So…what’s the brown goop Bismarck is spraying on city streets?

yuck_truck_33619I’m nothing if not curious. A friend once pointed that out as my defining quality. Naturally, I was intrigued when I came upon these trucks spraying what looks like motor oil (but clearly isn’t) all over the roads. I’ve seen it multiple times, and I have emailed Public Works to find out what it is. I’ll post their reply here.


yuck_truck_33623This is some ugly stuff, but certainly it must have a legitimate purpose. We don’t have some sinister Bond villain running the Public Works department. Friends and I have surmised that it may be to neutralize the salt applied to the roads over winter (don’t get me started on that).  They aren’t being followed by street sweepers, so it’s not like they’re doing a presoak or anything.

That reminds me.  Since I followed this truck in on Highway 10 and all the way up 26th, I’ve got some brown gunk to wash off my truck. Time to get some quarters…

2 thoughts on “So…what’s the brown goop Bismarck is spraying on city streets?

    • It’s beet juice brine, sort of a molasses made with road salt and beet juice. The idea is to apply it to the roads before a storm. It’s sticky, so it adheres to the road. When it gets wet, it “activates” and keeps ice from forming on the surface. It also has a lower effective temperature than simply putting calcium chloride on the roads.

      Of course, it’s still salt, so it’ll eat up cars and stuff. But it’ll stick to your car so it can do more damage.

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