Salt is a useful tool to maintain roadways in the winter and keep our tap water soft year-round but it is important to use the right amount of salt to get the job done.
You can keep sidewalks and driveways safe this winter while protecting our waters by following these simple steps:
Clear walkways and other areas before the snow turns to ice. The more snow you remove manually, the less salt you will have to use and the more effective it will be.
If you use salt, scatter it so that there is space between the grains. Believe it or not, a coffee mug of salt is enough to treat an entire 20-foot driveway or 10 sidewalk squares. If you see oversalting, follow these simple steps.
When pavement temperatures drop below 15 degrees, salt won’t work. Switch to sand for traction or a different ice melter (PDF) that works at lower temperatures.
4. Select a Certified Contractor
5. Love the Lines
Stripes on roads before a storm are anti-icing. They show that your professional maintenance crew is concerned about safety and is saving money, time and protecting our environment!
6. Be Salt Wise All Year
Water softener salt ends up in local freshwater bodies. If your household softener uses more than 1 bag of salt per month, have a professional tune it up or replace it with a high-efficiency model.
Tips for Motorists
The goal of winter procedures is to maintain "passable roadways," or roadways that are free of drifts, snow ridges and as much ice and snow as possible. But expectations for perfect driving conditions have caused us to use excess deicing materials every year. Rather than depending on summer driving conditions in a Wisconsin winter, accept that our weather involves ice and snow. If possible, stay off the roads when it’s snowing. If you must go out remember that snow and ice should be treated as an emergency, so travel accordingly. Read this Motorist Handout for helpful tips!
In order to reduce oversalting, the City of Madison has created a voluntary Winter Salt Certification Program, open to all public and private winter maintenance professionals in Dane County. This program trains applicators on best practices and new methods for fighting snow and ice while keeping parking lots, roads, sidewalks and driveways safe. The program also helps local residents know which applicators are committed to both environmental and public safety. Learn more about this program.
If you are interested in purchasing brine from Dane County you can contact Tim Pelton, Assistant Maintenance Superintendent for Dane County Highway Department at (608) 266-4011. Please note that the county can only sell to municipal/public entities, not to the private sector. The current price is $0.33 per gallon.
There are a number of tools and resources that can help you use for using the least amount of salt to get the job done. Click on a tool below for more information:
- Locally tailored application rate guidelines and calculator: to calculate the correct amount of salt needed for the job.
- Winter Parking Lot and Sidewalk Maintenance Manual (PDF): practical advice for those managing parking lots and sidewalks.
- Winter Roadway Maintenance Manual (PDF): focus on tools, best practices, and limitations for snow and ice control, such as anti-icing, prewetting, and pretreating. Research projects and reports are cited to support recommended practices.
- Case studies: Many winter maintenance professionals are taking action to reduce their salt use while maintaining public safety.
- Handout for Winter Maintenance Professionals