Using Less Salt to Melt Snow Using Organic Alternatives: Molasses or Beet Brine
Many municipalities are experimenting with including organic additives in their anti-icing and snow melting brine formulas. Two common options are molasses and beet brine.
Beet brine is more natural than conventional salt brines with a 20/80 ratio of sodium chloride (rock salt) to beet juice. Beet juice naturally contains its own sodium chloride (about 12%) but it doesn’t activate to melt ice on its own unless it is combined with a certain amount of salt brine.
- significantly reduce the amount of salt needed in a brine formula,
- are a natural rust inhibitor, and
- contain sugars that help the brine stick to road surfaces instead of washing away.
The City of Calgary has been conducting trials with beet brine since 2017.
Children everywhere are celebrating beets being used on roads instead of in their meals. But some drivers notice that it is a little more challenging to get road grime off a vehicle when beets are used.
An alternative to beet brine is molasses.
Molasses, when added to brine, acts as a stabilizer so that the salt and water in the brine do not separate. It allows better adhesion to pavement surfaces and is less corrosive to vehicles than salt. Molasses is less fibrous than beets and does not plug up equipment as much.
Plus, it smells like Grandma’s cookies when applied. Who doesn’t like that?
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Beet and molasses brines still need to be used properly since improper application can the opposite effect than what was intended. Applying at temperatures below -20°C or during windstorms can cause the liquid solution to freeze, making road and foot traffic surfaces icy.
At LECM, we add molasses to our brine to supercharge the effectiveness of our anti-icing solution without increasing its salt content.
What can you do?
You can decrease the negative environmental impact of your property by:
- using salt brines instead of rock salt on your property (find out more), and
- ensuring an organic additive is used in the salt brine to lower the salt content even more.
Questions? Let’s talk.