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Strange Ice Melts: Pickle juice, Potato Juice, Cheese Byproducts, and Beet Juice

11 Feb 2016, 6:03 pm

pickle(WeatherNation Affiliate-WTVC News Channel 9) Chattanooga started out with 7,500 tons of sand and salt before the winter season started, and today, about 20 tons, including brine were spread on the city streets and highways. Places like Chattanooga are turning to unusual alternatives to sand and salt, which could damage the environment.

Every time it snows, tons of salt, sand as well as a brine solution of 23% salt in water are dumped onto the roads to clear them of ice and snow.

Once the salt, sand and a brine are dumped onto the roads, they stay there until a good rain washes them right down the drain.

So what does that do to the environment?

Not as much as you think, says UTC associate professor Jose Barbosa. “The amount that is applied, when it gets into the groundwater or even the lakes and rivers, the amount is so negligible that the impact will not be major,” he says.

Some drivers say that’s a good thing. “Being in our water supply is what would get me the most,” says Kelsey Mahony. “I think sand would be better.

But sand has its own problems. “If too much sand is used, then you’ve got issues with cars sliding around on the sand itself,” says Chattanooga’s Street Maintenance manager Ricky Colston.

So to be more environmentally friendly, states and municipalities are coming up with a wide variety of deicers, among them are pickle juice, cheese byproducts and beet juice, a molasses mixture that also stains vehicles.

West Tennessee uses potato juice, a byproduct of the distillation of vodka.

“I think a lot of it has to do with temperatures,” says Colston. “At a certain temperature, what things will work.”

Colston tells us right now, Chattanooga uses sand, salt and brine, but next year, they’ll be experimenting with another undecided mixture.

All in an effort to get the snow and ice off the roads faster.

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