Cities Are Making the Switch from Polluting Salt to Sugar Beets to Clean Icy Roads

Excessive application of salt on the roads is known to pollute the urban waterways and cause damage to vehicles. This is why some cities are searching for less damaging and greener options to de-ice their roads.

One of these methods is a potion of beet-enhanced brine for coating roads. Washington recently announced they were preparing the mixture for their road-coating beef extract. Some people were confused as they were unable to pair beets and streets.

But, this has been going on for some time now. 

Beets Are the Greener Method to De-Ice Roads & Reduce Pollution & Damage to Vehicles

Namely, Washington and many other cities have long used a potion of beet brine to coat their roads. When mixed up with the traditional ice-melting chlorides, sugar beet extract is considered better at reducing the water’s freezing point than using just salt. 

Plus, it’s more biodegradable and the corrosion risk is smaller for the vehicles.

This method with beets was discovered in the 90s by a Hungarian scientist and has since spread throughout the North of America and joined the list of several other alternatives to de-icing agricultural byproducts like cheese brine, pickle juice, and leftover beer. 

Salt Is Damaging & Increasing the Awareness & Greener Solution Is Crucial

Using beet-based products to melt ice helps lower the chloride pressure on the infrastructure and the environment and provides good results.

When beet extract is mixed with 20 percent chloride, the temperature drops further and it means that only the properly frigid temperatures can turn residual water into ice overnight. 

Approximately 15 to 17 million tons of rock salt are poured onto the US roadways yearly. They don’t just contaminate the drinking water and waterways, but also contribute to plowing equipment corrosion, a higher risk of deer collisions because they come onto the road to lick the salt. 

According to Danelle Haake, stream ecologist and director of the Illinois RiverWatch, she often sees a cup worth of salt on one sidewalk square whereas one cup of salt should be sufficient for an entire driveway to be treated, depending on the driveway. 

States like Illinois are trying to lower the over-salting contamination through education. Her proposition is to dissolve less salt in water and spray the water onto the ice.