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Putting Canada's roads on a low-salt diet

Canadian cities use an enormous amount of salt and gravel to keep their roads and highways ice-free.

Canadian cities use an enormous amount of salt and gravel to keep their roads and highways ice-free. This salt damages infrastructure, eventually seeping into the ground and water systems, where it causes harmful, expensive, toxic after-effects.

EcoTraction is a pollution-free alternative developed by Canadian entrepreneurs. It bonds to ice, increasing traction, and blows away as dust when the ice is gone. It’s been featured on the popular CBC television program Dragon’s Den.

What are the pollution dangers of traditional road salt?
“Every ton of salt that we put on the road causes $900 in damage to roads, bridges and landscaping in our cities,” says EcoTraction co-founder Mark Watson. “That’s not counting rust on cars, and your shoes that get destroyed, and your pets that get sick. Multiply that by 10 million tonnes, and now you’ve got a $9-billion problem. On top of that, every ton of salt contaminates 1.64 million litres of water, to the point where it is no longer drinkable. There is no industrial contaminant larger than road salt.”

How does this new product work?
“EcoTraction is 100 per cent eco-friendly alternative to chloride-based ice melters,” Watson explains. “It’s an all-natural volcanic mineral that absorbs the thin layer of water on the surface of snow and ice, and embeds itself to create a traction zone that makes it safe to walk. It’s so safe, it helps plants grow – and actually decontaminates water. A lot of it simply disappears as dust. It can also be swept up, and used again the following year. This stuff can even be added to municipal compost – those green bin programs – to make super-rich compost.”

What are the costs compared to traditional salt?
“One cup of our EcoTraction is equal to nine cups of salt,” Watson notes. “Per square foot, it’s half the price, and there’s no toxic secondary consequences. It doesn’t burn the concrete. It doesn’t burn landscaping. It doesn’t burn a city’s fleet of vehicles. When salt goes in the water, it’s a massive pollutant. When EcoTraction goes into the water, it filters dangerous material, and is safe for aquamarine life.

Hear more from Watson at youtube.com/thetruthaboutsalt" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>.

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