Why should we be concerned about salt?

Road salt impacts the taste of drinking water. The Ontario Drinking Water Objectives for chloride are 250mg/L. If the chloride in drinking water is at higher concentrations, a salty taste may be detected.

Since chloride is highly soluble, in many of the Town’s groundwater wells levels are approaching or exceeding the 250 mg/L limit.

Unfortunately there is no easy fix once the damage is done. Currently our water and wastewater treatment does not remove salt from the water. Desalination is the only way to remove salt but is extremely expensive and energy intensive. This would incur much greater water costs for the community and increase greenhouse gases.

The only practical approach to minimize the amount entering our drinking water and its impacts, is to reduce the amount of salt being used.

Here’s how you can help keep salt out of our drinking water:

  • When on the move:
    • Wear winter boots with a good tread. Consider adding ice grippers to shoes and boots for extra grip. The KITE Research Institute tests footwear for its effectiveness on reducing slip and falls and includes results on their Rate My Treads website.
    • Consider installing winter tires on your car, slow down and keep distance and give right-of-way to winter maintenance vehicles.
    • Plan and give yourself time to reach your destination.

Road Salt – Snow and Ice Clearing Tips for Homeowners

It is important that we take action to manage road salt responsibly and protect the Town of Orangeville's drinking water supplies. Follow these tips for winter maintenance.

Alternatives to using salt

Once the temperature drops below -10C it is too cold for salt to work. While sand won’t melt ice, you can use to provide traction at these temperatures.

When salt is required, you can use the snow and ice clearing tips below.

Snow and ice clearing tips

  • Shovel or plow the snow as soon as possible to prevent ice build-up
  • Break up ice with a steel ice chopper and then clear away ice with a shovel
  • prevent the development of ice patches by redirecting water spouts to your lawn or garden
  • Add traction when needed with sand, grit or non-clumping kitty litter
  • Do not use salt to melt snow. Salt is for ice only.

When you need to use salt

  • Choose a product with a smaller grain. It will spread more evenly, requires less salt, and will work faster.
  • Follow manufacturer instructions for application amounts and temperatures
  • Sprinkle small amounts on icy areas only. In many cases, all you need is a few tablespoons of salt for one square metre (around the size of a sidewalk slab)
  • Give salt time to work before clearing the ice. Even when you can't see it any more, salt is still hard at work melting the ice.
  • Sweep up any excess salt after a melt occurs

Salt management for commercial and industrial properties

While salt is necessary to ensure the safety of others on your property it should not be your first or only line of defence.

Over salting or salting when not required can be damaging to your property and our community’s drinking water.

Industrial, commercial and institutional properties tips

  • Make sure salt is stored in a covered, waterproof shelter
  • Plow or shovel first before applying salt to roadways and sidewalks
  • Consider using alternative products such as sand or kitty litter
  • Apply liquid salt brine instead of solid salt because you can reduce the amount of salt needed
  • Have a plan to deal with ice when it is too cold for salt to work (around -10°C)

Is your business winter-ready?

  • Walk your property to understand where ice forms, and how to prevent it
  • Require salt training for your team and hired contractor's staff
  • Maintain good records in case of a slip and fall claim
  • Identify where to store plowed snow that keeps ice from forming across your parking lot due to melt and freeze weather

Snow Removal Contractors

Complete salt management training and certify as a Smart About Salt contractor.

Road salt impacts the taste of drinking water.