Cities across the country have been adding unique materials like beet juice, beer waste and pickle brine to the salt they dump on icy roads in the winter, helping the salt to stick to the road and sidewalk better.
More than 20 million tons of salt are deposited on roads and sidewalks each year in the U.S., but that salt can often get washed into bodies of water, where it can dangerously increase salinity and otherwise harm the environment Salt can also corrode cars and pipes during the winter, causing additional damages.
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These types of liquefied organic additives both help the salt stick to the pavement better so that less washes into rivers and lakes, and also increase the capacity for the salt to melt ice. That means less salt is needed over the course of a winter.
So far, municipalities in New Jersey and North Dakota have experimented with adding beet juice. A county in Wisconsin (a state known for its cheese production) has started using cheese brine, a salty byproduct of making cheese, to line its roads in advance of big snowstorms.
All of these solutions help reduce the amount of road salt municipalities need to make driving safe.