Vodka, rum may soon cover Cresson streets

CRESSON — Typically, the mixture of rum, vodka and roadways is a dangerous combination, but in Cresson Borough, remnants of the distilling process could help motorists stay safe this winter.

At a Monday Borough Council meeting, members heard from Clinton Smith, with Smith Lawn Service in Ebensburg.

The landscaper was there selling an ice prevention product called Ice B’ Gone Magic.

The product, which is largely comprised of what is left over after distilled vodka and rum are bottled, is sprayed onto existing salt supplies.

“What’s beneficial out of this is the sugars,” Smith said.

Smith explained that the sugars help to increase the salt’s effectiveness while also making it more resilient.

Developers of the treatment attempted to use beet juice remnants for a similar effect, but they found it stained roadways, Smith said.

At the meeting, Smith claimed Ice B’ Gone treated salt would last 30 to 50 percent longer because less of it would have to be spread to thwart ice. The sprayed salt is effective in temperatures as low as 35 below zero, he said.

Smith said he uses the treatment on commercial properties that he is contracted to plow, and he has been able to scrape down to the pavement even on the coldest days.

“You could actually eliminate using stone,” he said, telling council members they could stop buying aggregate, which is spread during winter storms to increase traction.

“This product, it actually leaves a barrier underneath,” Smith said. “It virtually eliminates the black ice.”

It takes eight gallons of Ice B’ Gone spray to treat a ton of salt, and the treatment costs $4.08 per gallon.

That cost would be in addition to the expense of purchasing salt, which is about $75 per ton at a local dealer, Smith said.

Borough officials said about 57 tons of salt purchased last year was not used. To treat that 57 tons, it would cost $1,860.48.

About 100 tons of salt is purchased by the borough on an average year, Street Superintendent Tim Adams said.

Anthony Scalia, a PennDOT spokesman, said he also could not comment on the Ice B’ Gone treatment.

“Over time, the department has tested a number of options for winter road applications but, without more information on this particular product, we can’t say for sure whether or not it was among one of the ones that we have reviewed,” he said in a Tuesday email.

To further sell his product, Smith also told council members that Ice B’ Gone would lower salt’s corrosiveness, prolonging vehicle life and lessening maintenance time and costs.

That is in addition to its environmental benefits, Smith said, claiming Ice B’ Gone is considered a “safer product” by experts. It also is 100 percent biodegradable, meaning treated material must be stored out of the elements — likely beneath a salt shed — before application.

Smith offered one warning, cautioning that Ice B’ Gone’s alcoholic roots don’t mean it should be consumed.

“Don’t drink it,” he said, getting some laughs.

Council members did not make a decision about the treatment Monday night.

At the same meeting, Smith warned those in attendance that a strike by salt mine workers means that there could be a shortage of road salt this year.

PennDOT officials could not immediately confirm information about a potential salt shortage, but several news articles published over the past few weeks back Smith’s claim.

Mirror Staff Writer Sean Sauro is at 946-7535.