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Does Salt Cause Water Pollution?

salt water pollutionSalt is a common tool used to melt ice and snow on roads during the winter months. It is an effective and inexpensive method for making roads safer and preventing accidents. However, while salt makes icy roads less dicey, it can also have negative effects on the environment.  In particular, it can cause water pollution.

Salt is a type of de-icer that works by lowering the freezing point of water. When spread on the roads, it melts the ice and snow, making it easier for vehicles to drive on. However, the salt that is spread on the roads does not simply disappear after the snow and ice have melted. It can run off into nearby waterways, seeping into the soil, and contaminating groundwater supplies.

Effects of Salt

The effects of salt on the land can be devastating. Salt can alter the chemical balance of the soil, making it difficult for plants to grow. This can lead to the death of vegetation in areas near roads and highways. Additionally, salt runoff can harm aquatic life in nearby streams and rivers, disrupting the food chain and affecting the overall health of the ecosystem. Salt can also have negative impacts on infrastructure and buildings. Prolonged exposure to salt can cause corrosion and structural damage to bridges, sidewalks, and other structures. This can result in costly repairs and maintenance.


There are several alternatives to using road salt in winter:

  1. Calcium Chloride: Calcium chloride is a more effective de-icer than salt and works at lower temperatures. It also has a lower impact on the environment compared to salt.
  2. Beet Juice: Beet juice is a natural alternative to salt that is made from beet sugar. It works as a de-icer by lowering the freezing point of water and preventing ice from forming on the roads.
  3. Sand: Sand provides traction on ice and snow, but does not melt it. Sand can be used in conjunction with salt to improve traction and reduce the amount of salt needed.
  4. Magnesium Chloride: Magnesium chloride is a de-icer that is less corrosive than salt and has a lower impact on the environment.
  5. Potassium Chloride: Potassium chloride is a salt alternative that is less damaging to the environment compared to traditional road salt. It is also less toxic to plants and animals.
  6. Bio-based De-icers: Bio-based de-icers are made from organic materials, such as corn and potatoes, and are considered more environmentally friendly than traditional road salt.

In conclusion, there are several alternatives to using road salt in winter, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. The best option for a particular location will depend on factors such as climate, traffic volume, and environmental considerations. To minimize the impact of de-icers on the environment, it is recommended to use a combination of methods and to limit the amount of salt used whenever possible.

Read our blog to find about diseases caused by polluted water.

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