As we plow (or shovel as it may be) our way through another Northland winter, many are looking for ways to battle not only the snow - but the ice that forms on sidewalks and driveways.  While there are de-icing products available for purchase on the shelves in just about every store this time of year, many look for ways to battle ice accumulations in different ways or by using less salt.

Some people utilize sand, wood chips or sawdust, or grit to give traction on icy sidewalks and driveways. However, sometimes the ice needs to go - and that's when people turn to de-icers - which are generally made with salt.  The Environmental Services Division of the Public Works Department in Superior offers the following four steps to "salting smart":

  • Shovel:  Before you start the process of removing the accumulated ice, shovel the snow away.  That way you can access the ice that lies below, and at the same time give the sun a chance to naturally melt some of it away.
  • Scatter:  Use salt and de-icers only where critical.  Aim for 3-inches of space between salt granules.
  • Switch:  Salt doesn't melt below 15-degrees Fahrenheit.  Spreading salt when the temperature dips below that won't give you any benefits - it simply won't work.  Use sand for traction at that point.
  • Sweep:  Clean up leftover salt, sand, and de-icer to save for future reuse.  This action also helps prevent additional salt from entering stormwater sewers.

While you can buy de-icer in the store, making your own is easy - and offers you the chance to control how much salt (not to mention other chemicals) is included.  Here's a recipe for your own salt brine solution:

  • Ingredients:  24-32 ounces of rock salt & 1 gallon of water
  • Method:  Pour the rock salt into a bucket.  Bring 4 cups of water to boil.  Add the hot water to the bucket, stirring to dissolve the salt into the water.  Add 12 cups of water to the brine and stir to combine.  Pour the completed salt brine into a watering can or dispenser.  Apply the brine to cleared driveways and sidewalks using a steady, back-and-forth motion.
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