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Water Quality/Salt Use Ratio & Application to Weeds?


QUESTION: Steve, stumbled on this site while researching use of salt to kill undesirable weeds/grass in front/backyard. Live in wooded area with water well in front, septic mound out back. Don't want to use Monsanto hazardous chemicals as household relies solely on well water for drinking/cleaning/bathing. No time/money to go mulch/plastic sheeting route. Curious too if covering areas with salt would attract deer? Lastly could this salt leach into well water supply? If indeed salt safe for task at-hand without harmful side-effects (save for dead weeds/grass), then at what concentration? Dissolve salt in water and apply using hose sprayer or distribute dry via lawn spreader? Appreciate your expertise and thanks in advance!

I need to know how deep your water well is, if you know.  I don't see any problems with using salt for weed control and probably would not attract deer.  But let me know about well depth so I can determine if the salt would leach into aquifer.  Also, is your well head completely sealed?  If not, seal it asap - whether you use salt or not.
I will wait to hear back,

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QUESTION: Appreciate your quick response. Unfortunately no clue re well depth. Maybe the builder remembers? Will investigate and advise either way. And yes! the wellhead is completely sealed (thanks for asking)!

I think you're fine.  Don't go through a lot of work to find the depth.  I got to thinking about it and you aren't going to be using that much salt anyway.  

Glad to hear the well is sealed.  I have been surprised by how many of my readers have a wellhead that isn't completely sealed.  That scares me b/c all kinds of things and critters (even mice) can get into a wellhead.   I am very glad that you are so environmentally  conscious.  Keep up the good work.  Let me know if you have any questions.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Try to be environmentally conscious and dislike woods being replaced by retail cement blocks!

Good to know I don't require well depth after all, though need a bit more "project" clarification:
(1) Use plain or iodized salt?
(2) Apply at what concentration? Exact sq ft to be treated unknown.
(3) Dissolve salt in water and apply using hose sprayer OR distribute dry salt via lawn spreader?
(4) Best to avoid application if rain imminent?
(5) Safe to use on weeds around wellhead (without risk to aquifer)?

BTW definitely relate to unsealed wellhead. Leased early '90s. Well water developed orangy/rusty sediment/funky odor. Landlord said he'd handle and did one muggy afternoon in my absence. Upon returning, I figured shower would cool me off and instead of refreshing rinse was doused with "slippery/slimy water with potent bleach smell." Ugh! Glad hadn't washed load of dark-colored clothes first. Next day bought padlock and "sealed" (locked) wellhead cap. Landlord called 3 days later to boast how bleach should have killed algae, but nothing to be done about iron and copper in water. While he neither apologized for inflicting possible danger nor paid for the bleach (my new bottle MIA), at least the funky water odor disappeared and origin of mysterious teal bathtub ring revealed! Drank/cooked with bottled water rest of lease, unlocking wellhead right before U-Haul pulled out driveway! Moral? Padlock your wellhead cap and retain keys to avoid unknown critters, esp. DIY landlords utilizing stealth attacks of the bleaching kind!

Thanks and kindly await your reply.

Hello Ann,
In regards to your questions I really have no idea about using salt for controlling weeds.  I could guess but you might want to look online.  Here is a site that has a mixture using salt and white vinegar that looks pretty good;

My guesses to your questions are:

#1: either
#2: I would guess about 25% or about 2 lbs. per gallon of water - completely dissolve
#3: See #2.
#4: Yes
#5: Yes it is safe as long as the wellhead has a nice seal  (as yours does).

As far as your wellhead treatment that was done in your absence - it's actually pretty common to use bleach to disinfect a well when the well water becomes contaminated.  Some bacteria like iron bacteria or sulfur bacteria can form slimy masses that emit a very foul odor.  The most economical and safe treatment is bleach.  (Same principle as chlorinating drinking water since bleach is a form of chlorine).  See this great article:

You must be very careful with the use of chlorine if you have a septic system.  The chlorine can actually kill the helpful organisms in the septic tank and kill the whole decomposition process.  What I usually recommend when a well has to be chlorinated is to make a chlorine remover.  You can then circulate the water from the well through the pipes in your house and then run it through the chlorine remover and then just spray the water on the ground.  If you ever get into a position where you need to do this let me know and I will show yoou how to make the chlorine remover.

Good luck Ann and let me know if you have any other questions.


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Steve Young


I will answer questions on residential water treatment, i.e. use of softeners, filters, reverse osmosis systems, disinfection, iron and/or sediment removal and other issues facing the homeowner. I have worked extensively with well water systems.


I have worked in the water treatment area for many years as a consultant and as a professional environmental engineer in the private industry sector. I have designed reverse osmosis, deionization, and water softening systems. I have also done work in water quality and stream and river remediation as it relates to the Clean Water Act.

I am currently serving as an Expert for Home Improvement, Travel (New Mexico) and Travel (North Carolina);

BS Environmental Eng.

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