For those of you who live in the northern states, winter weather conditions are a very common obstacle. Almost every other morning, I find myself chipping away at ice on the windshield or doing something to de-ice the driveway.
Given my curious nature, I’ve investigated a lot of different methods for handling snow and ice with the end goal of reducing the cost of dealing with winter weather conditions. Here are seven of the best tactics I’ve found along the way.
1. Put a sheet over your windshield. If you’re anticipating a big, icy storm, get an old bed sheet and spread it across your windshield. Use the windshield wipers to hold it in place, then close the ends of the sheet in the doors of the vehicle. After the storm, you can simply peel the sheet off and the ice comes right off with it.
2. Use alcohol instead of de-icer. Instead of dropping money on an expensive bottle of de-icer, just fill a spray bottle with some rubbing alcohol, which you can get for far cheaper. Spraying this on icy surfaces does just as well as the expensive stuff. You can also add a bit of Windex to the mix, but I’ve not noticed much difference between the two.
3. Try mixing water, alcohol, and dishwashing soap, too. It’s also a useful tactic to fill a spray bottle with a 50-50 mix of water and alcohol with just a few drops of dishwashing soap. You can spray this on in climates where the temperature is just below freezing and it’ll work even better than the straight alcohol.
4. For icy sidewalks, mix calcium chloride and rock salt. Calcium chloride is the best material available for clearing ice off the sidewalk because it gives off heat as it melts the ice. Mixing it with much cheaper rock salt (in a 50-50 mix) allows the calcium chloride to work first, warming up the ice a bit to a temperature where the rock salt can work. Mix the two in a bucket in your garage.
5. For driveways, just use sand. Sand is far, far cheaper than salt for a large driveway and both have the same effect in the end – improving the traction of your vehicle. Before you put sand down, clear off the snow with a shovel so that you’re not just dumping sand on top of snow. You want the sand to cover the hard layer that you’ll actually be driving on.
6. Shovel snow properly. Many people dread the task of shoveling snow and have visions of painful backaches and other disastrous conclusions. This doesn’t have to be the case! Pick a shovel that fits you and doesn’t cause you to bend over unnecessarily. Do some stretching before you start, and bundle up so you don’t get cold. Don’t shovel at a rapid pace – do it slowly with small scoops. When you need to lift, lift with your knees as much as you can. Wear good shoes with good traction. Doing these things will turn shoveling from a pain-inducing activity into good, healthy exercise.
7. Keep an emergency kit at home – and another in the car. If you’re in a climate where major winter storms can occur, it’s useful to have an emergency kit at home with appropriate supplies so that everyone in the house can find it if the need occurs. The kit should contain flashlights, a battery powered (or wind-up) radio, a wind-up clock, some food that requires no cooking (and a can opener if the food is canned), plenty of blankets, and fresh batteries. Having this on hand can make it easy to ride out a storm at home instead of taking on the huge risk of having to head outside in the middle of a blizzard.
For the car kit, you should have the items listed above, plus an extra layer of winter clothes for everyone who might be traveling with you as well as some road flares (to help rescue teams find you). An old cell phone is also useful, as old cell phones that still have battery life can call 9-1-1 even if they don’t have a phone plan.