November 19th | 77% Increase in Chloride in the Last 35 Years

The Soak It Up! Project

Chloride is permanent pollutant; it does not degrade over time and cannot be feasibly removed from surface waters. Scary.

Chloride is a permanent pollutant. PERMANENT!

Winter is almost here! Before you grab salt or decider with chloride for your sidewalks, driveway, or parking lot—STOP! Salt does not degrade over time. Deicers with chloride permanently impact our streams. Melting snow and ice run to storm drains, then to our waterways. Only one teaspoon of road salt will permanently pollute five gallons of water!

Deicing is important for safety, so good management is key. Our local governments are reducing chloride runoff by: storing salt where it won’t leach away, calibrating application equipment, providing training for private applicators, and piling snow where melt won’t go directly to surface waters. The County Highway Department provides municipalities sand that contains less than 4% salt to reduce chemical pollution in runoff. Some municipalities have recently started experimenting with liquid brine, to see how it compares to the traditional method of crystal salt.

What can you do at home? STOP USING SALT ON YOUR SIDEWALKS AND DRIVEWAY! And don’t underestimate the importance of shoveling. When snow is cleared away, ice melts and there’s often no need to use a deicer.

If you do have ice, use these eco-friendly salt alternatives for safety:

  • Organic, Salt-Free Deicer: It’s a little pricier than salt, but these products work without negative affects.
  • Urea: This natural de-icer won’t harm your pets, corrode metal or pit your concrete, but it can be bad news for plants, so avoid using it near the garden.
  • Alfalfa Meal: Typically used as a fertilizer, this super effective ice melting alternative is 100% natural and grainy enough to provide traction. Use in moderation. WHY????
  • Sugar Beet Juice: Juice from sugar beets lowers the melting point of ice and snow, which helps clear your driveway and, in some areas, municipal roads. It’s safe for animals, people, metals, concrete and plants and is one of the few options effective below negative 20 degrees Celsius.
  • Sand or Coffee Grounds: Sprinkle over icy surfaces to provide traction, and count on these darker colors to absorb heat and help melt snow and ice.
Below shows the average annual chloride at Dam 9 in Lynxville, WI. In the last 35 years, chloride has increased by 77%.
Below shows the average annual chloride at the dam in Hastings, MN. In the last 29 years, chloride has increased by 81%.
The statistics above show a scary trend of the chloride in the Mississippi River. This is a real issue, supported by real facts. We need to make every effort to soak up water, rather than have it run into our local waterways.
Learn more about The Soak It Up! Project