Beet brine used to tackle icy roads in Sylvan Lake

Beet and salt brine mixture proven effective at reducing ice at problem spots

Sylvan Lake is among a growing number of Canadian communities using beet brine to battle icy roads.

The town first got a taste of beet brine several years ago as part of a pilot project. Results were promising enough that the mix of salty water and sugar beet brine is back for a fourth year.

Adding beet brine to road mixtures means less corrosive salt is needed, which is good news for vehicle owners. Beet brine is a rust inhibitor, while salt, as Canadian drivers are well aware, eats away at vehicles.

Town operations manager John Watson said the mix of two-thirds salt brine and one-third beet brine is used as a “wetting agent” ahead of snowfalls at problem areas such as intersections and school zones.

The mixture raises the melting point of ice and interacts with sand, giving vehicles better traction, Watson said.

While the beet brine is not quite as effective as salt, it allows the town to use less salt while still getting good results down to nearly -20 C.

While the mixture goes on roads as a molasses-like brown liquid, it doesn’t stain the way typical deep purple table beets do.

The town drew attention to its beet brine on its Facebook page this week.

Snow clearing has been enough of an issue in Sylvan Lake that council was prompted to pass a new policy Monday that will see residential roads plowed sooner.

The changes were proposed after the town surveyed residents last spring and found nearly half of the 85 respondents were dissatisfied with local snow and ice control efforts. Residential roads were singled out as a problem in about one-third of the responses.

Under the new policy, all residential and minor connector roads are lumped into one category, and the amount of snow that can accumulate in a single storm before the plows are sent out has been reduced to 45 centimetres from 50.

That change will see residential roads plowed twice, instead of once, in a typical winter. It costs $60,000 per residential plow and about $155,000 to do the entire town.

Since the new category, which includes just over half of the town’s roads, is bigger than previous ones, the threshold to have plowing complete was increased to 16 days from 14.

Calgary has also been impressed by the benefits of beet brine, greatly increasing the amount it uses in recent years.

City of Red Deer public works crews use a mixture of sand with minimal salt on icy roads when temperatures are between zero and about -12 C.

Another product called Road Guard is applied to icy streets when the air temperature is between -12 and -20 C.



pcowley@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Hub on Ross has announced it has permanently closed. (Photo courtesy The Hub on Ross Facebook page)
The Hub on Ross in Red Deer to permanently close

The Hub on Ross in Red Deer permanently closed on Wednesday. “The… Continue reading

There were 410 COVID-19 cases recorded in Alberta Wednesday. (File photo)
Alberta records 410 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday

Central zone dropped to 160 active cases

Shaun Isaac, owner of Woodchucker Firewood in Trochu, is awaiting a new shipment during a firewood shortage in the province. All of the wood he has left is being saved for long-time customers who need it to heat their homes. (Contributed photo).
Firewood shortage in central Alberta caused by rising demand, gaps in supply

‘I’ve said “No” to more people than ever’: firewood seller

The Red Deer Senior Citizens Downtown House reopened earlier this month, after closing in March due to the pandemic. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Red Deer Senior Citizens Downtown House reopens

The Red Deer Senior Citizens Downtown House was closed for months due… Continue reading

Guy Pelletier, vice-president of the Red Deer region for Melcor Developments. (Contributed photo).
Melcor has to redesign new neighbourhood after Molly Banister decision

City council disagreed with administration’s recommendation to scrap road plans

Alice Kolisnyk, deputy director of the Red Deer Food Bank, says the agency expects an increase in demand as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Every new subscription to the Red Deer Advocate includes a $50 donation to the food bank. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Support the food bank with a subscription to the Red Deer Advocate

The community’s most vulnerable members are always in need of a hand,… Continue reading

Children's backpacks and shoes are seen at a daycare in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. Alberta Children’s Services Minister Rebecca Schulz says the province plans to bring in a new way of licensing and monitoring child-care facilities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Alberta proposes legislation to change rules on child-care spaces

Alberta proposes legislation to change rules on child-care spaces

Conservative leader Erin O'Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday October 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Conversion therapy ban gets approval in principle, exposes Conservative divisions

Conversion therapy ban gets approval in principle, exposes Conservative divisions

Sierra Robinson, shown in this recent handout image, 18, is one of 15 young Canadians who asked a Federal Court judge to compel Canada to come up with a climate-change recovery plan. The judge rejected their claims and the case will not proceed to trial but lawyers for the youths say they'll appeal the ruling. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Lena Fountain *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Judge rejects youths’ lawsuit that asks Canada to develop climate recovery plan

Judge rejects youths’ lawsuit that asks Canada to develop climate recovery plan

Members of the Canadian Armed Forces march during the Calgary Stampede parade in Calgary, Friday, July 8, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Culture becomes latest front in military’s fight against sexual misconduct

Culture becomes latest front in military’s fight against sexual misconduct

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
COVID-19 death rates higher in neighbourhoods with more visible minorities: StatCan

COVID-19 death rates higher in neighbourhoods with more visible minorities: StatCan

Chris Touchet works to repair H & H Tire in Jennings, La., after Hurricane Delta passed the area Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020. The day after Hurricane Delta blew through besieged southern Louisiana, residents started the routine again: dodging overturned cars on the roads, trudging through knee-deep water to flooded homes with ruined floors and no power, and pledging to rebuild after the storm. (Scott Clause /The Daily Advertiser via AP)
Hurricane Zeta hits Louisiana with flooding, power outages

Hurricane Zeta hits Louisiana with flooding, power outages

In this image provided by Apple TV+, Rene Otero appears in a scene from "Boys State." The election has unleashed an avalanche of documentaries like no season before it. Dozens of films, exploring issues from gerrymandering to white supremacists, have sought to illuminate the many issues and trends voters are confronting at the polls on Tuesday. In a presidential election of enormous stakes, filmmakers have rushed to finish their films before Election Day. (Apple TV+ via AP)
Ahead of the election, a landslide of documentaries

Ahead of the election, a landslide of documentaries

Most Read