Winter snowfalls turn dull, brown scenery beautiful. However, freezing weather can also mean frozen roads and ice-covered windshields. And while we can’t do anything about the roads, we have found a simple trick that will clear your window of ice and frost.
A frost-covered windshield is more than a nuisance – it’s also a safety hazard. Most of us are probably guilty of running late for work or an appointment and hurrying outside to find our window covered in ice. And instead of taking the time to clear it – and being late! – we instead scrape off just enough of the frost so that we can see, and trust to our car to warm up enough to melt the rest of the ice as we drive.
But we know that this poses a safety hazard not only for the driver, but also to other people on the road. Getting rid of the frost on a windshield is a step that no one can afford to skip. Fortunately, there is a very simple and effective solution to defrost your windshield in 30 seconds or less.
If you drive in areas that get frost in the cold months, chances are you’ve tried one of the following methods:
Some people use ice scrapers that come in different sizes, shapes, and materials. Even scraping will work – and it’s possible for it to be so cold outside that the frost sets up like concrete – it takes a lot of time and energy, and will probably leave you with frozen fingers.
Another way that people melt ice off their windshield is by hitting the defrost button in their cars. This allows them to go inside and wait in the relative warmth of their home, while their car heats up enough to melt the ice. While this can be effective, it can require you to leave your car running for up to 20 minutes in cold areas. Not only is this time consuming, but it’s also a waste of gas.
The secret ingredients
While warming up the car and scraping the windshields are effective, there is a better and faster way to defrost your windshield – a simple solution of rubbing alcohol and water from a spray bottle. Introduced by Ken Weathers (a meteorologist with Knoxville, Tennessee’s ABC channel WATE 6 news station), this easy-to-make, practical solution helps clear frost off your windshield in seconds.
The solution is mixed in a ratio of 1 part water and 2 parts isopropyl alcohol (aka, rubbing alcohol). Isopropyl alcohol is a common household item, well known for its use as an anti-septic, a cleaning agent, and a paint remover. It can also be used to get children’s putty out of carpets. You probably already have some in your medicine cabinet; if not, you can buy it at your local store.
After preparing the solution, pour it into a spray bottle. If you have an old empty spray bottle, you can simply rinse and use it. If not, you can find them at an affordable price in most dollar stores or the health and beauty section at department stores such as Wal-Mart or Target.
Once you have everything ready, simply spray the solution onto the windshield and watch the ice disappear in seconds.
Why this solution works
Isopropyl alcohol has a very low freezing point – -89 °C or -128 °F. Water, on the other hand, has a freezing point of 0°C or 32 °F. When you mix water with alcohol, the created mixture gains the low freezing point of the alcohol. When it meets the frost on your car, it causes the ice crystals to break apart, consequently dissolving the frost from the windshield rapidly.
Also, since the mixture won’t freeze (at least not at temperatures seen on the surface of the earth), you can always keep it in your car. That way, you’re always prepared for an unexpected frost or when you are away from home.
Why not use alcohol alone?
You could use the alcohol without mixing it with water, but you have to be careful not to spray on the car’s paint. That’s because alcohol consists of oils that can leave residue on the surface and damage the paint. By diluting the alcohol with water, however, it becomes safe to spray on the windows without worrying about the surrounding paint.
Why not use hot water instead?
Another way people defrost ice is by pouring hot water on the windshield. Although this method can work, hot water can break the windshield due to the rapid expansion of the glass. So, always use cold water – or a cold water/alcohol mix – to defrost your windshield. If you do find yourself with a broken windshield, then be sure replace your windshield as soon as possible. Some insurance policies even offer free replacement of chipped or damaged windshields.
If you live in a snowy area, you understand that defrosting car windows is not just an inconvenience; it can be a time-consuming part of the morning routine. Also, you can find frosted windshields when you least expect and this can drag you a few minutes behind your daily schedule. However, the simple solution of rubbing alcohol and water only takes seconds to make. And most importantly, it will make defrosting your windows easier. Simply put, this solution and a cup of coffee will make your winter mornings better.