Snow and Ice Clearing Tips for Homeowners

Help keep salt out of groundwater

Waterloo Region relies on groundwater for drinking water. Over time the salt we put on the ground can end up in our drinking water and cause it to taste salty.

What to use instead of salt:

Sand doesn't melt the ice but can be used to provide traction or when it is too cold for salt to work. City of Kitchener residents can access sand using the City of Kitchener sandbox locator map.

If you want to melt the ice the product you use most likely contains salt. This includes most ice melter products including products labelled pet, plant and environmentally friendly or 100% natural.

Snow and ice clearing tips:

  • Shovel or plow the snow as soon as you can before it packs down and turns to ice
  • Break up ice with a steel ice chopper and then clear away ice with a shovel
  • Add traction when needed with sand, grit or non-clumping kitty litter
  • Do not use salt to melt snow. Salt is for ice only.

If salt is required:

  • Choose a product with a smaller grain. It will spread more evenly, requires less salt and will work faster.
  • Follow product directions for application rate and working temperature.
    • Salt works best between 0 and -10 Celsius. When colder, switch to sand for traction or an ice melter that works at colder temperatures.
    • Sprinkle small amounts on icy areas only. In many cases, a few tablespoons of salt for one square metre (about the size of a sidewalk slab) is all you need.
  • 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 spilled and excess applied salt to save for another time. Salt does not expire.

illustration of snow clearing at home

Click on image to download PDF version.

I Am Groundwater blog posts about salt:

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