Crews at the University of Iowa will test a new product this winter they hope will do a better job of melting ice on campus walkways.
“Pro Melt” is a mixture of regular rock salt and a byproduct that’s left behind when sugar beets are processed.
“This material is just slightly brown and it’s not bright red. We doubt that it will cause any sort of tracking or staining issues,” says Liz Christiansen, director of the University of Iowa Office of Sustainability. “And it will be interesting to see how it works on our sidewalks and our steps this winter.”
Christiansen says the two ingredients combine to melt ice at a lower temperature. And, unlike salt, the mixture is slightly tacky.
“It stays where it’s placed and so it will become effective more quickly and will stay in place rather than moving off perhaps into the vegetation into the nearby grass where it can damage the vegetation,” Christiansen says.
Since the product sticks to the surface better, it won’t have to be mixed with sand, which should cut down on the amount of grime tracked into campus buildings. Crews hope to reduce the amount of salt on campus sidewalks and steps by as much as 30 percent. Christiansen says that should reduce corrosion of the concrete, too.
University of Iowa landscape crews will continue to use salt and sand on roads and on some of the heavily-traveled areas of the Iowa City campus this winter.