Can Pickle Brine Dill-iver Us from Slippery Roads?

Pickle brine may be an effective, environmentally friendly alternative to rock salt as roadway ice melt.

Photo by: Photographer:Marek walica

Photographer:Marek walica

You get to the bottom of the jar of pickles and what do you do with the brine left in the jar? Yeah, you pour it down the drain and maybe think to yourself, what a waste. Because what else are you going to use it for?

Turns out, pickle brine may not be quite as useless as most of us probably thought. It may be an effective, environmentally friendly alternative to rock salt as roadway ice melt.

The rock salt ice melt we know and love — it makes our roads, sidewalks and staircases safe for passage in a snowstorm, dramatically reducing collisions — is also infiltrating our lakes, rivers and streams, damaging the water we drink and swim in and also the aquatic life that lives in it. It also erodes cars and concrete (not to mention wreaking havoc on our fabulous winter boots that were pricey even on sale).

Pickle brine, meanwhile, melts ice at a temperature similar to, if not lower than, rock salt and has other advantages. If you pre-wet pavements with it, it keeps the snow and ice from bonding to it, making the ice easier to chip away and remove, National Geographic has noted. Plus pickle brine releases 14 to 29 percent less chloride into the environment than rock salt does.

New Jersey turned to pickle brine to get itself out of a pickle when a shipment of rock salt was held up during a snowstorm in winter 2014. And while there were complaints about the smell, it was apparently effective.

Cheese brine (water from provolone is reportedly best) and sugar beet juice are also potential rock salt alternatives. But hey, most of us don’t have either of those sitting around in our fridges.

Next snowstorm, could be interesting to put some pickle brine in a spray bottle and go at the front steps, just to see what happens. (Never mind the aroma.) Who knows? Maybe it will be our dill-iverance from snowy slips and slides.

Photo: iStock

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