Dear Tom,

Why do they add beet juice to the salt they put on the winter roads?

Elsieb Shim

Dear Elsieb,

That surprising de-icing compound is a reality and is being widely used in many areas including Chicago’s Department of Streets and Sanitation.  The sugar beet, similar to the common edible variety, contains juice that is widely used as a sweetener. Now, there is a novel use: as an environmentally friendly organic road de-icer and the reviews are highly favorable. That’s good news, considering the snowy winters across the Midwest. Conventional de-icing compounds lose their effectiveness at temperatures below 5-15 degrees, but a reformulation with the addition of de-sugared beet juice works well even at subzero readings. It’s harmless to plants and animals and your car’s finish. In tests, it has been sprayed on cars and allowed to dry and it washes right off.

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