Hoaxes & Rumors

Can You Melt Sidewalk Ice With Dawn Dish Soap?

Can You Melt Sidewalk Ice With Dawn Dish Soap?

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.

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Online Claims

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

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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.

Bottom Line

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?

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Updated March 2, 2015
Originally published December 2013

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  • Richard Davis

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

  • Nick

    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.

  • Sandra DeLusant

    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 !!!

  • joe

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

  • Kathy Solloway, Wabash, IN

    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.

  • Georgia

    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.

  • wrosenberger

    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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