From: Allison Winter, ENN
Published December 27, 2013 01:47 PM

Wisconsin Combats Icy Streets with ... Cheese?

We all know that Wisconsin is known for it's cheese, producing more cheese than any other state — in fact, 2.7 billion pounds were produced last year! But besides consumption, what are mid-westerners doing with all that cheese? Well, for one, Wisconsin is taking cheese to a whole new level by using it to melt their icy roads!

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Yes you read that correctly — in an effort to find cheaper and more environmentally friendly ways to thaw ice, America's Dairyland has turned to cheese.

Winter weather takes a toll on Wisconsin every year and keeping roads and sidewalks clear of snow and ice can not only be a daunting task, but it's expensive. So as a solution, areas of Wisconsin have started using cheese brine to de-ice roads.

The benefits are two fold as there are not only benefits to municipalities, but to the cheese-makers themselves.

During the cheese making process, cheese is salted in order to slow down the process of converting lactose to lactic acid. Cheese brine is the byproduct of making cheese, so afterwards, the brine that is used is often disposed of. Cheese-makers save time and money by hauling this waste to municipalities who in turn use it in place of rock salts.

So why cheese? Cheese itself contains high salt concentrations, so it has similar properties to salt. When salt is sprinkled on ice, the salt lowers the freezing point of the water. However, the benefit of using cheese brine as opposed to salt is that cheese brine may freeze at even lower temperatures. In addition, the cheese brine sticks better to the roads whereas dry salt is usually lost due to bounce and traffic.

However, there may also be some drawbacks like faint odors of cheese and rodent attraction.

It is still too early to tell whether the pilot program will be successful, especially when it comes to transporting and storing the brine, but we should still give credit to the resourcefulness of using this byproduct as a de-icer.

Read more at Discovery News.

Cheese image via Shutterstock.

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