Cities are using beets and food additives to cut down on road salt consumption

What do beet molasses, cheese brine, and pickle juice have in common? They’re all contending to be the next best substitute for humble road salt, reports Bloomberg. For decades, cities and people have liberally applied salt to streets and sidewalks to get rid of ice, but it’s been found to pollute waterways and pose a threat to wildlife (animals like deer love the taste, which puts them at the risk of getting hit by traffic). Now, some cities across the country are experimenting with food-based additives that could reduce the amount of road salt needed per application and bring down costs. The jury is still out on what environmental effects these beet-, pickle-, and cheese-derived byproducts themselves might cause. In the meantime, some jurisdictions are focusing instead on a different tried and true method: telling people to just use less salt in the first place. —Jessica Fu

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