When clearing winter walks
* Shovel early and often. The more snow and ice you remove, the less salt you’ll need.
* Sprinkle sparsely. Leave 3 inches between salt grains.
* Go lean. A coffee mug is adequate for a 20-foot driveway or 10 sidewalk squares.
* Use a tool. A handheld spreader can apply salt consistently.
* Wait for warmer weather. When ground temperatures are below 15 degrees, it’s too cold for ordinary sodium chloride to work.
* Use the right de-icer. Calcium chloride works at much lower temperatures than sodium chloride.
* Sweep up extra salt. If it is visible on dry pavement, it is not doing anything and will be washed into water bodies.
When considering, choosing, or using a water softener
* You might not need one. Find out the hardness of your water by consulting a professional, or using a hardness testing kit. If water is at an acceptable level, think twice about softening. The chloride standard for drinking water is 250 mg/l.
* Don’t over-soften. Check your unit’s settings. It may have been set at an unnecessarily high level at the factory.
* Soften only the water that needs it. Not to outside spigots or cold drinking water taps.
* Monitor your softener. If it uses more than one bag of salt per month, work with a water quality professional to optimize efficiency.
* Look into lower-salt methods. Pre-filters can be used to remove iron, manganese, and hydrogen sulfide without help from water softeners.
* Upgrade your softener. Look for demand-initiated versions that are more salt efficient, operate based on how much water you use, and can reduce salt use by up to 60 percent.
* Lengthen the cycle. If you have a timer-based system, see if you can extend the time between cycles.