SALT 101: Best practices for safe sidewalks - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

SALT 101: Best practices for safe sidewalks

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Snow season is about to come to the metro, and a many people are stocking up on salt -- but Fox 9 News tracked down some tips to help consumers get the right crystals and use them correctly.

When the snow and ice arrive, sidewalks and driveways can transform a convenient course into a dangerous path -- but when it comes to salting spaces, it's not as simple as some may believe.

Many people put down salt before it snows, but that's only a good idea if fewer than 2 inches of snow will fall.

"That will usually eliminate any accumulation you would get," John Gabriel said.

The thing that most people don't know is that putting salt down before a bigger snowfall can actually make it more difficult to shovel.

"If you salt and get a lot of snow on top of it, what's going to happen is: It's going to turn the bottom layer to mush and make it very hard to shovel," Gabriel explained. "It can almost turn to ice at any point."

Some may assume that since rain is most likely to freeze to hazardous ice, it's not a good idea to salt ahead of a frigid drizzle. Gabriel said on days like Tuesday, where the wintry mix oscillates between snow and rain, it's best to wait.

"If you put down salt and we get a lot of rain, it will simply wash away," he said.

That's more than just a wasteful nuisance, too.

"It's also going to wash it into your plantings and into the street, where we don't' want a lot of salt," Gabriel warned.

There are lots of types to choose from too, which can be confusing for first-time homeowners. As a general rule, rock salt is good on asphalt, but it can get messy and is harder on concrete, bushes and other plants.

Salt is also irritating to the feet of four-legged friends, but there are pet-safe salts that work down to 10 degrees.

For those who may be stumped on the sort of salt they should buy, Gabriel recommends a magnesium chloride because it works down to the coldest temperatures and is the least harmful to asphalt, plants, or pets.


Minneapolis offers city residents several pick-up locations where free sand can be gathered for use at home. Residents are urged to bring their own pail and shovel to one of the following locations:

- 6036 Harriet Ave. S. 6036 Harriet Ave. S., on West 60th Street between Lyndale and Harriet

- 1809 Washington St. NE, at 18th and Jefferson

- E. 27th Street, just east of Longfellow Avenue near the Public Works gate

- 2710 Pacific Street, outside the main Public Works gate between 27 th and 28 th Avenue North

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