The Heap

Borscht Beltway


How do you ensure traction on roads encrusted with ice and snow? Why, hose them down with beet juice and cheese brine, of course! 

During a brutal winter in which temperatures are regularly blowing past zero without looking back, state transportation officials are desperate for ways to keep roads navigable. The trouble is, salt stops working below 16 degrees Farenheit.

But additives, including many derived from food byproducts, can stretch salt’s melting properties to -25 degrees. Hence the advent of road crews in Milwaukee appropriating vats of whey (a watery byproduct of the cheese making process), while crews in New York and Pennsylvania employ sugar beet juice, in both cases mixing the liquid with salt to create a sort of Safe Street Soup, which they hose on roads.

Reports indicate that potato juice and molasses are similarly effective additives, granting some nice nuance to the old adage, “slow as molasses in January.” Given the inert, biodegradable nature of these food derivatives, there’s little environmental impact (beyond a faint whiff of Muenster as you’re traversing the turnpike), and it represents a creative way to divert a food waste product from disposal.

So if you see the driveway of your Russian neighbor stained blood red this winter, don’t assume a massacre. He’s just trying to get to work.

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune

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The Heap is a blog featuring waste industry news and analysis written by the staff of Waste360 and guest commentators.


Allan Gerlat

Allan Gerlat joined the Waste360 staff in September 2011 as news editor. He was the editor of Waste & Recycling News for the first 16 years of its history, and under his guidance the...

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