Is winter taking its toll on you this year? Are you struggling to not let the bitter cold weather, iced-over windshields, and dark mornings eclipse your childhood wonderland? Let science restore your faith in winter as we pass on to you 5 life hacks that will help you survive the upcoming freeze.
The Key to Staying Toasty
With temperatures in the UK expected to drop to -10°C this year, it’s more important than ever to stay warm while you’re out and about. There are hundreds of life hacks to help you do this – from wearing lots of thin layers to build up insulation, to even microwaving your socks. But what about when your hands get unbearably cold?
By mixing a bit of calcium chloride (CaCl2) with water, you can make your very own miniature hot water bottle that is sure to keep all parts of you nice and toasty. This is because calcium chloride has an exothermic reaction when mixed with water, meaning that it releases heat.
Take a plastic sandwich bag and fill it half-way with calcium chloride. Next, take a smaller sandwich bag and this time fill it a quarter of the way with water before sealing it.
Next time you’re out and about and in need of some extra warmth, simply pop the bag of water inside. The water will react with the calcium chloride, causing the bag to heat up rapidly. You can enjoy this heat for up to 30 minutes! It’s the perfect solution to defrost those fingers.
Why not make a few of these miracle solutions to keep a hold of in your coat pockets? If you can’t get your hands on some calcium chloride, don’t worry – find out how you can still keep warm using nothing but a sock and some rice!
The Perfect Cup of Coffee
There’s nothing better than a nice brew to help kick-start your day in the winter – and we’ve got the life hacks to make sure that you enjoy every drop.
If your coffee is tasting too bitter, the water may be too hot. If the water is too hot it means that the bitter compounds released into the drink will increase. This is because hot water induces a deeper the extraction from the coffee beans. You can heap in sugar all you want, but that bitterness is only going to go away if you add one thing – a pinch of salt.
When salt dissolves, sodium ions break off into the coffee and block the bitter molecules from reaching your tongue, leaving you with an enhanced flavour. Now you can enjoy those early winter mornings with the perfect cup of coffee by your side.
If you need to make your hot drink last a little longer, add some refrigerator-cold cream. This means that it will actually cool 20% slower than regular black coffee. This is because of a few factors:
- Darker-coloured beverages emit more heat than their lighter-coloured counterparts because they absorb more light.
- According to the Stefan-Boltzmann law, hotter surfaces radiate heat faster – so adding cold cream to your coffee is actually the best thing you can do if you want to retain that warmth.
- A liquid that is more viscous takes much longer to evaporate, meaning that it will stay hotter for longer. This means another win for the coffee with cream as the extra component increases its viscosity.
Make every tea or coffee taste like a Starbucks with these life hacks, and put the win in winter.
End the Fog
Foggy car windows are an annoying, and sometimes blinding nuisance that greets us every year. Rather than suffer from driving with your window open, next time try putting a sock filled with cat litter on your dashboard – you’ll be free from fog in no time!
Foggy windows happen when the warm air inside your car collects moisture – usually from your breath and body – and meets the freezing cold windows. When humid air meets cold glass, it drops below the dew point. This is the specific temperature at which air can carry moisture. When below the dew point, free floating water molecules slow down and clump together on the glass. This is what causes the fog.
Cat litter is specifically designed to be super absorbent, for obvious reasons. In clumping litter, this is because of the ingredient sodium bentonite, which is a type of clay. Sodium bentonite reacts to moisture by swelling and clumping together. Silica litter, on the other hand, contains silica gel pearls that are filled with imperceptible hollow tunnels. These tunnels trap the moisture inside the pearls, similar to a sponge, where it eventually evaporates. This means that silica litter can remain absorbent for up to one month.
The advantage to using sodium bentonite or silica litter is that they are not only odourless, but can even absorb odour as well, leaving your car smell-free and fog-free. Simply fill up an old sock with a litter of your choosing, and pop it in your car – fog will be a thing of the past!
Life Hacks For Your Radiators
If you use a radiator to heat your home, and don’t have cavity wall insulation, sticking a sheet of tinfoil behind your radiator is a great way to maintain that heat for longer.
Either cut out a square of tinfoil and stick it shiny side up on the wall behind your radiator, or wrap a big piece of cardboard in it instead. By doing this, the foil will prevent heat losses into the wall by reflecting it back into your apartment. Not only will this keep your home warmer for longer, it will also conserve energy and save you some money.
It is worth bearing in mind that using the same piece of tin foil over a long period of time will be less effective as it will begin oxidising with the environment. This means that its reflective properties will be reduced. Either regularly change your tinfoil, or invest in a bona fide radiator reflector.
DIY Winter Windshield
Snow was a magical thing to us for many childhood years. It gave us snowmen, hot chocolate by the fire, and days off school. As time goes on, though, it seems winter and snow only gives us one thing: an icy windshield. Next time Jack Frost makes his visit to your car, try this DIY solution that is sure to de-ice that windshield.
Combine 2 quarts of rubbing alcohol (Isopropyl) with 1 cup of water. Rubbing alcohol has a freezing point of -89°C because of its weak inter-molecular forces. This makes it very difficult to freeze, and means that it won’t leave an icy layer on the glass.
When rubbing alcohol is combined with water, an exothermic reaction takes place. As a result, the two substances will heat up and help to melt away the ice on the windshield. A bonus is that rubbing alcohol also evaporates extremely quickly, and leaves little to no oil traces behind, leaving you with a squeaky clean windshield every time.
If you want to learn about some more winter life hacks, read our earlier blog about what chemicals will get you through the chilly months!