Even though the calendar says spring, the weather screams winter — icy temps and snow are blanketing much of the country. Folks here in Maine woke up to freezing rain, encasing their cars in a glaze of ice. On days like this, we get questions about the best de-icing methods.
Recently, we were asked via email:
I’ve heard that a mixture of vinegar and water in a spray bottle can safely melt ice off your windshield so you don’t have to chip it with an ice scraper, but my husband says it will pock my windshield. Help!
The vinegar and water deicer recipe seems to circulate around the Internet every winter and early spring. While vinegar may not pock the windshield (remember, vinegar is stored in glass bottles), it may prove corrosive to your vehicle’s chrome finishes and paint — it is acid, after all. And it’s not very effective at melting ice that has already formed.
So what can you do? If you can’t take preventive measures, such as draping a tarp, large piece of cardboard, or blanket over your windshield before bad weather moves in, and you don’t have a garage to park in, are there any effective DIY solutions to loosen that nasty ice, other than running the vehicle (which isn’t very environmentally friendly)? Try these:
- Vodka – Vodka contains ethanol which, if you’ve ever stored a bottle in the freezer, you know it doesn’t freeze. So it can make a good deicer. Mix one part water to two parts vodka and either spray or pour on the windshield, then scrape. (PS: An old card in your wallet doubles as an ice scraper in a pinch!). You might want to go with the less expensive brands for this use.
- Grab the bottle of your car’s windshield wiper fluid from the trunk and apply it directly to the windshield to help soften the ice, then scrape.
- Pickle juice – Because it contains salt, it is effective at getting rid of ice. Apply directly to the windshield. But salt is salt, and the brine also contains vinegar, which can be corrosive to your car’s finish. Be sure to “de-salt” your vehicle in a car wash as soon as the temps warm up.
In all cases, you’ll still have to scrape, but it’s not as challenging.
The bad news is that when ice attacks your windshield, it’s mostly a waiting game –waiting for warmer temperatures!