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How to De-Ice a Windshield: Austin, TX Style

Posted by on February 4, 2018

For the third time in two months and since moving to Austin in 2009, Mother Nature snowed.  Par for the course in Austin, lots of ice rained down. I stayed in my apartment the entire day. I had a mental list of things to do, including working out in the morning and “going to work” in the afternoon, which was made possible since I telecommute.

The next day, I gathered my yoga gear, carefully maneuvered down the icy stairs and discovered a quarter inch of ice on my windshield.  My usual ice scrapers were an old plastic badge from my teaching days and a sturdier plastic flour spatula that I kept in the glove compartment. Yet, those things weren’t cracking the ice. To answer the obvious, YES, I’d turned on the defroster. The rear windshield defroster worked faster since the heating elements were embedded in the windshield itself, but that front windshield…

I also turned on my chemistry brain. I knew that isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol would’ve done the trick, but I only had hydrogen peroxide. One thought kept haunting me while I tried to make that flour spatula work.  As the minutes ticked by, I feared being late for yoga class; so I broke down and grabbed the vodka from my freezer.

Since vodka remains liquid in the freezer, it defrosts an icy windshield.  That’s all the chemistry anyone needs to know in this situation.

If I would have planned better, I would have poured the vodka onto a cloth, then applied it to the windshield.  Instead, I drizzled it on top of the windshield and scraped with a metal spatula.

After all that effort, I managed to get a peephole through the ice shield.  I figured the cops would stop me since I had to hunch over with my chin about an inch above the steering wheel in order to see.  I rooted every time the windshield wipers cleared a little more melted ice away.

By the time I pulled into the parking garage adjacent to the yoga studio, I was sitting upright like a normal driver, which was superb since the laws of civilization falter in parking lots/garages.

I hate arriving late to places, especially yoga, but I’d called ahead, so the instructor expected me. As luck would have it, I wore the brightest, loudest yoga pants I owned. A design called “disco dots.” Zero subtlety and absolutely no sneaking into that class already in progress. I set my mat up in the front row and joined in as if I’d been on time. Namaste!

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