There’s an easy way to tell if you’re using too much salt on your sidewalk, which could hurt pets and the environment

S.A.L.T. pledge helps you through icy days like today

There’s an easy way to tell if you’re using too much salt on your sidewalk, which could hurt pets and the environment
Salt is still the best to put on icy sidewalks and driveways but are you over salting?

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) -Northeast Ohio is dealing with its first shot of icy roads, driveways and sidewalks which means you may have headed right for the salt and de-icer.

You might be surprised to read experts like Amy Roskilly, a Conservation Education Program Manager with Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District (CSWCD), say yes, salt is the best way to battle ice.

“Salt is fine but it should be used properly. Most people tend to over salt,” Roskilly said.

So the CSWCD has a simple way for you to know how much to use, so you’re not causing major damage to the environment.

“Salt can burn out grass next to a driveway and any gardens close by,” Roskilly warned. “Runoff from streets goes into the storm drain and makes its way out to our rivers, streams and Lake Erie -untreated!”

CSWCD has developed a pledge they want Northeast Ohioans to use this winter with a simple acronym; S.A.L.T.

  • Stuff: Road salt (sodium chloride) only works above  15°F. 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.
  • 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 about 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 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. 
A simple pledge to keep your salt use in check this winter.
A simple pledge to keep your salt use in check this winter. (Source: Cuyahoga Soil & Water conservation District)

Protect your Pets

Protecting our pets is a whole other issue.

There are a few salt and de-icing products that are on the market that claim to be pet friendly but experts say they are only marginally better.

"The ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center classifies all ice melt products as being chemical irritants that can cause gastrointestinal signs, like vomiting and diarrhea, and topical irritation to the paw pads and skin,” according to Dr. Sarah Gorman, associate veterinarian at Boston Animal Hospital in an article for PetMD.

The problem is while a “pet safe product” may be a little bit better, unless you’re only walking your dog on your property you need to protect them.

“I recommend wiping off your pet’s paws when they come in before they have a chance to lick their paws and track it around their house. Get in the practice of doing that!” Roskilly said.

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