While winter can be a beautiful time of year, perfect for roaring fires and hot cocoa, one thing that is not so pretty: slipping on the ice. If you get caught without enough ice melt on hand, here are some DIY options to save your butt this winter — quite literally.
Road or rock salt works best. You may not have road salt, but you probably have seasoning salt or rock salt in your kitchen. That can still work as a quick and dirty ice melt in a pinch. Experts recommend adding a little bit of water to help expedite the melting process, so wet the surface lightly with warm or hot water then throw some salt down. (Pro tip: do not throw hot water on your windshield; the extreme temperature change can crack the glass.)
Dish soap and rubbing alcohol
Reader’s Digest recommends a made-from-your-medicine-cabinet ice melt. Mix together about a half a gallon of hot water, six drops of dish soap and ¼ cup of rubbing alcohol. Pour the mixture onto the surface you’re trying to de-ice, and watch it melt away! (You can also put this in a spray bottle and use it on your vehicle’s windshield and windows to save time scraping.)
While sand or kitty litter won’t help ice melt any faster, they do help add some traction to otherwise slippery surfaces. Some experts say fireplace ash can also work.
Ammonium sulfate, a common ingredient in fertilizers, can expedite ice melt. Use this sparingly, however, as fertilizer runoff can cause environmental concerns.
Windshield wiper fluid
Designed to withstand very cold temperatures, windshield wiper fluid works well at breaking down ice. The downside is its toxicity, so you don’t want to use it near plants or where it will runoff into storm drains.
In the absence of salt, another kitchen staple can help clear up your ice trouble: sugar. It won’t work if it’s too cold outside, but sugar or things with a high-sugar content (like Kool-Aid) can help ice melt more quickly. (It also provides more traction, similar to sand or kitty litter.)
One of the kitchen’s most versatile items, vinegar can be used as a de-icer. While you might need a lot to clear a sidewalk, the good news is that vinegar is inexpensive and nontoxic. You can also add it to a spray bottle and use on windshields and windows. (If you have a jar of pickle brine, that works, too!)
Do you have a tried-and-true way for melting ice DIY? Share it with us in a comment below.
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