Beet Juice Might Be the Best Way to Keep Canada’s Roads Free of Ice

Road salt: footwear’s worst enemy.

But on top of being a major pest for your shoes, it’s also pretty terrible for the environment.

That’s why some towns in Quebec have started to test alternatives, and believe it or not, the frontrunner is beet juice. While that’s not any better news for your shoes, using beet juice to de-ice roads is an effective way to reduce environment impact.

Cowansville, Matagami, Laval and some municipalities on the Lower Saint Lawrence have been experimenting with a salt-beet juice mixture to cut down on the cost of snow removal services and their ecological footprint.

The sticky goo helps rock salt melt ice below its –9 C limit and keeps ice from bonding with road surfaces when sprayed before a storm.

“For the moment, it’s very conclusive. Especially in cold weather, we noticed a lot of positive effects, on dirt roads or gravel too,” said Cowansville infrastructure superintendent Sylvain Perreault. “A portion of the beet is given to the animals. The rest is used to deglaze roads.”

Toronto and Halifax are now considering pilot projects for the use of beet juice to de-ice roads as well. It’s estimated that using the mixture can reduce the use of salt by around 30 per cent.