Most of us like some salt on our food and those of us from northern climes spread it on our roads as well. When salt is applied to ice on roads it melts the ice. Higher concentrations of salt will cause the ice to melt at lower temperatures, for example. A 10% salt solution freezes at 20 F and a 20% solution freezes at 2 F. This means that if you add salt to ice you melt it. The salt dissolves into the ice and lowers its freezing point. Spreading salt makes driving safer. But, there’s always a but, what happens to the salt when the snow and ice melt in the Spring? It runs off into the water shed and changes the salinity in our streams, rivers, ponds and lakes. Some of it eventually makes its way to the oceans. Funny thing about salt in ancient times the land of conquered enemies was salted to prevent them from growing crops. The salt persisted for many years before it was washed away enough to allow the crops to grow once again. Studies in states that use salt on their roads find that native plants are killed along side the roadways for up to 500 feet and are replaced by salt tolerant species, some of them invasive. The increased Sodium in the surrounding water sheds has negative impacts on amphibians, insects and larval fish to name a few.Knowing these negative impacts of salt on the environment, but its positive effects on driving, what is to be done to keep driving safe and reduce salt’s impact on the environment?Snow states are starting to apply coatings of beet juice, molasses and in Wisconsin cheese brine – this is true – to their roads. What would you expect from the land of ‘Cheese Heads’?For you bean counters with your spreadsheet mentality it also saves money by reducing the amount of salt used by 30%. The cheese brine free! The beet juice mixed with calcium chloride is applied before a snow storm and it prevents ice from adhering to the pavement. Molasses provides a sticky surface to hold the salt on the road. Did you know that salt bounces? A significant amount of the salt applied to roads simply bounces off the surface as it’s applied.Using these alternative methods can reduce man’s impact on the environment while still providing for safe driving.
Think Local – Act Global!