Salt Use and De-icers in Winter Conditions

When winter weather arrives, the District of Squamish requests all residents to please consider the type of product they use to keep concrete surfaces clear of ice and snow.

Rock salt (sodium chloride) is the most basic type of de-icing salt and is generally not recommended for concrete surfaces as it can cause damage in the form of cracks and surface flakes. De-icing products typically indicate on their packaging if they are safe for use on concrete surfaces. Salting too much may still cause damage though so always read the instructions on the label to ensure you apply the product properly.

For concrete less than a year old, be sure to check with your supplier or contractor to find out how to protect it.

Environmental Impacts:

Squamish is abundant with biodiversity, wildlife and sensitive habitat, which unfortunately can be adversely affected by the use of salt and de-icers. Salt can contaminate freshwater ecosystems by altering the natural pH levels of the water and soil which can be harmful to plants, animals and other organisms.

You can help protect the environment by reducing the use of salt when possible. 

Salt tips to minimize your impact:

  • Shovel first. Clear all snow from driveways and sidewalks before it turns to ice.
  • Salt should only be used after the snow is removed and only in areas needed for safety.
  • Consider the use of sand as an alternative to salt.
  • Make sure your salt is rated for the temperature, as some formulations stop working if the temperature is below about -10°C.
  • Only use what you need. A 12-ounce (350mls) coffee mug of salt should be enough for 500 square feet of driveway or 10 sidewalk slabs.
  • Consider a de-icing product that has a lower impact on animals. If you’re a pet owner, remember to clean their paws after walks and prevent pets from ingesting products while out.
  • Distribute salt evenly. Do not drop salt in clumps. Clumped salt is wasted salt.
  • Clean up excess salt to prevent it from getting into local water sources.
  • Cleaning up excess salt and sand is important because what's left on the ground eventually makes its way into our soil and water supply, including surface water like creeks, streams, and groundwater. By using the District of Squamish Web Map and selecting the environmental layers you can start to see just how diverse and vast Squamish ecosystems are.

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