This Morning: Knowing the pros and cons of road salt


While road salt is essential for safe winter driving, it also has some hidden hazards that can lead to problems later on.

It’s no secret deicing salt is critical in our state.

Every year state highway and local road crews apply up to 20 million tons of it.

But along with it’s benefits, there are also some consequences and those can affect both the environment and your car.

While the days of snow and ice have hit pause for now.. the aftermath of it’s cleanup is still in play.

Joe Laird is the owner of Driven Collisison in Lansing.

“Look at how easy this metal just rips apart,” says Laird.

He shows just how extensive corrosion damage can get.

Laird says that road salt can lead to rust, creating a slwer of costly problems for your car.

Ranging from brake system leaks to frame damage.

“Look how bad this is underneath your whole vehicle could just fall apart,” says Laird.

That same dose of salt you see splashing against nearby cars is according to Bert Cregg, also flung onto nearby shrubs and trees.

“When you get north of 69..there’s some trees that have been planted there a few years ago you’ll see like in the spring the flowering pears only flower on the road, on the side away from the road,” says Cregg.

Cregg is a horticulture and forestry Professor at Michigan State University. 

He says road salt is a combination of mainly sodium and chloride.

That combination can be toxic, browning plants and crops near a roadside over time.

While de-icing salt is to blame, studies show it’s also considered the safest way to reduce crashes.

In fact, by about 90 percent.. so it’s not going away anytime soon.

There are some alternatives but they’re a little bit more pricey.

Because of that, road commissions take steps to use less salt on the roads like pre-wetting it and adding in sand or gravel to help it stick more easily.

A good rule of thumb, is to get your car washed every couple weeks in the winter. Laird says, that can help prevent rust from forming.

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