Reduce Your Winter Salt Use

Every year Canadians brave the winter weather to go about our daily lives.  Coats and mitts, snow tires, shovels and salt; we all have our weapons of choice for battling against the cold and ice but sometimes we forget to keep the planet in mind.  To help make things a little easier on the planet, here is some info about the salts we use and tips for more eco-friendly alternatives.

For starters, we’re not talking about the same kind of salt as on your dinner table; we’re talking about road salts, table salt’s beefier cousin.  Road salts help to melt the ice and snow, and create traction so your shoes or wheels don’t slide out from under you.

It’s just salt, right?  Well, the environment isn’t used to the huge amount that we use.  Many living things cannot survive in salty environments (which is why salt is such a useful preservative in food).  Every year, an estimated five million tonnes of salt are used on roads and sidewalks in Canada.  This messes with nature, harms animals and plants, and contaminates fresh water.

On top of all this, salt isn’t great for our pets.  Dogs and cats will lick salt and other deicers off of their paws.  Check out this video from EcoTraction explaining the toxins and their impacts on our pets:

There are many products on the shelves that will claim they are safe for your pets, but don’t be fooled.  Just because they are safe for your pets’ paws, does NOT mean they are safe for your pets to eat.  Read the label carefully, and make sure you understand the ingredients.

Sand and kitty litter are great alternatives.  If you go with sand, make sure you use brick sand, which is grittier than the playground sand (it is available at local building supply stores).  As for kitty litter, stay clear of the clumping stuff or you will have a big mess on your hands.

For more info, check out our website:


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Rose Bergeron on April 11, 2012 at 9:30 am

    What about wood ashes? It is messy, but it works wonderfully on ice. Doesn’t it contain ash-derived potash, or potassium carbonate, which can be a fertilizer?

    “Where soils are acid and low in potassium, wood ash is beneficial to most garden plants except acid-loving plants such as blueberries, rhododendrons and azaleas. Use wood ash on flower beds, lawns and shrubs.

    The fertilizer value of wood ash depends on the type of wood you burn. As a general rule, hardwoods such as oak weigh more per cord and yield more ash per pound of wood burned. Hardwood ash contains a higher percentage of nutrients than ash from softwoods such as Douglas-fir or pine.” from


    • Posted by Kathryn Gold on April 12, 2012 at 1:08 pm

      Wood ash works well too. In urban areas it’s not as readily available as in rural areas — but it’s certainly a good alternative!


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