Winter Salt Tips for Snow Removal Professionals

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Snow removal professionals keep roads and walkways safe during winter storms. Winter salt is making news for its increasing impact on the Potomac and Occoquan Rivers, our local drinking water sources. We can balance road safety with protecting our drinking water supply.

When you use the right amount of salt, you can save money on materials. You can avoid complaints that your team over-applied salt. You will also know that you are doing your part to protect our waterways.

Be #WinterSaltSmart and follow these tips. 

Calibrate Equipment and Double Check the Gate 

Check the salt spreader gate at the start of your shift. The last operator may have opened the gate at the end of their shift. Before leaving the yard to start your shift, return the gate to the proper setting.

Calibrating salt spreaders takes time but it’s worth it. Experts recommend calibrating spreaders when they are new, after repairs or maintenance, after switching products, and at least once a year before the winter season starts.

Track Your Usage

Track how much salt you spread during each winter weather event and look at your totals and the breakdown. How much salt was spread? Were there differences between spreaders or operators?

Use the information to check your equipment and to help target future training.

Helpful metrics to track:

  • Pounds per lane mile
  • Pounds per lane mile per inch of precipitation
  • Pounds per 1000 square feet

Roads and Sidewalks: Consider Brine, Walk-Behind Tools

Consider using brining equipment for roads, parking areas and walkways instead of rock salt. To spread deicer evenly on walkways, consider a walk-behind sprayer or applicator with adjustable settings (like those used for fertilizer or other lawn chemicals). Use no more product than necessary. 

Keep Materials Covered and Protected

Always keep salt, deicer or other product under cover and protected. Never store material near a storm drain. You don't want to lose your product before you have a chance to use it! 

Help Educate Your Clients and Staff

Private property managers, other clients, and your crew members may not understand that too much winter salt is a problem.

  • Share Arlington's Winter Salt Smart page with your staff and clients to educate them on proper salt use.
  • Provide training about how and why to use less.
  • When possible, work with clients to charge by the job or by the hour, not by how much salt is applied.

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