Road treatment recipe now includes magnesium chloride, even beet juice

Dan Weinbaum
November 27, 2018 - 4:23 am

Kansas Dept. of Transportation

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For decades, transportation departments and public works crews used a simple sand and salt mixture to treat road surfaces in the winter, but the science has changed.

The cutting edge in the Kansas City area now includes more liquid and a different chemical recipe.

"We use magnesium chloride with our salt, which activates salt and gets it working, as well as lowers the freezing point of the salt to run it down to lower temperatures," said Brian Hutchinson, a Snow Boss in Overland Park.

Some cities use beet juice, which works like magnesium chloride to lower the freezing point of the ice, and helps the salt stick to the road surface. The beet juice and salt mixture also creates a briny substance that keeps snow from sticking and ice from forming.

Temperatures in the single digits and low teens are so low, they allow ice to form, even with road chemicals in place.

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