Reducing Use of Deicing Salt for Businesses & Custodial Staff

University campus with deicing brine on sidewalk in winter Why are we concerned about road salt use?

During winter months, businesses not only need to ensure their parking lots and sidewalks are cleared and free of snow and ice for customer access, they also have added concerns of liability risk associated with slip and fall accidents as well as costs associated with buildings and other infrastructure that can deteriorate prematurely and/or become unsafe as a result of salt degradation. The good news is that businesses can keep surfaces free of ice and snow and limit use of salt. It saves time, money, and helps protect infrastructure and the environment!

Business owners can consider the following:

  • Try anti-icing – Consider spreading a 23% mixture of salt and water ahead of storms (except if freezing rain is predicted). The goal is to prevent build up between the ice and snow and the pavement. Liquid salt brines can be purchased pre-made to make this simple for business owners.
  • Use an Infrared thermometer – You can use a handheld infrared thermometer to determine the pavement temperature. Only use sodium chloride (NaCl) if pavement temperature is above 15F, and use pavement temperature to determine how much salt to spread.
  • Less salt is needed at higher pavement temperatures – For instance, when the pavement is 30F, 1 pound of NaCl will melt about 46 pounds of ice in 5 minutes, but when the pavement temperature is 15F, 1 pound of salt will melt only about 6 pounds of ice in an hour. Refer to the Minnesota Snow and Ice Control Field Handbook for Snowplow Operators (PDF) which shows the range of amounts of salt needed and times to melt ice at varied pavement temperatures. Chemicals other than NaCl must be used when pavement temperatures are below 16F as NaCl is no longer effective at such temperatures


How-Tos for Custodians and Others Managing Building Entryways

In the following video, made in partnership with University of Vermont custodial staff, Michael White shares tips for using a product called Entry and general salt application and clean up guidelines for custodians and other professionals who have responsibility to manage snow and ice outside of building entryways.