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Battling icy roads, a Wisconsin county turns to cheese

Posted by: Tim Harlow Updated: January 24, 2014 - 1:03 PM

Leave it to our friends in Wisconsin to find a new use for cheese.

One county in the Badger state is using liquid cheese brine combined with traditional road salt in its effort to keep ice and snow from gaining a foothold on highways and byways. And it appears to be working.

Traditional chemicals lose their effectiveness when the mercury drops near zero, but Polk County Technical Support Manager Emil Norby said he mixed the concoction together and found it did not freeze until there were two consecutive nights of temperatures of 21 degrees below zero or lower.

"It seems to make it go down to a lower freeze point," Norby told NPR’s breaking news blog The Two Way.

The spray not only melts the snow and ice faster and at lower temperatures, it sticks to the roads rather than bouncing off as vehicles pass over it. On top of that, it saved the county thousands of dollars, Norby said.

The mixture also works on the olfactory nerves, Norby said.

"It has a slight odor when you handle the product," Norby said. "If you were behind a snow plow, you'd immediately smell it."

The winter of 2013-14 has challenged Departments of Transportation across the nation as unrelenting snow and cold has gripped the country. New York and Pennsylvania are trying sugar beet juice. Tennessee has turned to a substance called "Magic Salt" made from potato juice, according to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

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