Can You Melt Sidewalk Ice With Dawn Dish Soap?

Numerous websites claim that sidewalk ice can be removed or prevented with a Dawn dish soap mixture. We decided to put this claim to the test, and present our results below.

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Online Claims

A search on Google reveals a number of websites which claim that a specialized deicing mixture including Dawn dish soap 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 has been spotted on Facebook, and states, “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.”

dawn-ice

Our Test and Other Reported Results

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Although the Dawn deicing mixture claim appears on multiple websites, it seems that results are mixed. Instinctively, pouring dish soap and water on frozen walking area seems like a poor idea which might result in additional slipperiness.

For our test, we enlisted some friends in Iowa to try this tip 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, repeats 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.”

Bottom Line

Many websites claim that a homemade deicer can be created using a mix which includes Dawn dish soap. In our test, the mixture did not work well, and made walking areas more slippery. 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.

Have you tried this trick, and did it work for you?

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Updated January 10, 2015
Originally published December 2013

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10 Comments on Can You Melt Sidewalk Ice With Dawn Dish Soap?

  1. It worked for me, but not as expected!!!

    I used hot water (not warm). I poured the mixture on my ice covered wrought iron porch and steps. The hot mixture melted the ice but it refroze almost immediately. It produced another sheet of ice but it was not slippery. I walked on it, tried to slide on it…:)

  2. Richard Davis // February 9, 2015 at 8:07 pm // Reply

    Such a small amount of alcohol, spread over just a few square feet would evaporate in minutes! This has to be a hoax.

  3. Shadow Eagle // February 6, 2015 at 8:13 am // Reply

    Use more Alcohol next time… thats what prevents the freezing.

  4. I used this mixture and it DOES work but within limitations. First off, if it’s in the negatives outside then don’t use it. I live in Colorado where the temp has been between 5-40 degrees and it works well for me. BUT I want to note that I also added 2 TBLS of table salt to the mixture. So far it’s lasted me a couple days without any ice. Please keep this in mind when trying this for yourselves.

  5. Sandra DeLusant // January 8, 2015 at 1:19 pm // Reply

    I’m glad I read the results you posted. When I saw it on Facebook I was the 1st person who read it & no one else had posted a comment yet. I guess everyone who has discovered that their steps & sidewalk had become pitted from salt is always hoping for a miracle. This is one so called miracle that I won’t be trying. Thank you !!!

  6. Find a pool supply store and buy pool filter media (silica #20) it works slower but it works.

  7. Lindsay Frost // February 3, 2014 at 6:53 am // Reply

    Wish I had read this first before pouring the mixture on me steps last night. What a mess this morning. Thick ice where I had poured the mixture. Thin easy ice to scrap where I did not pour the mixture. Result? Best way is the old fashion way,…..shovel.

  8. Kathy Solloway, Wabash, IN // January 28, 2014 at 3:51 pm // Reply

    I tested it first and thank goodness I didn’t but it on our steps or us two old people would have broke a bone for sure. I hope the person who put this out is ashamed of themselves.

  9. I haven’t tried this but anyone with a brain knows that the soap would be slippery. Don’t try it unless you want to bust your bottom.

  10. wrosenberger // January 24, 2014 at 7:10 am // Reply

    I thank you for your HoaxBuster. I was just about to try it on a stalagmite that’s growing bu my back door. Anything slipperier would have been a disaster.

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