Best Ways to Remediate Contaminated Soil

If you are watering your plants, exposing them to ample sunlight, and not seeing the plant growth you expect, it’s possible you are dealing with contaminated soil. You may wonder how to remediate salty soil? First, you need a soil test to determine what kind of remediation would work best. 

You can see some signs of salty soil and the need to find out how to remediate salty soil if there is a white crust on the soil when it is dry. Other contaminated soil may be from an oil spill and would require environmental cleanup services. 

Soil Remediation Types

In order to find out the salt content in your soil, you need to have it tested. There are three types of salt-affected soils: saline, saline-sodic, and sodic soils. Saline soils are the easiest to correct, while sodic soils take more extensive remediation. 

  • Saline: With saline soils, you will see a white or light brown crust on the soil surface. This is a sign that it’s time to find out how to remediate salty soil. In addition to sodium salt, saline soil contains magnesium and calcium salts that offset the adverse effects of the sodium salt. This is why the salinity problem is the easiest type to remediate. 
  • Saline-Sodic: This kind of soil has a significantly higher amount of sodium salts in it. Soils with high sodium salt are more difficult to remediate. It can take a combination of methods to first chemically treat the soil, then use water to leach the salt and remove it. That’s why you need to find a trusted contractor who knows how to remediate salty soil thoroughly. 
  • Sodic: Sodic soil contains a high amount of sodium salts and a low amount of soluble salts. This results in the soil clays being sticky when wet but hard and crusty when dry. In addition, salts accumulate in the soil, making it a terrible environment for the plant roots. 

When there is a high salt level in the soil, the water is pulled away from the roots and back into the soil. So no matter how much you water your plants, they will not get the water they need to grow. Then it’s time to learn how to remediate salty soil and take action. 

Thermal Soil Remediation

One method of how to remediate soil is through the use of heat. When you apply the heat to the soil, it turns the contaminant into a gas, releasing the gas into the air. This is most often done with oil remediation. The soil is placed into an oven, where the heat is turned way up. The oil turns into gas and floats away. Then the soil is replaced when clean to be used again. 

Thermal soil remediation can be used when the contaminates are well below ground. When the heat is applied underground, excavation wells are built for the gas to escape. That way, the contaminant can be removed below the root zone and not be a problem in the future. Thermal remediation is a widespread method for clearing contaminated soil. 

You can use this method to cleanse the soil of contaminants both above and below the water table. In addition to using thermal remediation for how to remediate salty soil, it is also used to clean pesticides, chlorinated solvents, naphthalene, and petroleum hydrocarbons. 


Encapsulation does not remediate the soil but instead creates a barrier so that the contaminant does not spread further. Think of it as placing an invisible shield around all the contaminated soil. As the water circulates through the soil, the contaminants will not leak through. 

The most common form of encapsulation is mixing the bad soil with lime, cement, and concrete. Then, the soil cannot be combined with any other soil. But keep in mind that it is only helpful on soil that is never to be used again for growing. 

While this method is effective in its purpose, it does not recover the soil. Stopping the spread of contaminants can be helpful, but the ground will be warranted unsafe for growing or planting. 

Air Sparging

This method is mainly used when toxic gas or vapors have contaminated the soil. The process involves highly pressurized air being blown into the soil to remove any gaseous contaminants. 

Air sparging does not involve the removal of the soil for treatment. The large volumes of pressurized air flow through the soil, replacing the toxic gas with new, clean air. 

Air sparging is mostly used for hydrocarbons and is a proven method for soil remediation. Because the soil does not have to be removed for treatment, it saves a few steps in the process. 


Instead of using a mechanical method to remove the soil contaminants, bioremediation involves engineered bacterium that feeds on the contaminant. The bacterium is released into the soil, consumes the contaminant, and dies off on its own. 

This effective soil remediation process does not require the removal of dirt. But it does require very specific conditions. For example, the soil must be 70 degrees F with little rain. Of course, you can cover the soil and try to create the ideal condition. But in order for the engineered bacterium to do its thing, it will need to be in an optimal environment to work in a timely manner. 

Proper Drainage

One way of how to remediate salty soil is first by tilling the soil, breaking up the large blocks of clay—then increasing the irrigation water to flush out the salty soil. The amount of water that flows through your soil will affect the soil’s health. 

You can till deep into the ground and water the soil continually to see improvements in the salt concentrations over time. 


When it comes to removing salts in the soil, leaching is an excellent answer to how to remediate salty soil. Leaching is the process of adding salt-free water to the soil to flush out the salty soil. If you are working with saline soil with proper drainage, you will be able to remediate the soil through leaching. 

In some cases, you will have to apply 48-acre inches of water to result in thorough results. First, test the water you are pouring in to be sure it contains no salt content. A 1-acre inch of water is enough water to cover a whole acre an inch deep. 48-acre inches can be necessary to flush the water out down past the root level. 

When you get your oil tested by the laboratory, they will tell you if leaching can be an effective method. They can also determine how much water will be needed to clear the soil of the salt content. 

Leaching can be performed a few times to ensure that your soil is cleansed from the saline and ready to grow plants. However, leaching is effective on saline soil only. Saline-sodic and sodic soil will need to undergo a preliminary step before leaching works to cleanse the soil. 

Evaporation Reduction

Another method for how to remediate salty soil is to reduce evaporation. When you add mulch to the soil, it reduces the amount of evaporation and, therefore, reduces the salt level in the soil. Healthy, thriving soil includes adding mulch to the soil periodically.  

Chemical Treatments

Saline-sodic and sodic soil need to experience chemical treatments before leaching is applied. This is because these soils contain too much exchangeable sodium content. When you add calcium in a soluble form, it will change the salt to soluble salts. 

Gypsum is the most common calcium treatment when it comes to treating sodic soil. Altering the soils to be susceptible to leaching is a great way to remediate salty soils. Of course, it is an extra step to treat the soil chemically. But it beats removing the soil and replacing it altogether. 

Combination of Remediation Methods

You will often find that you need to use a combination of methods to remove salt from your soil. Meet with a contracting team to get started on your project. They can work hand-in-hand with a testing facility to determine which processes are needed to get your soil back to best growing conditions. 

Whether you are looking to build on unknown property or have a suspicion that your plants aren’t growing because of salty soil, you can take action. Soil remediation is necessary to reinvent the ground that you own and make it suitable for growth. 

Not only is it safe and necessary to look into the state of the soil on your property, but you don’t want to be limited to not being able to grow grass, plants, and shrubbery. Salty soil can be remediated, and the process can be simple in many cases. Do not hesitate to contact a trusted soil remediation contractor today. 

Soil Remediation Contractors in NJ

At Mikula Contracting, we can assist in the process of soil remediation. We excel at digging proper test pits then we work with our trusted environmental firm partners for proper environmental testing and remediation, you can count on our team to get the job done right. 

Our team at Mikula Contracting is trusted in the industry. We specialize in excavation, remediation, and demolition. We are trained in safety practices and have the proper equipment to perform your soil remediation project with ease. When you call, you can ask any questions, and our team will confidently answer. 

It is important to Mikula Contracting to build relationships with the customers they serve so that you can rely on them for future projects as well. There is nothing better than knowing you can rely on your soil remediation contractor. 

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