Beet the ice

The corrosive and chemical qualities of road salt may prevent slippage, but it’s not so easy on the environment (See Green, Dec. 20, 2007). Now, departments of transportation across the Midwest are trying an interesting mode of deicing: sugar beet juice.

The gooey, molasses-like product is called GeoMelt 55, and it’s basically de-sugared beet juice with organic additives. Mixed with road salt or liquid brine, it doesn’t completely take away the need for the corrosive stuff, but less is required. It also melts ice and snow once it’s on the road, freezes at a lower temperature than salt—down to -30F degrees, according to its manufacturer—and reduces salt’s corrosive properties. Made by Univar, the beet deicer is a byproduct of sugar production. It’s not yet available for homeowners.