The secret to de-icing roads: Beets and brine



Michigan State University uses sugar beet leftovers to aid in deicing roads. Photo: USDA. Retrieved from Wikimedia Commons.


Salt is the usual go-to agent for melting ice off of slippery roadways.

But not at Michigan State University — They use veggies instead.

For the first time last year, the school used GEOMELT a product made up of agricultural waste –  specifically sugar beet leftovers.

It’s considered by the university to be more environmentally friendly, longer lasting and less corrosive to equipment.

The beet stuff is used with brine — a salt water solution that’s sometimes used for pickling.

Each gallon of brine contains about 2.2 pounds of salt.

If you went the traditional route, just salt, the university says that deicing  a quarter-inch of ice on one road lane for a mile would take more than 8,000 pounds of salt.

It takes 60 gallons of brine to do the same thing. According to my math, that equals 132 pounds of salt to go with the brine-route.

So, the university saves 7,868 pounds of salt for each  mile of a road lane covered with a quarter-inch ice.

So what could you do with that extra 7,868 pounds of salt?

Well, that’s about 571,897 batches worth of cooking salt of Martha Stewart’s delicious soft and chewy chocolate cookies. Each batch makes about 36 cookies, so only about 20,588,292 cookies total. So, I hope you have a lot of friends to share them with.

Or how about 2,287,589 batches of the self-proclaimed “best blueberry muffins.” (That’s 411,76,602 of “regular-sized” muffins)

Phew. And that’s only one mile of one road lane with  a quarter-inch of ice!

Plus, studies show that deicing roads with salt is harmful to the environment.

So I say bring on the beets, because I really, really don’t like them anyway. And hey, I don’t like pickles or the solution they come in either. So, for me, it’s a win-win situation.

And I love cookies.

How did I work my magic math? The cooking calculator.

4 thoughts on “The secret to de-icing roads: Beets and brine

  1. Wow! This is really cool. It seems a promising way to de-ice the road without having much effect in the environment. But I just wonder if this is also an inexpensive means of de-icing.

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