Toronto and several other Canadian cities have adopted a novel and environmentally friendly approach to attacking icy roads when temperatures plummet – beet juice.
Traditional de-icers like rock salt aren’t very effective at temperatures below – 20 C. About five years ago, the City of Toronto began to replace the salty brine that’s mixed with rock salt and spread on streets with sugar beet juice. The new concoction continues to work to at least – 30 C, long after rock salt has lost its effectiveness.
When the sugar is extracted from sugar beets, a molasses like substance that smells like soya sauce or burnt coffee is left over. Before its ice busting properties were recognized, it was dumped down the drain. The beet by product is environmentally friendly and non-toxic. In fact, you can drink it, but it doesn’t taste very good.
The beet juice extract isn’t cheap – it’s about five times more expensive than regular salt brine but it works longer and less has to be used on roads. Some municipalities estimate that beet juice has reduced their use of rock salt by up to 60%. That’s good news for the environment. Cities like Toronto only bring out the beet juice when it gets really cold. Even then, they don’t use it on all city streets. It’s used strategically at critical locations like hills and on bridges.
Beet juice also doesn’t damage concrete and metal like salt brine can, and it’s safe for plants.
Beet juice is not the only food by-product that’s being used to melt ice. Mozzarella cheese brine is being used in Wisconsin, and sugarcane molasses are used in Minnesota to help keep roads ice free.
If you have questions about keeping your sidewalks, driveways, or private roads and parking lots ice and snow free this winter, contact 5 Star Landscaping in Calgary.