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It’s been quite a winter here in the Northeast. Despite the recent wintery conditions, the vast majority of us still have to venture outside and drive. Lucky for us, there’s miraculous chemical reaction that salt has on ice. Lately though, the negative impact of using all this salt has begun to show up. Salt does wonders for us transportation-wise, but there are far more eco-friendly alternatives which can kick salt’s butt.

When I hear the word sand, I see palm trees, blue water and tan bodies. Oddly though during these bitter months I’ve been associating sand with none other than road de-icing. Better than beaches right? Well, maybe not, but compared to our old fashion way of de-icing roads with salt, using sand can not only remind us of warm summer months but it’s much healthier for our environment.

Though sand does not melt ice, it provides traction to make driving less slippery. Unlike salt, sand has rarely been found polluting our water supplies, changing the soil composition that then kills off plants and trees, or gnawing away cars, sidewalks, bridges and other structures.

Strange as it may sound, beet juice and left over distilled alcohol (such as rum and vodka) are two other alternatives out there to de-ice roads. Mixed properly and added with minimal amounts of salt, these strange concoctions can help melt away ice and snow just like salt but are completely biodegradable and environmentally friendly. Products such as Magic Salt and GEOMELT have became popular on many large college campuses in northern areas.

Clearly there are plenty of options to help our winter road problems. Options that won’t harm our water supply, harm vegetation, tarnish our buildings and structures or cause other harmful environmental problems. If college campuses are already making the switch, why can’t cities and towns?