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Beet Juice Is Helping Keep Canadian Municipalities Ice-Free

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An organic alternative to road salt is helping Canadian municipalities keep their streets ice-free — and smelling kind of sweet.

Cowansville, Que. is just the latest municipality to turn to beet juice, reports CBC News.

The town says mixing the sticky juice with regular road salt reduces the salt's environmental impact and saves money.

"A portion of the beet is given to the animals. The rest is used to deglaze roads," Sylvain Perreault, Cowansville's infrastructure superintendent, told CBC.

beet juice
Toronto's city crews fill tanks on salt trucks with an organic solution that contains beet juice on Jan. 6, 2015. (Photo: Randy Risling/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Other municipalities like Williams Lake in northern B.C. have been using Beet 55, a mixture of saline, sugar and beets.

Beet 55 is sprayed on roads before snow arrives. It lowers the temperature required for rock salt to melt ice, and can last for two to five days — meaning it can last through multiple snowstorms.

The city's municipal director told The Globe and Mail in 2014 that he's pleased with how the product has worked so far — and its odd, but pleasant, side effect.

“It does have a smell to it. It’s kind of like caramel. It smells like a Tootsie Roll,” said Kevin Goldfuss.

beet juice
Washington, D.C., uses a mix of salt brine and beet juice to melt ice and snow. (Photo: Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Canadian municipalities including Toronto have also used the organic material in lieu of traditional road salt.

A similar product, Beet Heet, is seeing massive success in the U.S.

So far this year, the company has sold nearly 5.7 million litres, reported Time Magazine.

CORRECTION - Jan. 10, 2017: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Saint John, N.B., uses beet juice to de-ice its roads.

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