The Windshield De-icing Problem
There have been several days here in Colorado Springs this winter where the ice has been particularly thick on my car windshield. Since I don’t enjoy standing out in the freezing cold for several minutes with the wind blowing in my face, I decided to look for an alternative to scraping that didn’t involve letting my car idle for 20 minutes to get the defroster working. So, I began my search for a commercial windshield de-icer.
First I considered some of the commercial windshield de-icer products, but at $5-6 for 12 ounces, I felt they were a bit overpriced. I tried some windshield cleaning fluid that was supposed to de-ice the windshield, but it left a slight residue that quickly “re-froze” to the glass in a very artistic, but undesirable flowering pattern (see picture on right).
An Effective Homemade Windshield De-icer
Finally, I read (somewhere online) that isopropyl alcohol is a very effective windshield de-icer. Since I use a mixture of isopropyl alcohol and vinegar as a glass cleaner, I have plenty on hand. So I gave it a try. I mixed 3 parts of 99% isopropyl alcohol with 1 part water and it worked like a charm. Just brush off the snow, and spray the mixture on the windshield using a plastic spray bottle and the ice melts quickly. Then you simply wipe the solution off with a rag. If you don’t have a rag available, windshield wipers can do the trick, but I prefer to use a rag as it does the best job. It has the added benefit of thoroughly cleaning your windshield too!
So by mixing 3 parts of 99% isopropyl alcohol to 1 part water you can get 12 ounces (9 ounces isopropyl alcohol, 3 ounces water) of homemade windshield de-icer for around a buck! Give it a try. It is amazingly effective and you will have a clean windshield too! Please note that the 3:1 mixture of 99% isopropyl alcohol to water yields an approximate 75% concentration of isopropyl alcohol. This is important because that concentration will freeze around -20 degrees F. For that and other reasons, I do not recommend putting the solution in the windshield fluid reservoir. Simply keep a spray bottle of the solution in your car and apply liberally when you have a nasty layer of ice on the windshield. Those of you good at math, will recognize that 70% isopropyl alcohol, commonly found in the first-aid section of your local pharmacy or mega-mart, can be applied “straight” (without dilution) and will maintain the approximate freezing point of -20 F. If you live in a climate where it gets colder than that, my condolences and you will definitely want to use the 99% concentration which won’t freeze until roughly -128 F. If it is that cold, you will have bigger problems than defrosting your windshield…
For those that will undoubtably wonder about the possible effect of the isopropyl alcohol on paint and wax, I share your well-founded concerns and recommend just spraying the icy glass with the mixture and simply wiping it off. A slight overspray here and there is unlikely to cause issues whereas pouring it all over the place may remove a bit of the sparkle from your paint, damage plastic trim pieces, etc. so “spray between the lines”.
A Friendly Reminder From Bob
Please remember that the erratic winter temperatures in Colorado Springs and the use of the defroster can cause windshield chips and/or cracks to quickly spread. So it is best to get them repaired as soon as possible to avoid risking the damage from spreading to the point the windshield must be replaced. Give Bob’s Windshield Repair a call and we will come to you to perform mobile windshield repair all over Colorado Springs for a fraction of the cost of a replacement.