WTF Fun Fact 12629 – Pickled Roads

Well, to be fair, we’ve driven on salted roads and sometimes the best we ever got was the need for a car wash afterward. So we believed it when we heard cities use other methods. We just wouldn’t have immediately come up with pickle or beet juice as the alternative.

As it turns out, pickle brine, the wastewater from beet processing, and even beer wastewater are all effective in combating icy roads.

And that’s a good thing because we do know that too much salt is problematic in lots of ways, to us and to the surrounding land. In 2014, a U.S. Geological Survey found that 84% of U.S. streams in the northern part of the country had toxic levels of chloride. And road salt is sodium chloride. These levels peaked during the months when road salt is used. A lot of this salt also ends up in our lakes as it leeches through the land. These are big consequences that we’ll have to deal with soon, somehow. Just think about how well water is going to be affected.

According to Big Think, here’s how road salt works:

1. Salt attracts ice and snow molecules.
2. The salt break the bonds that hold together the ice and snow molecules.

3. This melts the snow, creating a brine consisting of salt and water.
4. The brine spreads, repeating the process as it moves over the road.

Beet wastewater can have the same effect. It contains sugar to lower the temperature of ice. However, the communities that have used it tend to dislike the smell – something it smells like soy sauce or stale coffee. Now, if it smelled like FRESH coffee, we’d be in business!

Pickle juice has some similar smell issues, but all of these alternatives (cheese brine is another) are less corrosive to cars as well.

Want to read more about the alternatives? Check out the source below – it’s pretty interesting to see how we may all use something different based on what’s available to us in our region.  – WTF fun facts

Source: “Why Pickle Brine On Icy Roads Could Be Smarter Than Salt” — Big Think