The U.S. uses 20 million tons of salt to thaw its snowy streets every year, but when temperatures plummet below 15 degrees Fahrenheit, the old standby doesn’t work as well. Not only is salt less effective in extra chilly conditions, it also carries environmental costs. Chemicals from snow melted by the traditional road salt mixture can end up in nearby streams and rivers, harming aquatic life, ABC News reports.
The solution? Transportation crews from Fayetteville, Ark. to Toronto, Canada are experimenting with environmentally friendly sugar beet juice mixed with rock salt to melt ice and stop it from sticking to the pavement. The beet juice moistens the salt and leaves behind a sticky, heavy substance that clings to ice and snow. Despite the appearance of reddish brown streets and a smell similar to burnt coffee or soy sauce, the concoction is an effective de-icing agent. As Eco Solutions manager Antonio Vaccari told CTV Toronto, “It’s probably the only thing that will work.” And in case you’re wondering, the juiced ice is safe for consumption (though we wouldn’t recommend it).