MOUNDS, IL (KFVS) - A southern Illinois company is manufacturing a new product made from organic beets and salt water to tackle winter's icy roads.
Environmental Remediation & Recovery in Mounds, Illinois manufactures and distributes mixtures for Iowa-based Smith Fertilizer and Grain, who invented the product called "BEET 55."
ER&R began making and distributing the product in 2013 and sold roughly 60,000 gallons to cities in Missouri, according to President and CEO of ER&R, Eddie Doss.
The rising cost of traditional rock salt has made this new mixture quickly catch on, Doss said. The price of traditional rock salt has more than doubled from 2013 to 2014.
Experts say last year's harsh winter is to blame for the rising cost and high demand of traditional rock salt.
As of November 2014, ER&R has sold more than 300,000 gallons of the beet juice mixture to more than a dozen cities in Missouri, Kentucky and Arkansas.
Doss said he expects to sell some 1.2 million gallons by the end of the winter season.
Doss says the mixture can be used in a wide variety of ways -- from public roads and parking lots to airport runways.
"A lot of far reaching uses that this can be applied," Doss said.
ER&R can make nearly 10,000 gallons of the mixture every two hours.
Doss says it would cost about $500 to convert a plow truck, to be able to dispense the liquid mixture.
The beet juice mixture costs one-third the price of what traditional rock salt costs and can last two to three times longer, Doss said.
Unlike traditional rock salt that is thrown from the street when snow plows run through, Doss says, after the mixture is applied to asphalt it sticks and can stay there for up to two weeks until being washed away by water.
The thick mixture is made from organic beets and calcium chloride or salt. It resembles a dark roast coffee.
The beet juice is brought to Southern Illinois by train from Minnesota.
Doss says the product can also be used during the summer time to control dust. He says coal mines have ordered the mixture, and it could also be used by customers with gravel driveways.