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Wisconsin fights frozen streets with leftover cheese brine

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Salt for deicing roads is expensive, so the state of Wisconsin is employing a new trick to fight slicks. This month the state began a new test program that uses brine from cheesemaking, an industry it topped in the US last year. The process of manufacturing cheese results in lots of leftover saltwater, which under the program is now being mixed into a spray that thaws out winter roads and keeps cars moving, reports The New York Times.

Extra brine would be thrown out

The trial comes on the heels of numerous experiments with other materials, including methods that used beet juice mixtures and leftovers from brewing beer. All of that's in hopes of trimming costs, which can top $10 million a year for trucks full of rock salt. In this case, the salt in question has already been procured for another task — making cheese — and would have normally been sent to waste treatment facilities afterwards. In the future it could simply end up on roads instead.

The idea was a carryover from a smaller county within Wisconsin, though it's also been used in other states like Washington with some success. As for the brine itself, apparently roads have their cheese preferences as well: provolone or mozzarella are said to offer the best salt-to-water ratio.