As winter winds down and spring approaches, we’re getting into the season of refreeze. Snow is melting and as temperatures hover around freezing, it’s the perfect conditions for slick, icy sidewalks and driveways.

While everyone wants to avoid slipping and falling, before you lay down buckets of salt on your sidewalks, consider some of the do’s and don’ts of salting.


  • Delay shoveling your snow. Be sure to clear walkways and other high traffic areas before it turns to ice. The more snow that’s removed, the less salt you need.
  • Use too much salt. You only need a coffee mug of salt to treat an entire 20-foot driveway, or 10 sidewalk squares. Scatter only what you need, ensuring there is space between the grains.


  • Educate yourself about salt. Our latest Road Salt Report outlines how road salt works and digs into some local trends concerning salt use and the impact on our lakes.
  • Switch to sand. When it gets really cold (below 15 degrees), salt doesn’t work. Switching to sand helps add traction and ensures no salt is wasted.
  • Hire a certified snow removal contractor. If you decide to hire someone to clear your snow, check to see if your contractor completed the Winter Salt Certification Program.

You might be asking, why we care about how much salt is used? The bottom line: once you put salt down, it doesn’t go away.

It alters the composition of soil, slows down plant growth and weakens the concrete, brick and stone that make up our homes, garages, bridges and roads. It also washes into our waters, putting our freshwater resources at risk. There’s much more to learn about the impacts of over salting at Wisconsin Salt Wise. It’s a coalition of organizations working together to reduce salt pollution in our environment.

This content is free for use with credit to the City of Madison - Public Health Madison & Dane County and a link back to the original post.