Meeting of Enthusiasts New Cocktail: Wood Chips on Ice!

Homo Sapiens! What a magnificent beast! What a complex and fascinating machine at the same time. A creature that leaves no one indifferent.

For me, what impresses me the most about human beings is their thirst for knowledge, for discovery. Its natural propensity to innovate in multiple fields. Just think of the many researchers who, from the depths of their laboratories, work to improve the health, the environment and the future of populations. Progress, always… This week, an article caught my attention and today, I want to talk to you about it, a little…

Did you know that for eight years now, Switzerland has been using wood chips soaked in magnesium chloride to de-ice roads and sidewalks? A happy initiative to which Quebec is following suit this winter. Indeed, a few municipalities, including Rosemère and Granby, have decided to conduct a pilot project to test the effectiveness of these small softwood chips (fir, spruce, birch, etc.) in melting ice. Great idea, in my opinion.

It is known and recognized: de-icing salts have a negative impact on fauna, flora and the aquatic environment. They can also affect the quality of drinking water. Facts that are not very encouraging, you will tell me and you are absolutely right.

On the other hand, wood chips represent an ecological solution. They are fully biodegradable and their neutral pH substantially reduces the risk of polluting waterways.

Unlike salts, shavings do not reach the water table and are not corrosive to concrete and steel in bridges. Notable benefits for us and our environment.

The principle is relatively simple: the small pieces of wood 5 to 20 millimeters in length become encrusted in the snow where they can remain for six days, even when the mercury drops to -30 degrees Celcius, thanks to the brine in which they are soaked.

Obviously, in the spring, the chips must be collected. But, again, they carry good news, because they can be reused, especially as compost or mulch. In Switzerland, the chips are mixed with other products and are used to heat 7,000 homes. Wonderful isn't it?

It remains to be seen what we will offer our research heads in a few years? Can't wait to see ...

Céline Thibault Columnist

Note: In Quebec, the company EMC3 Technologies of Joliette manufactures wood chips. #ecoicegrip #winter #enviroment

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