Is beet juice the answer to safer roads in icy weather?

The State of New York thinks beets might be the answer to their icy roads, planning to pour some 50,000 gallons of the juice on state roads to help stop dangerous road conditions from forming.

It's really hard not to want to make some connection to The Office's Dwight Schrute — beet farmer and creator of some pretty crazy schemes. In this case, it is a completely legit plan.

Beet juice, it turns out, has a lot going for it as a method for de-icing roads. It has a property, that when combined with a less salty brine helps de-ice and even delay icing. The mix of the two helps prevent ice from forming by lowering the freezing temperature of the roads.

From a state and local government point of view it's hard not to see how beet juice is a winter boon. Because it's not just a de-icer, but also prevents ice it can be spread on roads before bad weather hits — and that means less overtime for road crews and safer roads for residents.

Then there is the fact the beet/brine mix is less corrosive and toxic than the pure salt that is commonly spread on roads. That means equipment stands up longer, the roads aren't subject to heavily corrosive salt that contributes to trashed highways, and the run off is much less harmful to the environment than pure salt.

The brownish beet/brine is also considered a "green" solution as the beet juice is an already existing natural by product of beet processing. Plus, under the right conditions, it does the job of de-icing so successfully often another application isn't needed.

Flaws? Tests that reach back as far as 2008 from smaller localities in Ohio and Iowa report that it works better that regular salt in relatively warmer areas — so those in deep freeze conditions in Northern New York might not be seeing the beet brine on their roads. As for the brownish color of beet brine and what it might do to those lighter colored cars — not a peep was reported on whether it tints cars so that's likely not an issue.

Overall it seems that under the right conditions the beet brine helps save the environment from the use of extra, corrosive salt. We'll see how the mighty beet fares against the Big Apple as it's put through its paces on the New York Thruway this winter.

Gothamist, via Inabitat, USA Today

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