Salting tips for when temps drop

MADISON, Wis (WMTV) - While the winter wonderland views may be enjoyable, the ice collecting on streets and sidewalks can cause issues.

Phil Gaebler, a water resources engineer with the City of Madison, advised salt might not always be the best solution when de-icing in extremely cold temperatures.

“It’s so cold right now that the salt can take a long, long time to work, so long it will probably get kicked off the sidewalk before it gets a chance to melt any ice,” he said.

He said the most typical salt used to de-ice is sodium chloride, however, when temperatures drop below 15 degrees it becomes ineffective. Gaebler said once it gets down to negative six, it takes almost 48 hours to melt the ice.

“Your standard and cheapest salt is just rock salt. Sodium chloride is the same stuff you have on your kitchen table,” Gaebler said.

On Friday, many people dealt with below freezing temperatures. Gaebler said there are other options beside rock salt.

“When it’s colder than 15 degrees, there are a few common deicers you can use: calcium chloride and magnesium chloride,” he said.

He said these materials can be picked up at hardware stores, but people should be aware they should not use calcium chloride or magnesium chloride if it’s too warm.

Gaebler said he recommends switching to sand once it gets below negative five.

“The city only spreads sodium chloride, so below 15 degrees that is not effective. So, they will switch over to only putting down sand to give cars traction and wait for things to warm up before spreading salt,” he said.

For additional tips on how to properly spread your salt on the ground to increase effectiveness click here

The City of Madison also has free sand available at several parks around town.