Icy Roads? Beet Juice Just the Right Tonic

New mixture cuts salt, works colder, but side effects still unknown
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 14, 2008 6:46 PM CDT
Icy roads are being attacked with a new weapon: the sugar beet.   (AP Photo/Raytheon Antarctic Services, Allen Delaney, HO)
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(Newser) – Road workers in the Chicago area are shaking up their winter ice-busting cocktail with an odd new mixer: beet juice. Sanitation officials are pleased with the combination, which reduces the necessary rock salt (harmful to plants and water supplies) by up to 30% and is effective at temperatures far lower than salt alone, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Runoff from de-iced roads is a problem in the area, damaging plants and radically increasing salt levels in waterways. Even so, environmentalists are wary of the reduced-salt mixtures, which “may have new, as well as unknown, effects of their own.” Another wrinkle: Beet juice ups the price of de-icing compounds, and may cause “some sort of film on windshields.”