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Ice Screen


Claim:   Spraying a mixture of vinegar and water on your car's windshield will de-ice it but may also create pits in the glass:

MIXTURE

Examples:   [Collected via e-mail, November 2013]

Which is true?

1. Spray vinegar & water mix to immediately melt windshield ice

2. Don't spray vinegar & mater mix on windshield because it will 'pock' your windshield.
 

2/3 cup vinegar and 1/3 cup water mix and spray on icy windows to clear them, that is on facebook a lot. now I see a new one saying the vinegar will pit holes in the glass of the windscreen, any truth in that?
 

I read that the mixture of 2/3 vinegar and 1/3 water mixture to get ice off your car windows will pit the glass. true or false?
 

Origins:   Claims about using a mixture of vinegar and water to remove ice from a car's windshield hit the Internet every year around the time of the first freeze in mid- to late-autumn. In recent years this advice has been widely spread as information suggesting that spraying vinegar and water (mixed in a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio) will remove ice from an already iced-over windshield, but the tip originated not as a de-icing method but rather as a way of stopping ice from building up on a windshield in the first place, as noted in a 1992 newspaper advice column:
Q: I keep my car outdoors at night during the winter. I use one of those cardboards on the windshield, but it still ices and frosts up. What can I do to stop this?

A: Dip a sponge or cloth into a solution of three parts of either white or yellow vinegar to one part of water. The windshield should stay ice-free. Repeat occasionally.
A 1980 "Hints from Heloise" column advocated the same idea:
Looking at the world through cloudy, streaked windows? Clean them with a mixture of vinegar and water. Same with the windshield. Vinegar also helps retard frost on those cold mornings if you pour it on the windshield the night before (three parts cider vinegar to one part water).
The issue of whether this method of ice prevention will indeed pit windshield glass is a matter of contention, with some cautioning that it does:
Pour a mixture of vinegar and water on the windshield so that it freezes to the glass before the rain does, thereby preventing ice. Unfortunately, vinegar eats pits into the windshield glass.
However, others assert that vinegar is commonly used in glass cleaning solutions and ordinary household vinegar is far too weak a form of acetic acid to produce this sort of damage:
Very few acids will dissolve glass — that's why they keep them in glass bottles. Does your vinegar bottle look pock-marked?

Windex (and other glass cleaners) are normally 5% ammonia in some sort of volatile solvent, with some detergents and other chemicals. The more environmentally-friendly variants replace the ammonia with acetic acid. A solution of 5% acetic acid (typical white vinegar) isn't going to hurt anything that 5% ammonia wouldn't.
Yet others note that even if vinegar doesn't harm windshield glass, it might cause damage to paint, chrome, or other exterior surfaces, so it should be used on automobiles with caution and wiped up promptly if spilled.

In general, we've found no consensus about how effective the use of a vinegar-water mixture to remove or prevent windshield ice might be, or whether it carries a potential risk that outweighs its benefits. In general, there are a variety of methods for dealing with windshield ice which motorists can employ, including the use of commercial ice and frost prevention sprays:



Last updated:   17 November 2013

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