Snow Removal and Salting

Snow Removal Tips for Sidewalks

Salt makes our walkways safer, but it destroys lakes and the Mississippi River. Do your part for clean water with these winter tips…less salt is best, and it still works!

  • Shovel first.  Salt is more effective and you’ll use a lot less if you remove as much snow and ice as possible before applying.
  • More salt does not mean more melting.  One pound of salt is about a heaping 12-ounce coffee mug – this is more than enough for pavement the size of a parking space. And be patient: salt takes time to work. Applying more just means waste and unnecessary pollution to lakes and rivers.
  • 15 degrees is too cold for most salt to work.  Most salts stop working below 15°F. In frigid conditions, use sand for traction.
  • Sweep up extra salt.  Extra salt or sand on dry pavement isn’t working. Sweep it up and reuse it or it’ll be washed away.

How do I properly shovel my sidewalk?

Are there laws about clearing sidewalks in Saint Paul?

In St Paul, it’s the law that owners, renters, and businesses remove all snow and ice from their sidewalks within 24 hours of a snowfall and keep them clear of ice and snow (

What is considered a ‘cleared and safe sidewalk’?

There is no explicit definition for this, of course clear to the cement or concrete is ideal but what is important to consider is how the sidewalk will be used. Here are some good questions that will help you determine if your sidewalk is cleared and safe.

  1. Could someone in a wheelchair use the sidewalk?
  2. Could emergency responders access the house or apartment if needed?
  3. If you are applying salt, is it the appropriate temperature for it to melt the ice (15 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer) and are you applying too much (about 2/3 of a 12 oz cup for an area the size of one parking space – 1 lb / 250 sq. ft.)? Overuse of salt is ineffective, injures pets and ends up in our lakes during spring melting.

Think before you salt

A low-salt diet is considered healthy for humans. According to MN Pollution Control Agency, lakes and rivers could also benefit. Roads, parking lots and sidewalks are salted for safety, but when snow and ice melt, most of this salt pollutes lakes and rivers. Once salt is in our waters, there’s no way to remove it and it harms fish and plant life. Practice salt reduction on your home drive and sidewalks by doing the following:

  • Shovel. The more snow and ice you remove manually, the less salt you will have to use and the more effective it can be. Break up ice with an ice scraper and decide whether application of a de-icer or sand is even necessary to maintain traction.
  • More salt does not mean more melting. Use less than four pounds of salt per 1,000 square feet (an average parking space is about 150 square feet). One pound of salt is approximately a heaping 12-ounce coffee mug.
  • 15 degrees is too cold for most salt to work. Most salts stop working around this temperature. Instead, use sand for traction.
  • Sweep up extra salt. If salt or sand is visible on dry pavement, it is no longer doing any work and will be washed away.

To learn more about reducing salt levels in lakes and rivers, visit Minnesota Pollution Control Agency salt webpage at