Metro Government hopes some ‘magic' will help keep roads clear

Published: Jan. 26, 2009 at 11:33 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 26, 2009 at 6:43 PM EST
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Bill Minor
Bill Minor

By Janelle MacDonald - bio | email
Posted by Charles Gazaway - email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A winter storm warning is in effect for most of Kentuckiana and some areas could see several inches of snow overnight. WAVE 3 spoke to city officials about a new product that they hope will do a better job of keeping the roads clear.

City crews have been out all day Monday and for a large part of the last four days. By early Monday evening, there were three layers on all the streets - the brine from Friday, salt from Sunday night and a new layer of brine Monday. Mayor's snow team spokesperson Kerri Richardson said that with the mix of snow and ice over the next few days, it is a good time to try out a new product the metro is pretty excited about.

"Brining is the name of the game right now and that's what we're doing," said Mayor Jerry Abramson Monday morning.

As the full force of the Metro's snow team hits the road, this year, they will be getting help from a new product. It is what Bill Minor calls "Magic salt."

Five years ago, Minor bought the franchise for Magic Minus Zero. Added to regular salt, it's called Magic Salt. The Metro calls it, "Ice proof. Don't forget that new mixture that we've got that we're mixing in with the salt and with the brine."

"Where regular salt brine you got to put down above freezing. You can put this down at 15 degrees and it still works," said Minor as he explained how his product works.

It is the first year the city's testing it for snow and ice prevention and removal, but its origins date back years.

"It was started in Hungary. A chemist over there in a vodka plant was walking around outside and saw that the lake never froze," Minor said.

So a new mixture was born. It is 50 percent magnesium chloride and the distilled soluble from vodka and rum.

"What's left over, like in bourbon they have the mash that they'd take and feed to hogs and stuff like that, it takes to a freeze point to ten degrees below zero and will actively melt to ten above," said Minor.

But the real question is does it work? Minor says it is way better than anything we have ever used before.

"Rock salt compared to Magic Salt is like a horse and buggy racing a Ferrari," Minor said.

Mayor Abramson says this could be the time to prove it.

"Seemingly works real well, but we've yet to have a real test. This will be a test over the next couple of days," said Abramson.

The Magic Salt mixture kind of smells like soy sauce or, some say, molasses. The city's not using it in salt form yet. They are sticking with the brine mixture for this year. It costs the Metro about $2.95 a gallon. It's mixed in to traditional brine, which costs 2 cents a gallon. If it can keep the roads from being slick and icy, the Metro is thinking it could be worth it.