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A Sweeping Scenario

Post Date:02/03/2020 12:43 PM

Frozen rain and compacted snow had formed an icy patch right on your front walkway.

You spread some salt. You were careful to make sure it didn’t bounce off. You used the appropriate spacing of 2-3 inches per salt grain. Now, thanks to the amazing chemical properties that allow sodium chloride to reduce the freezing temperature of water, the icy patch is gone. And with the sunshine out these passed couple days, you have bare pavement peeking through.

But you notice there are still salt grains all over the area. You could just leave them there for the next storm. It’s Minnesota, you know one will soon come. Then you wouldn’t have to spread more salt. It would already be there. However, leaving it is almost a sure bet that the salt will blow or get tracked elsewhere. Salt needs to be wet to begin dissolving ice. Dry grains of sand will not do any work and are easily transported.

A University of Minnesota study found that once put on the ground, 78% of the salt applied in the Twin Cities is either transported to nearby lakes and wetlands or sinks into the groundwater below. The best practice would be to sweep up that salt and place it back in the original tub or bag to be used later. Then it won’t get blown, washed, or tracked elsewhere and end up in our lakes, rivers or groundwater.

Protect lakes and rivers by sweeping up unused salt. 

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