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Beets In The Streets Help Fight Icy Roadways

Beet juice has made it into the road treatment arsenal of many transportation departments across the country is. And no, it doesn't stain the roads red.

snowy road with trees

Photo: Rgtmum (flickr)

The ultimate effect is that beet juice makes the salt stick to the roads longer, saving money and the cities' salt supplies.

Winter weather is wreaking havoc across the Midwest, with Minnesota getting dumped with upwards of 20 inches of snow over the weekend. While road crews can’t do much to stop the snow from falling, they can prepare the roads to bounce back quickly from snowy and icy conditions left by storms and sub-freezing temperatures.

Something that has made it into the road treatment arsenal of many transportation departments across the country is beet juice. Spraying salt with beet juice lowers the salt’s melting point, making it effective in colder temperatures. Calcium chloride gets the same result but is corrosive and causes damage to cars and streets.

The ultimate effect is that beet juice makes the salt stick to the roads longer, saving money and the cities’ salt supplies.

In Evansville, Indiana, they are using beet juice to treat the roads for the first time this year. They hadn’t tried it before because of the price, but this year beet juice was listed at a much cheaper rate — $1.95 a gallon compared with $1.49 for calcium chloride.

And don’t worry — beet juice won’t stain the streets red.

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Annie Corrigan

Annie Corrigan is a producer and announcer for WFIU. In addition to serving as the local voice for NPR's Morning Edition, she produces WFIU's weekly sustainable food program Earth Eats. She earned degrees in oboe performance from Indiana University and Bowling Green State University.

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