If you live in a cold state, you are probably familiar with road-salt. Road-salt is applied to icy patches on roads, sidewalks, and parking lots to improve traction. Salt helps to lower the freezing temperature of water in order for it to melt in freezing conditions. Though salt is a popular and effective method of treating ice buildup, salt may be negatively impacting the environment.
As salt dissolves it becomes sodium and chloride ions. Carried away by runoff into streams, lakes, rivers, and groundwater, creating unsafe environments for native plants and wildlife. The direct result of increased road salt usage, an estimated 40% of all urban lakes, streams, and rivers test positive for unsafe levels of chloride making these bodies of water uninhabitable for most marine life.
Dried salt on roads and highways attracts wildlife like moose and deer, increasing rates of roadkill and potentially causing health problems for wildlife that manage to ingest it. Similarly, salt can cause problems for domesticated animals. Dogs may, for example, experience pain if a piece of salt finds its way into a paw pad.
Instead of adding more salt to the wound (literally), try one of these environmental alternatives to road-salt:
- Salt-free deicer (also known as ‘Pet Safe Salt’)
- Coffee grounds
- Sugar beet juice