Short on Salt, Towns Turn to Molasses

As salt costs double, alternative deicers hit the pavement
By Clay Dillow,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 2, 2009 8:45 AM CST
A man attempts to drive his car through an icy patch of street during a winter snowstorm in 2006 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – With the weather outside frightful and rock-salt prices spiking, communities across the country are experimenting with new concoctions for melting snow and ice on roadways, the Wall Street Journal reports, adding molasses, ash, and garlic salt to deicers. The price of salt generally surges after the New Year as communities shore up stockpiles, but last winter strained supplies so much that prices have more than doubled this year.

Some states are employing on-board computers that, based on air and ground temperatures, tell salt-truck drivers how much to sprinkle. But others are tinkering with the mixture itself, mixing salt with gritty, non-toxic ash from coal-fired power plants, tons of garlic salt being trashed by a spice maker, and de-sugared molasses. One Illinois community is even mixing in a rum-making byproduct that smells like soy sauce, an additive that has very successfully stretched its salt supply.