New Jersey County Salts Roads With Pickle Juice

Public domain Dept. of Health and Human Services photo.

…commenters on the story turn out to be (wait for it!)…douchebags.

If, like me, you’re still anxiously glued to the news about Egypt, perhaps a little diversion into weird news will allay your anxieties. Or will it?

Bergen County, New Jersey, has run out of money to salt the roads during this exceptionally severe winter. Their solution? Using pickle juice, which runs about $16 a ton, cheaper than the $63 a ton of road salt costs them.

For those of you living in warm climes who have never heard that satisfying crunch beneath your tires, salt helps melt snow because salt water freezes at a lower temperature than fresh water. The science of it is pretty interesting if you’re a complete dw33b, like say yours truly. Calcium chloride is preferred to sodium chloride (table salt, or pickle juice) because calcium chloride releases heat when it combines with water — voila! It melts more snow. Calcium chloride also does less environmental damage. But sodium chloride was used for years, and will do in a pinch — even if it’s in pickle juice.

Sounds simple, right? Great idea, right? Something we can all agree on, right? Wrong.

One incensed commenter on the CBS story had this to say:

I think one of you NJ folks will soon figure out that salt on roads eventually pollutes streams, will definitely cause roads to deteriorate and when pushed to the sides of the road with the snow creates SALT LICKS for deer along the road shoulders. Ever wonder why deer are so close to roads. After deer become habituated to passing cars they get hit trying to cross the road. Salt is a very, very, expensive way to keep our roads safe. Plow and sand.

Wow. I guess it’s time to get uppity! Or maybe is it ALWAYS time to get uppity?

Also, “Joe in Cleveland” claims that his town is even more disadvantaged than their New Jersey brethren:

In Cincinnati we’re so cash strapped we can’t even afford pickle juice…We’re using BEET JUICE–you can’t make this stuff up!!!!

Joe turns out to be right — you can’t, or at least in this case he didn’t. A 2008 Associated Press story describes a pilot program to use, yup, beet juice to salt the roads in Cincinnati. Beets are pickled in a brine solution just like pickles (i.e., cucumbers) and every other form of pickled vegetable, which you can enjoy in vast quantities if you know any Germans.

However, as with most utterly inoffensive postings on, you know, teh w3b, this one attracts teh INTERNUTS. Milly (aka “unclear on the concept”) says:

this is the best article I have read in a really long time. All you readers are stuck in a snow storm, with nothing to do……so you are spending HOURS trying to figure out the cost of a ton of pickle juice relative to the cost of a ton of salt. Priceless.

…proving that at least some people who comment on stories on the internets are, you know, STUPID. (What the hell is the Commissioner of Road Salting supposed to do, Milly, other than figure out how the hell to salt the most roads at the lowest cost?)

Then, of course, there are the vitriolic, foaming-at-the-mouth attacks on Obama, which seem to crop up the time people on the interwebs comment on anything. This particular story has a boatload of them, all with only the most tenuous connection to the topic. Who the hell are these people!!!???!!!???

And who the hell am I, that I can never remember not to read comments on newspaper stories?

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