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Several Wisconsin Towns Experimenting with Using Cheese Brine to Treat Icy Winter Roads

Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

Many municipalities in the state of Wisconsin are turning to their unofficial state food, cheese, to solve the problem of icy winter roads this winter. Places like Polk County (Amery, WI) are using a byproduct in the cheesemaking process to help treat roads and keep drivers safe.

The byproduct, called cheese brine, is a salty liquid that is a byproduct of the cheesemaking process. Until recent years, the cheese industry has been paying hefty sums of money to properly dispose of the leftover brine. That is, until road officials started using the brine to help keep road salt on the road.

Road officials in Wisconsin say that up to 30% of dry rock salt either bounces or blows off roads, leading to an expensive waste of salt. There are traditional salt brines available for road treatment to help keep salt on the roads, but they have a freezing point of -6 degrees, which isn’t uncommon to see on many deep-winter Wisconsin days. The cheese brine has a lower freezing point of -21 degrees, making it a more effective solution.

One concern that has popped up is that the cheese brine has a “unique smell”. The odor is described as smelling something like whey. While cheesy smelling roads may sound a little obnoxious, an individual in the report by The Modern Farmer was quoted as saying “I don’t really mind the odor. Our roads smell like Wisconsin!”

 

[Modern Farmer]

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