Winter Salt Use Impacts Soil Structure

Soil Science Society of America warns against salt use

The Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) advised against the frequent use of salt on roads and sidewalks. According to SSSA, too much salt reduces soils’ ability to retain plant nutrients and water, and damages soil structure when it blows off pavement or flows away with melted ice.

“Soils that contain too much sodium are unable to effectively retain important plant nutrients,” said Mary Tiedeman. “Sodium in soils can also reduce plant-available water and is even toxic to many plant species.”

“Sodium contamination leads to the breakdown of soil aggregates (or clumps),” Tiedeman said. “Water and air cannot move as easily through the soil. This process makes for a harsh environment for plants. It also has water quality ramifications, as surface soils erode far more readily when water cannot easily penetrate the soil surface.”

If concerned about the health of the soil and nearby water resources:

  • Be proactive with shoveling;
  • Use the smallest amount of salt necessary;
  • Wet deicers before application; and
  • Use kitty litter or sand for traction.
  • Use an environmentally responsible De-Icer.

To read the SSSA blog post on this subject, visit

Source: Soil Science Society of America