Can You Melt Sidewalk Ice With Dawn Dish Soap?

Numerous sites claim that you can remove ice 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 which includes 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.”


Our Test and Other Reported Results

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/blogs that repeat this claim (including our comments below), there are many people warning others not to try this due to assertions that it doesn’t work, increases slipperiness, and/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.

Related article

Is Vinegar a Safe Solution to Windshield Frost?

Updated November 17, 2014
Originally published December 2013

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

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

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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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