Sprays and other hacks to de-frost your windshield — fast

Perhaps it’s because we live in the Pacific Northwest and not an East Coast undergoing Blizzardpocalypsemania 2016. But you Street Smarts readers were awfully quiet on your tips and tricks for quickly defrosting an icy windshield.

So I put down my hamburger and did a little reading.

In 70 years, there hasn’t been much change in how cars help get rid of frost or ice on the windshield. It takes forever — and it’s horribly inefficient.

Oh, engineering, please come to our rescue.

Science may well be catching up. In fact, we may never have to scrape the windshield again with a new coating under development that resists frost as well as fog thanks to “nanoscale control of the macromolecular complexation process.”

(And let’s not even get into computational fluid dynamics or surface energy pulse heat transfer models. I mean, there is such a thing as too much fun.)

But winter is here today. And we don’t have time for abstracts and patents. We invoke the science of MacGyver.

Locals I talked to have spread towels, cardboard or (my favorite) Herald news sheets over their windshields the night before, using the wipers to hold the coverings in place. In the morning, take the cover off and you’re instantly ice-free.

Windshield washer fluid can also work in a pinch, if it’s not too cold yet outside, according to a friend of mine in Alaska.

The general recipe for a DIY de-icing solution is one part water to two parts rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol), with or without a dash of liquid dish soap, although I’ve yet to find anyone who’s tried it.

Most of the folks I know who live in colder climes than these say they spring for commercial de-icing sprays, which are guaranteed to work. Many stock up after winter, when the fluids are on sale. Around here, you could probably justify paying full price since it will likely last more than one season.

Then there’s my Michigan cousin, whose approach basically tells us all to suck it up: “My scraper is sharp and my will is outstanding.”

Have a question? Email us at streetsmarts@heraldnet.com. Please include your first and last name and city of residence. Look for updates on the Street Smarts blog.

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