Vodka and Beets May Replace Rock Salt on Icy Roadways

If this winter is anything like the last, roads and highways will be formidably icy. Removal typically requires 10 to 20 million tons of road salt, often resulting in infrastructural damage (salt is known for its pot-hole forming powers), and which threatens to contaminate water supplies. Researchers are currently exploring alternatives, the more tantalizing of which involves vodka and beets MUNCHIES reports.

One newer-to-the-market blend of vodka byproduct, magnesium chloride and salt, Ice B’Gone, claims that it reduces the need for rock salt (though doesn’t negate it), is effective at colder temperatures and even neutralizes rust. Brines from beets, pickles and cheese have also been explored, with beet juice in particular increasing the adhesive power of the salt, and requiring less over the course of a winter.

This represents a trend in reevaluating natural resources and how fermented grains and vegetables can extend beyond a gastronomical realm including composting, energy creation and, of course, melting ice. This may also mark a moment to reevaluate vodka—renowned for its warming effects, which has proven problematic in Russia’s drinking culture—and its usefulness in winter. [Munchies] [Image: Flickr/Bernd Zimmermann]