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Diatribe: Keeping Ice Off The Roads With Cheese.

01/03/2014

CheeseBrineThis week, a majority of the U.S. is experiencing extreme cold and wintry weather.  My area was hit today by a temperature drop of almost forty degrees in less than an hour.  In anticipation of a “wintry mix”, local road crews coated major highways with a brine mixture intended to minimize the possibility of ice coating the roads.  The use of brine is common in the area but it only seems to work when the temperature hovers around the freezing mark.  When it gets extremely cold, it becomes relatively ineffective.  Regardless of the temperature or the presence of lack of snow, the brine makes a mess of one’s automobile.

In other areas of the country, local municipalities use many methods of snow removal and ice prevention to keep area highways and roads safe for automobile traffic.  One of the most unusual methods that I’ve ever heard of happens in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin considers itself the dairy state but it actually ranks number two in production behind California.  If you’re planning on making a trip through the state any time soon, don’t be surprised if you smell cheese on the highway … the roads could be covered in it.  Apparently, cheese works as a de-icer and, thanks to a pilot program launched this month, the state will soon start using it on their roads.

“You want to use provolone or mozzarella.  Those have the best salt content.  You have to do practically nothing to it.” – Jeffrey A. Tews, fleet operations manager for public works department.

Actually, the use of cheese brine in keeping the roads safe is not new.  At least one small midwest county has been testing the use of cheese with donated excess liquids from a local dairy company.  The county saves quite a bit of money in hauling and disposal costs in addition to the savings in rock salt costs.

While it remains to be seen if there is truly any downside to the use of cheese as a road de-icer, I certainly don’t want to pull my car into my garage with a coating of cheese on it.  A coating of brine is bad enough … but at least it doesn’t smell.

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9 Comments
  1. I guess anything that melts salt is bad for your car. The article talks about cost but what is the environmental impact? How will putting a food product benefit/hurt wildlife and insect production? I wonder if in come spring/summer you’ll be writing a diatribe about an explosion in insect population from de-icing the roads with cheese byproduct.

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  2. I hate salt on my car too, but the damage from salt on my car is far less than the damage that would occur if I had an accident from slipping on ice.

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    • You’re absolutely right! My biggest complaint is that they spray brine all over town when there MIGHT be bad weather in the forecast. I wish they’d spend the salt money on a few snow plows that could be used when it actually snows.

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  3. Well, if we go out with some Prego and pasta, we can have a road feast. Drive safely.

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  4. thedogs'mother permalink

    One year Seattle decided to stop treating the roads.
    They did not want all the salt to run downhill and into the
    bay. So they ended up with cars running down the hill
    and launching themselves into the bay (so to speak). It
    was a disaster and not repeated.

    Like

  5. I like the idea of using brine… but ACTUAL cheese? That sounds…. silly. I can’t….. no. Not a good idea, I think.

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  6. In small areas, like your sidewalks or front steps, kitty litter works great at keeping the surface from becoming too slippery. And it’s better for your lawn than salt!

    Like

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