Salting your sidewalks? Here’s how much you should use

NOAA’s winter outlook predicts cooler, wetter season

Madison, Wis. –When it comes to salt use the right amount is kind of like Goldilocks. You don’t want to use too much or too little. Officials with the Madison Water Utility tell News 3 Now that a regular sized cup filled with road salt is the perfect amount to melt ice off an entire drive way or ten sidewalk squares.

“I know it’s hard to get the salt grains spread out, but it’s just kind of making that effort and being aware. When things get warmer and there is salt down and it’s not really necessary, you should try to sweep it up,” Amy Barrilleaux, from the Madison Water Utility said.

The Madison Water Utility works hard to educate the community on proper salt use. However, according to research by Public Health Madison and Dane County the amount of salt in our water systems has only increased. The city has 23 wells. Well 14, which is located on the city’s west side off of University Avenue, has the highest sodium levels. Barrilleaux said if a person drinks only from that well for a day the sodium they’d consume is equivalent to a piece of bread.

Right now the sodium levels aren’t threatening to the health of an average person, but could be to someone on a low sodium diet.

“It’s really going to be an issue for people who are on extremely reduced salt diets. So those folks have already probably been told by their doctors to track their salt use including in their drinking water,” Barrilleaux said.

Barrilleaux tells News 3 Now that an estimated half of the salt that ends up in area drinking water and lakes is from private businesses and residents. She recommends using sand instead of salt for traction. Once the temperature drops below 20 degrees salt will not melt ice and snow.