Dan Shephard runs The Snowmen snow removal service, and is a wrench welding tinkerer that owns and operates at least two other green businesses near Pickering Ontario. I say 'at least' because its hard to keep track of Dan's many projects and patents pending...
Mr. Shephard is a self proclaimed Green Dabbler, which means he'll never stop messing around with green machines and mixtures. Other business interests include a sustainable grass cutting service called Ecotcut fueled by solar power. Dan is an expert in solar panels and batteries and he pioneers design in a portable solar power generator custom build shop in Oshawa Ontario.
Dan is famous all over Eastern Ontario for a few different things, and now he's making headlines again by being among the first proprietors in the province to use a new all-natural deicer called GeoMelt. This reddish brown substance is almost pure beetroot juice. Dan mixes the solution with rocksalt and water to make a brown slush with a very low freezing temperature.Snow Removal Service Uses Beetroot Juice as Natural Deicer reminds us that using the red liquid as a natural deicer is not altogether a totally new idea. This article claims it was a pig farmer that first noticed his vegetable mash pig feed didn't freeze when it was mixed with beetroot juice, but another account of the discovery myth claims a farmer dumped rotten beets into a nearby pond and was perplexed when the waterscape never froze in the wintertime. Regardless of its origins, the low freezing temperature makes the juice an attractive vegetable extract with many industrial uses. Listed among its many scientific properties is the fact that fresh squeezed beetroot juice freezes at about minus 30°Celsius.
Spraying salt brine and beetroot juice on asphalt and concrete surfaces like sidewalks, driveways and streets will make them safer by melting slippery snow and ice, but also the watery runoff should be safer for the ecology of the immediate area. Once a roadway or parking lot has been treated with this molasses smelling mixture, the falling snow and ice should melt on contact with the 'wet' surface.The frozen water particles are excited by the mixture, on a molecular level, and do not freeze into slippery ice patches.
Why Salt Sucks For Snow Removal?
Road salt is toxic stuff. The NaCl compound poisons the environment beside the traveled areas and beyond. Salt water run off negatively affects freshwater fish, and retards the growth of their food sources which in turn starves aquatic creatures out of their natural habitats and turns our rivers and lakes into lifeless bodies of water.
On land, sodium chloride molecules are very corrosive and road salt damages concrete and rusts most metals. Every knows that antique car bodies in the southern United States always age better in the absence of road salt.
The United States and China continue to dominate the world's salt production, and together account for over 40% of the quarter billion tons mined each year. Over half of all salt mined in the United States is used as a deicer. The high levels of salt on roads in 'lake affect' weather areas can negatively impact agriculture.
Fruit growers in Ontario's Niagara region have observed, after three years of using sugar beet juice with brine that sensitive vines and trees close to roads have less salt damage in the spring. Experts predict that a reduction in the total salt on the roads in northern climate areas might lead to a delay in rust damage to cars.
Environmental groups are expected to observe and measure the toxicity levels of creeks collecting the spring run off to see how beetroot juice impacts the ecosystem.
GeoMelt is a Canadian company and although their beetroot juice deicer solution is produced locally, the substance is still a rather expensive liquid to be spraying away just to melt frozen ground. But because preliminary testing shows that using the application means using 33% less rock salt, most snow plow operators with salters behind their plows believe using GeoMelt will save money in the long run.
For all the right reasons, Dan Shephard has commited The Snowmen to trying the innovative new deicer solution this upcoming winter season, and he pledges to make his observtions and the data regarding the impact of beetroot juice on the environment public on the company website next year - Fuel Ghoul will be waiting with beeted breath.