A popular internet hint claims that a homemade deicer can be created using a mixture of Dawn dish soap, rubbing alcohol, and hot water. We put this hint to the test.
A Google search reveals a number of websites which claim that a mixture including Dawn dish soap, rubbing alcohol, and hot water can remove ice from steps and sidewalks while preventing new ice from forming. Does this actually work?
First, let’s take a look at one of the claims which has increased in circulation in late 2013. The graphic below was been spotted on Facebook, and read, “For icy steps and sidewalks in freezing temperatures, mix 1 teaspoon of Dawn dish washing liquid, 1 tablespoon of rubbing alcohol, and 1/2 gallon hot/warm water and pour over walkways. They won’t refreeze.”
Our 2013 Test and Other Reported Results
Although the Dawn deicing mixture claim appeared on multiple websites, it seems that results have been mixed. Instinctively, pouring dish soap and water on frozen walking area seems like a poor idea which might result in additional slipperiness.
We first tested this hint in December 2013 by asking some friends in Iowa to try it out on an icy walkway outside of their home. They prepared the solution exactly to the specifications above and applied it to the icy section. Their final conclusion was that the solution did not work for deicing or preventing ice buildup, and actually seemed to make the area slipperier than it was before. “It’s an ice skating rink,” one participant told us. This blogger also came to a similar conclusion.
If one takes the time to scroll through the comments left on some of the websites and blogs which repeat this claim (including our reader comments below), there are many people warning others not to try this due to assertions that it doesn’t work, increases slipperiness, or eventually results in the formation of more ice.
KSTP 5, a CBS affiliate out of Minneapolis, tested the claim in an article entitled, “Home Remedies for Melting Icy Sidewalks and Driveways.” According to their results, the mixture actually worked. A quote from the article exclaims, “It worked! It melted through several layers of ice, and the alcohol in the solution prevented the water from refreezing.”
2015 Test and Video
As this hint continued to circulate, we decided to revisit it and post our results on YouTube. We tested it in Indianapolis, Indiana in March 2015, and we have posted results of our test in the video below. Just as we experienced the first time around, the solution was mixed exactly to the specifications but did not work. The area of the sidewalk where we applied the solution was frozen over about an hour later.
It should be noted that we applied industrial de-icing salt on this location a day later and it remained ice-free more than 24 hours later.
An internet hint claims that a homemade deicer can be created using a mixture including Dawn dish soap, rubbing alcohol, and hot water. We tested it in 2013 and 2015, and found that the mixture did not work. The area where we applied the mixture was completely frozen about an hour after application. Comments left on our site and many others seem to agree with our assessment. However, there seems to be mixed results, and some people claim that it worked for them. We found de-icing salt to be superior.
Have you tried this trick, and did it work for you?
Updated March 2, 2015
Originally published December 2013