Cuyahoga SWCD encourages salt conservation

We rely on salt to keep our roads safe in the winter but using more salt than needed comes with a heavy price. Salt reduces accidents on two-lane roads by 87% and multi-lane highways by 78%, however the widespread use of salt has led to the steady salinization of surface water and groundwater, threatening freshwater resources and drinking water.

Elevated salt levels also threaten the economy, infrastructure, pets, plants and wildlife. We need salt, but we don’t need it at the amount it is being used.

According to the Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District, almost all the salt that is applied ends up in our waterways through storm drains. Though we may not be able to control how much salt is put on the roads, we can control our own salting behaviors on our driveways and sidewalks. Simple changes to the amount and ways that we salt can greatly improve the health of our watershed without jeopardizing our safety.

This winter, use the right S.A.L.T. to not only save time, but money.

STUFF – Salt (sodium chloride) only works above 15 degrees Fahrenheit. For colder temperatures use a small amount of sand for added traction, or switch to an ice-melting product designed to work at colder temperatures. No matter what you use, be sure to wash off your pet’s paws after a walk.

AMOUNT – Spreading more salt does not improve deicing. One 12-ounce coffee cup full of salt is enough to cover about 10 sidewalk squares. There should be at least 3 inches between salt granules. Be sure to sweep up any excess salt.

LOCATION – Salt only belongs on your sidewalk and driveway and never on your lawn, flower beds, the base of a tree and definitely not in a stream. One teaspoon of salt permanently pollutes 5 gallons of water.

TIME – Salt works best when it is applied right before the snow falls or right after snow is removed from your driveway or sidewalk. Never apply salt when rain is in the forecast, as it will wash away into the storm drain and out to our waterways.

Residents can take the Use the Right S.A.L.T. pledge and receive a coffee cup with the message, “Just one heaping coffee mug of salt covers 250 square feet or 10 sidewalk squares” to keep in their salt bucket as a point of decision reminder when they go to spread salt

The negative impacts of sodium chloride in the community can be significantly reduced with increased awareness and proper application. For more information, visit and ∞