Winter Salt Smart: This Winter, Use Less Salt

Be #WinterSaltSmart: Shovel Early, Treat Wisely, Sweep It Up

In Arlington and across the region, we are watching our winter salt use – here’s how you can too. Use these three easy steps:

1. Shovel Early and Often

First, remove snow with a shovel before it turns to ice.

Consider not using any salt. Can you use shoveling, sand, and sunlight to keep your sidewalks safe and ice-free? 

If you use salt or other deicer, apply it only after clearing snow.

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2. Treat Wisely: Spread Lightly and Evenly

If you use salt or another deicer, spread lightly and evenly.

Consider using pet-friendly and more eco-friendly products that use Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA) instead of sodium chloride. Sand or birdseed can provide traction and help prevent falls. 

For a 20-foot driveway, a 12-ounce coffee mug is typically enough (Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments). That works out to one to two tablespoons per sidewalk square.

Winter Salt - 12 oz mug.jpg Winter Salt - Tablespoon.jpg

3. Sweep and Reuse

After ice melts, sweep leftover salt into safe storage to keep it out of our rivers and streams.

Winter Salt - Sweep and Reuse.gif

Images courtesy of Montgomery County, MD.

Why Is Winter Salt in the News?

It only takes one teaspoon of salt to permanently pollute 5 gallons of water. Winter salt is making news for its increasing impact on local drinking water sources.

Salt can:

  • Raise sodium levels in our drinking water and increase treatment costs.
  • Harm pets, fish, plants and other wildlife.
  • Corrode vehicles, roads, bridges and parking lots.

There’s no easy or cheap way to remove salt from our environment. We can all do our part to use less salt. Be #WinterSaltSmart!

MWCOG Salt Smart Graphic.jpg

Bonus Tips: Prevent Ice, Stay Off Roads, Watch the Temps

Divert Downspouts to Prevent Ice

Direct your downspouts or sump pumps to drain onto lawn areas to keep your sidewalks and driveways ice-free. Be Nice and Clear the Ice.

Plan Ahead, Stay Off the Roads

Gather supplies beforehand and if possible, plan to stay off the roads until the snow melts. 

Too Cold for Salt? Watch the Temperature

When it is colder than 15°F, winter salt will not work. Build traction with alternatives like sand.

Protect Pets, Plants, Streams, and Drinking Water

When we use less salt, we protect our pets' paws - and our drinking water sources.


How is Arlington Helping Reduce Salt Use?

Brine uses a quarter of the salt contained in traditional rock salt. When the County uses brine instead of rock salt on County roads, we can limit how much salt ends up in our drinking water sources. 

If you see excess salt on the roads, you can take photos and report it:

Arlington County is also participating in the Northern Virginia Salt Management Strategy: 


Images courtesy of the Northern Virginia Clean Water PartnersMetropolitan Washington Council of Governments, Montgomery County, MDNorthern Virginia Salt Management Strategy, and the Salting Shift Campaign of the Smart About Salt Council