Rock Salt Damage to Trees & Plants
While Road salt is said to be essential to keep our roads safe for traveling during our winter season, their extensive use can become very harmful to trees and plants. Environment Canada completed a five year study of the effects of road salt on the environment. One of the cheapest and most commonly used for de-icing roads and pavements is Rock salt, consisting of 98.5% of sodium chloride (NaCl). The study concluded that rock salt is toxic to the environment, particularly in large concentrations. Studies show that an average of 1.86 trees per km of highway in Canada are affected by the toxic chemicals contained in Rock Salt and need to be replaced each year.
The effects of the toxic chemicals can easily be seen on plants and trees exposed to rock salt mists from or near the busy roads or highways (also known as salt spray). Salt spray can also happen when snow is plowed off of streets and sidewalks and onto trees and shrubs. On Evergreen trees, the needles show ‘tip-burn’, as the needles turn yellow, then bronze and subsequently become brown and begin to drop prematurely. As the needles die, the photosynthetic capacity of the tree is curtailed. Over the years the amount of new growth is reduced, causing the tree to weaken, dieback and perhaps die. On deciduous trees the salt spray affects the opening of buds and twigs.
When Rock Salt in the soil dissolves, it separates in to Sodium and Chloride Ions. Chloride Ions are absorbed by the roots and later can be transported to actively growing leafs causing the leaf to scorch, curl and even die. Sodium Ions are taken through the same chemical route as the necessary tree nutrients, later restricting the uptake of magnesium and potassium, the two essential chemicals for trees and plants. The roots there for can’t take in water through osmosis and begin to die of thirst.
With growing awareness on environmental concerns, XYNYTH Manufacturing Corp. continues to strive in providing customers with products that are environmentally friendly. Having two preferred environmentally friendly products, with potassium being their major component, Mountain Organic Natural™ Icemelter & GroundWorks Natural™ Icemelter benefit the trees and plants as potassium is a major nutrient for them. While these products are very powerful and effective they are also safe around vegetation, children and pets. One way to minimize salt injury to our trees and plants is to start thinking green and making better healthier choices with the type of de-icing products we use.