A Homemade Solution For De-icing Steps

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Dear Reena,

Can you please tell me how to melt the ice on the steps in front of my home? My mother is 85 years old, and I fear that she will slip if I don’t do something to make the walk and steps less icy. — Max

Dear Max,

Use the following recipe several times throughout the season, to prevent your steps from becoming dangerous and icy. Into a gallon jug mix 1 tbsp. rubbing alcohol, 1 tsp. Dawn dish soap and half a gallon of hot water. Pour the concoction on the cement. Within a few hours, ice turns to slush making the area safer for walking. Also, consider securing outdoor carpet wherever possible.


Dear Reena,

In a recent column the last thing you said was never pour hot water in a drip brewer; always use cold water. My husband uses boiling water in our drip coffee maker, and it seems to work OK. Could you tell me why you should not use boiling water? — Baker

Dear Baker,

According to one of the world’s leading coffee retailers, a cup of coffee is 98 per cent water. So, the water you use to make coffee should taste clean, fresh, and free of impurities. Cold water cuts the acid in coffee by 65 per cent so that the result is a smoother cup of coffee. Most coffee pots are designed to heat water from a cold temperature; therefore, fewer minerals are inclined to build up in your coffee maker. However, if you are happy with the taste of your coffee and your machine is running well, then there is no need to change. Refer to your coffee maker manual for your own personal verification.


Best-kept secrets

Potatoes remove food stains from fingers. Slice a potato and use the exposed side to rub stained skin. Then wash as usual. — Edna

Real vanilla (not imitation) is great for keeping ticks and mosquitoes away. Wipe vanilla onto skin and let dry. Mosquitoes will not bother you, and your skin will smell sweet. — Betty

Shine jewelry by soaking silver in water in which potatoes were boiled. Let stand for one hour. Rinse. — C. C.

White shoe polish will not smear if hairspray is applied to the shoe after it has dried. — Darren

Reena’s Note: White shoe polish will have a more even appearance if shoes are wiped with rubbing alcohol before polishing.

If you need to scrape your windshield and aren’t getting a good grip on the scraper while wearing gloves, but also don’t want to freeze your fingers off, find an old or cheap pair of mitts. Cut a hole in the top — just big enough — near and just in front of the middle finger. Slip the handle of the scraper through so it’s now inside the mitt. Voila! Grip and warmth. — Rekha

I want to sing the praises of the spring tension rod. I have used it to put up quick curtains on windows (just drape the fabric over a couple of times) and you don’t have to put holes in the molding. I also put the rods from front to back on the walls of my closets to store a variety of items. I use the large ones (bath sheet rods) in my workroom to hang fabric on for steaming and measuring. I put them in doorways and closet doorways with curtain panels (I removed the doors, so they wouldn’t take up so much space in the room when they were opened). One fit perfectly in my bathroom above the sink as a guest towel holder (I covered it with a fabric tube). And, yes, I do use one for my shower curtain. The main advantage is that you can redecorate often with very little sewing. — Patty

To keep cat litter fresh-smelling, mix baby powder in with the litter. — Eric 

Cure hiccups every time. Cut a wedge of lemon. Dip it in sugar and eat the lemon. Not only does it taste good, but it also makes hiccups vanish. — L. B.

Back sandpaper with duct tape before applying it to vibrating sanders. It will last up to five times longer. — Denis

Before dropping uncooked pasta into a pot of boiling water, grip it firmly with both hands (one on top of the other). Twist both hands in opposite directions and drop pasta into the pot. The pasta will fan out around the edges of the pot and cook evenly. — Adrianne 

To stop eyes from burning when cutting onions, place your cutting board near the exhaust hood over the stove. It pulls the fumes up and away to prevent tears. — Grant 

If you don’t have enough batter to fill all cupcake tins, pour 1 tablespoon of water into the unfilled spots. This helps reserve the life of your pans. — Anonymous

Remove permanent marker from countertops and appliances by wiping with rubbing alcohol and a paper towel. — Janice 

For perfectly-decorated sugar cookies, cut each cookie with a cookie cutter on the baking sheet. This will prevent the cookie from losing its shape. After removing all excess dough, reposition the cookie cutter onto the cookie and add sprinkles. The cookie cutter keeps sprinkles evenly distributed in the center of each cookie. — Agnes

If you burn your tongue on hot liquid, resolve the pain by sprinkling sugar on the burn and leave to dissolve. — Jordan

Note: Every user assumes all risks of injury or damage resulting from the implementation of any suggestions in this column. Test all products on an inconspicuous area first.

Reena Nerbas is a popular motivational presenter for large and small groups; check out her website: reena.ca. Ask a question or share a tip at reena.ca