the co-chair of the Adirondack Road Salt Working Group.

    Michelle Preston, Randy’s widow, said he would be “so honored and so humbled” to see the group celebrating the bill he fought for. She said he never stopped working hard at it, even while battling a brain tumor.

    She said he loved the Adirondacks fiercely.

    “We traveled all around the world,” she said. “Everywhere that man would go, he would pull out his phone to show people, ‘This is where you need to go. This is the most beautiful place on earth.'”

    Salt solutions

    One of the solutions Kelting is interested in are lowering speed limits in certain areas during winter months. The higher the speed limit, the more salt is needed, he said. With a lower speed limit, he said departments can focus on sanding and plowing while still keeping roads safe.

    When he drove home from Paul Smith’s College on Sunday after a heavy weekend snowfall, Kelting said he was traveling at around 55 miles per hour.

    “Should I expect to be able to do that?” he asked.

    He proposed that with public education and less salt, people can know winter brings less clean roads and to keep wells and waterways clean, they’ll have to drive a bit slower.

    He also said with federal infrastructure money coming to the state, the task force will also look at new paving and plow blade technologies.

    The task force will also be looking at the results of ongoing road salt reduction pilot programs on state Route 86 in Lake Placid and state Route 9 in Lake George.

    Who’s on the task force?

    The 14-member task force is be made up of people from environmental groups, the state Department of Transportation, local government, health departments, highway department and scientists.

    A Thursday press release from the governor’s office identified 10 of the task force members, which include former state Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens; Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board Executive Director Gerald Delaney; Adirondack Council Vice President for Conservation Megan Phillips; ADKAction Executive Director Brittany Christenson; Kristine Stepeneck, a member of the International Joint Commission — the U.S. and Canada’s watershed quality organization; Philip Sexton, the founder and managing director of WIT Companies, a sustainable winter management company; Robert Kafin, who chairs the Council on the Environment of New York City; Warren County Public Works Superintendent Kevin Hajos and Hamilton County Superintendent of Highways Tracy Eldridge.

    The task force will be chaired by the DEC and DOT.

    “I have no doubt that this group of individuals will work tirelessly to protect our state from the adverse effects of road salt,” Hochul said in a statement. “We look forward to seeing this group finally convene and make progress in preventing further pollution to our waterways and our environment.”

    Kelting said he’s excited to work with this group. He’s worked with some members extensively before, and some will be new for him.

  • 17 Dec 2021 10:42 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    6 common snow removal mistakes homeowners make (

    Snow removal isn’t anyone’s idea of winter fun, but it’s a necessary part of living in the Great White North. 

    We’ve all experienced the hardships of letting heavy snowfall pile up on our driveways and walkways. Not only is it harder to shovel when you’re swimming in 10 inches of snow, the repercussions of not planning ahead for messy winter weather can be a real pain—literally.

    That said, with a little strategy and proper preparation — plus the right tools — you’ll be able to tackle winter weather this season without incident or accident. Here are six common mistakes homeowners make when it comes to winter snow removal, along with our tips for how to avoid them, so you can spend more time enjoying the winter weather this season and less time cleaning it up.

    1. Forgetting to prep your lawn ahead of time

    You’d be surprised how many homeowners don’t think about winterizing their lawn until after the first snow hits. Plan ahead in late fall or early winter however, and it’ll make your life that much easier come spring.

    Your first order of business? Cutting your grass to about an inch and a half and clearing out any debris, moss or weeds. The next step is to aerate your lawn using a tool like the Yardworks 4-Tine Cultivator. Then, before your lawn goes into its annual deep freeze, apply a winter-appropriate fertilizer like Scotts Turf Builder Fall Lawn Food, which is specially formulated for winter to give your lawn a jumpstart heading into spring.

    2. Using incorrect equipment

    Once the snow starts falling, be ready by having the right tools on hand. Depending on the size of your driveway and how much snow you get, you’ll need to assess whether a shovel is sufficient or if you’ll require a snowblower to properly tackle it.

    If a shovel is your tool of choice, opt for one that will make the job easier on your back. The Yardworks Sleigh Snow Shovel with Wear Strip is a great option for heavy snowfall. This sleigh-style shovel features a wide blade to remove large amounts of snow in a single push, while the ergonomic handle encourages proper posture.

    If you plan on buying a new snowblower this season, make sure to do your research first to determine the best fit for your needs and space. The Troy-Bilt 243cc 2-Stage Gas Snowblower is a tried-and-true best-seller thanks to a winterized engine that runs cleaner (and quieter) than other gas snowblowers. It also features heated grips for added comfort during those extra-cold days. The Yardworks 15A Electric Snowblower is another good option for those with medium to large-sized driveways, plus it comes with dual LED headlights to help light the way in low visibility conditions.

    3. Using improper form when shovelling

    Much like exercising, you can seriously hurt yourself if you don’t use proper form when you shovel. The most important tip to keep in mind is to bend your knees as you shovel and lift with your legs rather than your back. Then hold the handle close to the blade and your body to reduce strain on your lower back. Opting for a lightweight shovel designed with ergonomics in mind, like this Yardworks Ergonomic Snow Shovel, is always a wise idea as well.

    Most importantly, don’t overwork yourself and remember to take breaks to warm up. Your body will thank you for it.

    4. Neglecting rooftops and gutters

    Excessive heavy snow can be incredibly stressful on your roof. It’s also an easy area to forget about when removing snow from your property. The most common cause of damage? Ice dams which can cause leaks and further harm to your gutters and shingles. In severe cases, your roof can even collapse.

    While it’s never advisable to climb onto your roof, especially when there’s ice and snow afoot, you can do a fair bit with your feet firmly planted on the ground. A roof rake like this Yardworks 16-ft Telescopic Roof Rake allows you to clear snow from your roof without putting yourself at risk of falling. For anything more involved though, call in a professional.

    5. Not thinking strategically

    As you clear your driveway, you may be unintentionally creating a hazard for your neighbours or passersby, so always remember to be mindful of where you’re shovelling snow. Another no-no is shovelling your driveway from top to bottom, since the weight of that much snow can make it difficult to maneuver. To help minimize the amount of effort required, start at the centre and push smaller amounts of snow to either side of your driveway instead.

    Finally, never let piles of snow accumulate and turn into ice. The longer you wait, the harder that dense packed snow will be to remove. Instead, make sure to shovel every few hours during heavy snowfall in order to make the job more manageable—not to mention less stressful on your back and equipment.

    6. Overdoing it with ice melt

    If you want to stay on top of snow removal, keep an eye on the weather and apply ice melt before any snow has hit the ground. This preventative measure is your secret weapon to keeping black ice at bay.

    That said, when deciding to use ice melt or salt, keep your plants and pets in mind. Salt can be damaging to your trees and other landscaping and can even harm wildlife if you’re not careful. That’s why it’s advisable to consider green options when possible. We recommend Alaskan Premium Ice Melt Jug, a high visibility ice melt that’s gentle on grass and concrete. Another good option is Yardworks Envirosafe Ice Melter, a fast-acting de-icer that’s less harmful to vegetation and pets. Just always remember to follow package instructions, as over-application can also cause problems.

  • 16 Dec 2021 8:04 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    Gherkin water instead of road salt to defrost roads (

    Here's an interesting story form Dingolfing, Germany, where pickles are made and used to clean the roads. Or at least, the water from the gherkin facility. 

    Approximately 17,000 tons of cucumbers are processed annually at the Develey plant, and after the produce is stored in saltwater, the latter is left behind. Previously, the saltwater was disposed of through the wastewater treatment plant, but for the second year in a row, the community is now using the brine to make the roads passable again.

    The brine works as well as road salt, while still being sustainable. Using cucumber water can save about 1000 tons of road salt and more than 4.9 million liters of water annually. "There is no difference to conventional brine. But it is more sustainable: using cucumber water can save about 1,000 tons of road salt and more than 4.9 million liters of water each year. Recycling at its finest and a win-win situation for everyone - especially for the environment, as less salt is released into the environment overall," the team with Develey says. 

    It does make you wonder, how exactly does cucumber water become road salt? After processing the cucumbers, a brine remains, which is filtered to remove any suspended particles and then it is processed. In order to achieve an optimal thawing effect, the salt content of the cucumber water must be increased from approximately 7% to 21% by adding some salt.

    After the cucumbers are processed, a brine remains. This is filtered to remove suspended particles and then processed. In order to achieve an optimal thawing effect, the salt content of the cucumber water must be concentrated by adding salt from about 7% to 21%. "This is the only hurdle that had to be overcome for the salt brine to be ready for use," the Develey team adds. "Now nothing stands in the way of using cucumber water as road salt for winter road maintenance." 

    "Admittedly, cucumber water is certainly not the solution to all environmental problems, but it is a step in the right direction and makes winter road maintenance more sustainable." 

  • 10 Dec 2021 9:56 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    Research reveals critical need to reduce use of road salt in winter, suggests best practices | Mirage News

    Across the U.S. road crews dump around 25 million metric tons of sodium chloride — much like table salt — to unfreeze roads each year and make them safe for travel.

    Usage varies by state, but the amount of salt applied to icy roads annually in some regions can vary between approximately 3 and 18 pounds of salt per square meter, which is only about the size of a small kitchen table.

    As the use of deicing salts has tripled over the past 45 years, salt concentrations are increasing dramatically in streams, rivers, lakes and other sources of freshwater.

    Overuse of road salts to melt away snow and ice is threatening human health and the environment as they wash into drinking water sources, and new research from The University of Toledo spotlights the urgent need for policy makers and environmental managers to adopt a variety of solutions.

    The study titled “Road Salts, Human Safety and the Rising Salinity of Our Fresh Waters” is published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment and presents how road salts hurt ecology, contaminate drinking water supplies and mobilize harmful chemicals, such as radon, mercury and lead, and then lays out suggested best management practices.

    “The magnitude of the road salt contamination issue is substantial and requires immediate attention,” said Dr. Bill Hintz, assistant professor of ecology at UToledo and lead author of the research based out of the UToledo Lake Erie Center. “Given that road deicers reduce car accidents by more than 78%, we worked to strike a careful balance between human safety and mitigating the negative environmental and health impacts triggered by dumping salt on our streets and highways to keep people safe and traffic moving.”

    In one major example, the researchers say overuse of road salts likely contributed to higher levels of corrosive chloride in the water supply in Flint, Mich., in 2014, leading to the release of lead from water distribution pipes.

    Another example shows that high concentrations of deicing salt typically occur in private wells located near roads in lower elevations or downhill from highways.

    The most common deicers are the inorganic salts sodium chloride, calcium chloride and magnesium chloride, all used both in solid and liquid or brine form.

    The study examines how current federal safety limits for salt concentrations established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1988 to protect fish, plants and other aquatic life in freshwater ecosystems are commonly surpassed.

    Particularly alarming is the number of salinized streams. The research highlights recent studies that show urban streams with salt concentrations that are more than 20 to 30 times higher than the EPA chronic chloride threshold of 230 milligrams per liter.

    “Current EPA thresholds are clearly not enough,” Hintz said. “The impacts of deicing salts can be sublethal or lethal at current thresholds and recent research suggests that negative effects can occur at levels far below these thresholds.”

    The research suggests several solutions, including:

    • Proper storage facilities — covered structures with a concrete base;
    • Anti-icing, the application of liquids such as salt brines to road surfaces prior to winter storm events, which prevents ice from bonding to surfaces and aids removal operations;
    • Live-edge snowplows composed of multiple smaller plows on springs, which better conform to road surfaces compared to conventional plows with a single fixed edge, to increase the efficiency of snow and ice removal and reduce the need for deicing salt; and
    • Post-storm performance assessments to determine whether the treatment used was appropriate for the weather system and if it should be modified in the future.

    “Given the lack of ecologically friendly and cost-effective alternatives, broad-scale adoption of best management practices is necessary to curb the increasing salinization of freshwater ecosystems resulting from the use of deicing salts,” Hintz said.

    Hintz collaborated with scientists from Montana State University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on the study.

    This material from the originating organization/author(s) may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s).View in full here.

  • 27 Nov 2021 9:23 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    City of Delta preparing for snow, ice - Delta Optimist (

    There’s going to be plenty of road salt available should Delta get hit with heavy snowfall this winter.

    That’s according to an engineering department report to council on this year’s snow and ice control/flood preparedness, which notes the works yard in Ladner is fully stocked with 1,000 metric tonnes of salt. 

    The North Delta works yard is also stocked to full capacity with 1,500 metric tonnes of salt.

    The report notes that the finance department has also secured a contract with Mainroad Contracting that guarantees up to an additional 3,000 metric tonnes of road salt for this season.

    “This should be sufficient, as historically, Delta has used up to 4,500 metric tonnes of road  salt during extreme winters,  but uses between 2,500 and  3,000 metric tonnes in an average winter,” the report notes.

    In addition to road salt, engineering operations continues to make its own salt brine. 

    Salt brine is used to pre-wet the priority routes in anticipation of snow or ice events. 

    The city has two specialized brine trucks that can be used to apply the salt solution, while all snow and ice equipment has been inspected and serviced for the upcoming season. 

    Operations staff, meanwhile, have been refreshed on snow and ice control procedures and have been trained on operating snow clearing equipment, the report adds. 

    Steps have also been taken to ensure staff coverage during the holiday season. 

    Staff have implemented a night shift truck driver seven days a week to reduce response time for snow and ice control from Dec. 1, 2021 to March 2022. 

    When not salting or brining, the night driver will provide routine inspections on major roads and overpasses while performing other duties.

    The "Winter Road Conditions" phone line (604-952-3820) will be available to provide a voice message, updated every four hours during a snow-fighting event, with the current weather situation and Delta’s response levels.

    Weather predictions for this coming season suggest this region may experience cool winter temperatures (La Nina) again, similar to what was experienced last season.

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