All things considered, the winter hasn't been that bad so far. We did, however, finally get a decent snow where I live last night, so these winter survival chemistry hacks couldn't have arrived at a better time. Brought to us by the American Chemical Society's Reactions web series, they're just what the doctor ordered to make getting through the cold weather a little tiny bit easier. The best part? They're all based in science. Fun!
The last time we checked in with Reactions, they were enlightening us as to exactly what goes on in our stomachs when we eat too much turkey at Thanksgiving. They definitely haven't been idle since then, though; other videos they've put up in recent memory explored the chemistry of champagne and explained why salt melts ice. This latest round of chemistry-based life hacks will probably be most useful to people who have to drive in the snow — but even if you don't do any cold weather driving, they're still pretty neat. Here are three of my favorites; scroll down to watch the whole video.
1. Unfog Your Windshield Without Freezing Your Butt Off
Once you turn your car on and the air starts to heat up, moisture from your breath and body boost up the humidity. When that humidity hits your freezing cold windshield, though, they drop below the dewpoint, causing them to slow down and clump together as that foggy film that makes it so difficult to see out your windows. To solve the problem, wipe down the windshield from the inside, keep the windows closed and turn off the air recirculate feature on your AC, and blast the defroster on high. Bye bye, fog!
2. Free Your Wheels from the Snow's Icy Grip
There's nothing more annoying that pressing down on the gas pedal, only to find that the wheels keep spinning without actually moving the vehicle. This usually happens for one of two reasons: Either the slippery surface of the snow and/or ice is preventing your wheels from gaining any traction, or you're hydroplaning on slush. But hey, guess what? If you have a cat, you've already got exactly what you need to solve the problem: Clay kitty litter. Just toss some down around your wheels — it'll give them exactly the kind of surface they need to grip down and get going.
3. Warm Up Your Hands with Science
You know those chemical hand warmer things? The ones that look like plastic bags and heat up when you crunch up something inside of them? Here's how to make one of those yourself (just, y'know, be careful, because chemicals): Grab a large ziplock bag and fill it about half full with calcium chloride, AKA the stuff you use to de-ice your driveway. Then take a smaller ziplock a fill it about a quarter of the way full with water. After you've sealed it, stick it inside the bigger bag with the calcium chloride, squeeze all the air out of the bigger bag, and seal that one, too (make sure all your seals are tight!). When you need a little boost of warmth, squish your bags such that the small bag inside pops. When the water comes in contact with the calcium chloride, it'll start reacting — and giving off heat. It'll stay warm for about 30 minutes, enabling you to thaw out your cold little hands.
Watch the full video below — and stay warm!
Images: Reactions/YouTube (3)