Your Green Life: "Deicer's"

By KBJR News 1

April 3, 2014 Updated Apr 3, 2014 at 8:17 AM CDT

Duluth, MN
A snowy and icy winter may have you using more salt to clear a path.
You'll find many different kinds of deicer at your local shops, each one has a different job.

Connie Fortin, the Owner Fortin Environmental Consulting, told me, "Sodium Chloride is our cheapest and most available deicer. It works till about 15 degrees or warmer. So its nice for warmer winter days. Magnesium Chloride or Calcium Chloride work towards about the zero temperature range, or a little bit warmer."

Although deicer helps keep us safe from slipping, it's not so safe in the environment.

"We have a federal limit for how much Chloride can be in our lakes and rivers which is 230mg/L" says Fortin .

That equates to only one teaspoon of salt to pollute 5–gallons of water.
We live in an area with trout streams that are extremely sensitive to things like salinity.

Chris Kleist, the Program Coordinator City of Duluth, said "Road salts are harmful to our streams and lakes because they add conductivity to the water, they make the water salty. Salt can be toxic to fish and wildlife over time if it's persistent in the water column."

And although the salt seems to disappear from your driveway, it actually doesn't biodegrade once it's in the watershed.

Fortin tells me, "Chlorides are permanent pollutants, they never break down, they never biodegrade, they never go away. They accumulate in our water year after year. So as you use a deicer know that it's always probably going to be in our water."

The common rule of thumb is to only use about a handful of deicer per 1–hundred square feet.

Meteorologist Adam Lorch