Wisconsin has a cheesy solution for de-icing roads. Literally.

December 26, 2013

Yum. (grongar)

Imagine Milwaukee, blanketed in provolone. The city hasn't rolled it out at quite that level yet, but in a bit of budgetary creativity, officials have begun mixing salty cheese brine with the materials used to keep roads clear during snowstorms.

Traditional road salt is pretty costly — Milwaukee last year spent more than $6 million on 44,000 tons of the stuff, according to the New York Times. When it melts, it can create runoff that pollutes the environment. What doesn't dissolve gets thrown off the roads as cars zip along.

To help control those problems, the city is involved in a $6,500 pilot project that mixes eight gallons of cheese producers' leftover wastewater for every ton of rock salt. The natural salts in the brine help break down the ice and snow, just like the ordinary kind. Brine from provolone and mozzarella are especially prized because they don't need much preparation before being laid on the roads, a city public works official tells the Times.

If the thought of driving along on cheesy roadways makes you uncomfortable, it might help to know that residents haven't noticed much if any smells emanating from the pavement. As for me, it's just making me hungry.

Brian Fung covers technology for The Washington Post.
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Brian Fung | December 26, 2013