With an icy windshield, it’s impossible to drive safely. But it can be extremely time consuming to wait for your car to warm up and heat up the windshield to melt the ice. You also can't pour hot water on the windshield as this could potentially crack it.
Are there ways to get ice off your windshield without heat, or must you wait for your vehicle to heat up enough for the ice to melt before you drive?
The best way to melt ice on your windshield without heat is to use a de-icer fluid. You can use de-icing washer fluid in your windscreen spray or purchase a de-icer that you spray directly on your windscreen. You can also make your own with 1/3 isopropyl alcohol and 2/3 water. Remove excess snow then spray these over the ice and watch it melt away fast.
There are actually a variety of useful and effective ways to melt ice on your windshield without heat and you can even use a combination of them to get rid of the ice even faster.
Learn the best methods to get ice off your windshield without heat below. Also, learn to prevent ice from forming and avoid fighting it for good with the following tips.
Heating Your Windshield Can Cause it to Crack
One of the main reasons you should learn how to get ice off a windshield without heat is because heat can cause a frozen windshield to crack. Pouring hot water over a freezing windshield rapidly heats up the outer layers of glass while leaving the layers below freezing.
The temperature difference between the different glass layers causes stress between the layers and leads to serious cracks. Always avoid using hot water when thawing a frozen or frosty windshield.
There are ways to de-ice your windshield with water but the best method involves using a plastic bag filled with warm water (not boiling) and rubbing it gently over the windscreen to melt thin layers or frost or ice.
However, in extremely cold temperatures using this method will just cause your windscreen to re-frost once you begin driving.
So having a way to defrost your windscreen without heat can be extremely useful as you wait for your car heater to warm up.
Understanding How De-Icing Solutions Work
Most ways to get ice off your windshield without heat require the use of a specialized de-icing solution. These solutions all work by lowering the freezing point of the water on your windshield.
Water freezes at 32ºF (0ºC) but other substances freeze at lower temperatures.
For instance, pure isopropyl alcohol has a freezing point of -128ºF (-89ºC), which means it’s nearly impossible to freeze without using some serious industrial freezers to do the job. Get more information about freezing points and salt specifically with this guide.
By adding isopropyl alcohol, or another substance with a low freezing point to your de-icing solution, you mix it with the water and create a tool that melts ice.
When spraying your de-icing solution over pure ice, the solution causes the surface of the ice to melt slightly and begins mixing with the resulting melted water. This causes the melting point of the ice on your windshield to get lower which forces the ice to turn into a liquid.
The solution creates a chain reaction that continues until all the ice is melted, and the resulting liquid won’t re-freeze thanks to the de-icing substances present.
Any water vapor in the air that would usually stick to your windscreen as frost also won't stick because it'll mix with the de-icing solution on your windscreen and stay as a liquid.
This is great as it can allow you to begin driving while your car defroster warms up and you don't need to wait a full 10-15 minutes before you can start driving.
Here are the best ways to get ice off your windshield without heat.
1. Use Windshield De-Icer Washer Fluid
You can purchase winter ice-melt washer fluid with a de-icer compound included. This usually has a higher concentration of methyl alcohol and often includes an antifreeze chemical like ethylene glycol to cause thin layers of ice to melt.
Add the fluid into your windshield wiper fluid reservoir and spray it onto your windshield to clear away light layers of ice without the need for heat.
De-icing washer fluid is one of the best ice removal tools because you can keep it in your vehicle at all times and always have an immediate way to remove ice fast.
Also if you are finding that frost is forming as you drive you have an easy and convenient way to spray the fluid over the windscreen and stop the frost from forming.
Present sells a de-icer windshield washer fluid that works in temperatures as low as -34ºF/-36ºC. Most of use won't experience temperatures this cold so it's a great way to keep your windscreen free of ice.
One of the most effective de-icer windshield washer fluids. Melts ice down to -34ºF (-36ºC) and prevents dangerous refreeze.
Cleans winter salt and grime and has a streak and glare free finish.
2. Use a Water and Alcohol Solution
Rather than purchasing a pre-mixed windscreen washer fluid you can actually make your own ice melt spray which works great for ice on your windshield.
Mix together approximately 1/3 rubbing alcohol with 2/3 water to create an effective de-icing spray. You can also go half and half in colder climates if you need it to be stronger.
When using rubbing alcohol, choose a liquid that has a 70% concentration or greater.
Combine the mixture in a spray bottle and liberally spray the solution over your frozen windshield in the morning. After a few minutes, the ice should melt enough for your windshield wipers to remove it with ease.
This solution is also great for quickly getting ice off your windscreen wipers if they are stuck to the windshield.
You can purchase isopropyl alcohol from your local supermarket or hardware store or you can get it on Amazon and delivered to your door.
99% isopropyl alcohol. Great for cleaning and a variety of other uses.
3. Scrape Away the Ice
When you need to remove ice immediately, it’s common to scrape it off using an ice scraper. Keep an effective ice scraper with durable plastic blades for safely removing thin layers of ice fast.
The most effective ice scraper features an edge with thick teeth that will effectively chip away at the ice. Apply even pressure against the glass and glide the scraper back and forth to remove the built-up ice on your windshield.
Consider combining one of the de-icing methods above and an ice scraper for the fastest ice removal possible.
4. Spray on Commercial De-Icer
If you don’t want to create your own homemade solution for removing ice, you can purchase a commercial product instead. There are many de-icing sprays available for purchase.
The different sprays have varying formulas, but most will get rid of ice accumulation when used properly.
Purchase your favorite commercial spray and follow the package’s instructions when applying it to your cold windshield. Generally, you just spray on the solution and wait for it to melt the ice for you.
However for thicker ice you may need to apply the spray and scrape the ice off as well. Prestone sells a de-icer spray at Amazon where the lid doubles as a scraper and it works great and has great reviews.
Melt ice on your windshield, windows and windscreen wipers fast and prevents dangerous re-freeze. High methanol content ensures ice will melt quickly and lid doubles as an ice scraper.
5. Apply a Salt Solution (Be Careful)
One of the most effective tools for melting ice is a simple salt solution. Salt is commonly used for melting ice on driveways, footpaths and roads.
However, salt isn’t good for your car’s metal surfaces as it can cause them to corrode and rust faster than they otherwise would. But it does rapidly melts through layers of ice when made into a liquid solution.
To make an effective ice-melt solution combine 1 gallon (4.5 liters) of water and ½ cup (144 grams) of table salt. Stir the mixture until the salt dissolves fully. Add the salty solution to a spray bottle, and you will have a convenient de-icing solution to use on your windshield and on other surfaces as well.
You can substitute rock salt or road salt for simple table salt to increase the melting power of your solution even more.
Also consider utilizing speciality salts such as magnesium chloride, baking soda or calcium chloride for a less corrosive solution.
If you're going to use a salt spray on your car then use it very sparingly. Once your car warms up the and defroster has warmed up the window you'll want to wash away the salt with the windscreen washers or a bucket or water or hose. Don't leave the salt on there for long periods of time.
Cover Your Windshield to Prevent Ice from Forming
When your windshield is coated with ice, you have no choice but to wait for it to melt or to take action to melt it using one of the techniques above. But you don’t have to let your windshield to freeze in the first place.
Instead of leaving your windshield exposed to the elements, consider applying a windshield cover to your vehicle before leaving it for the night.
Commercial windshield covers are available (at Amazon), but even something as simple as a sheet of cardboard or a towel set on your windshield can prevent ice from forming.
You may also want to consider keeping a water-resistant blanket such as the Yeti Lowlands in your vehicle to help you stay warm and give you a simple cover for your windshield when you need it. Click here to see a full list of the best DIY windscreen frost covers.
When you aren’t using a commercial cover, shut the sides of the cover in your vehicle’s doors and lift your windshield wipers up before placing them down over your makeshift cover to hold it in position.
If you use an effective cover, you can remove any accumulated ice by pulling away the cover in the morning and avoid the problem entirely.
Great for blocking the windshield from snow and ice accumulation. Made from heavy duty 600D vinyl it has a soft PVC inner layer to protect your windshield and is 100% waterproof.
Quick to install and pack away it's a universal fit that will suit most cars, trucks, vans and SUVs. Over 8,000 positive reviews and counting.
By learning how to get ice off your windshield without heat, you can rapidly clear your vehicle and get it ready to drive in the morning.
Whether you use a de-icing spray, a scraper, or apply a cover, it’s easy to deal with ice with the proper tools.
Take steps to protect your vehicle or to clear ice, and you’ll make your ride safer to drive and avoid potential tickets during the winter months.