Frozen pipes covered with icePhoto: Nazarova Mariia (Shutterstock)

As of this writing, much of the Midwest and Northeast are buried under snow-capped mountains, and the Pacific Northwest is stalling under about two inches of the material, but they’re not used to it, OK? It’s safe to say that this winter was no joke and you may feel the ramifications in the form of this homeowner’s nightmare: frozen pipes. Fortunately, if you are so concerned, there is a simple possible solution – salt water.

While a space heater, hairdryer, or heating mechanism in general can do the trick, if you don’t have any of these things on hand to get out of your cold solution, you can just pour salt water down the drain to thaw the frozen pipes. Boil about a gallon of water and pour in salt until it stops dissolving. When you’re done, toss the hot and salty water down the drain where it will hopefully thaw those pipes quickly.

Why does it work According to Eastern PlumbingAdding salt to the water will lower the melting point of the ice so you can thaw your pipes a lot faster. But there are also some steps you can take to prevent your pipes from freezing.

Illustration for article titled Defrost Your Frozen Pipes With Salt Water

One of them is surprisingly easy. According to Angie’s listOpening the cabinet doors under your sinks can prevent them from getting too cold.

In freezing weather, leave the cabinet doors under the sinks in the kitchen or bathroom open (especially if they are attached to an outside wall) so that the warmer room air can circulate around the pipes. You can also place a small lamp with a light bulb near the tubes. Be sure to remove flammable objects from the area to avoid fire.

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In the meantime, The Home Depot has some easy DIY suggestions for wintering your pipes with some foam insulation – a small investment that could save you big headaches during the snowy season.

This article was originally published January 2011 and updated on February 12, 2021. It contains more detailed information and additional tips on how to prevent frozen pipes.