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December 30, 2013 AT 3:00 pm

Pouring Cheese on Icy Roads in (Where Else?) Wisconsin

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The New York Times has a bizarre story out of Wisconsin about replacing traditional rock salt with cheese as a means of melting ice on roads. The weird part is how much sense it makes!

In a state whose license plates advertise it as America’s Dairyland, where lawmakers once honored the bacterium in Monterey Jack as the state’s official microbe and where otherwise sober citizens wear foam cheesehead hats, road crews are trying to thaw freezing Wisconsin streets with a material that smells a little like mozzarella.

This month, Milwaukee began a pilot program to repurpose cheese brine for use in keeping city roads from freezing, mixing the dairy waste with traditional rock salt as a way to trim costs and ease pollution.

Last year, with only 28 inches of snow, Milwaukee used 44,000 tons of salt and spent almost $6.5 million on snow and ice management. The year before, the costs surpassed $10 million.

It is, perhaps, too soon to tell how much cheese brine would alter that outlay. The pilot program will cost Milwaukee about $6,500 — mostly for transporting and storing a small batch of brine. A full report is expected in the spring.

Read more.


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