How can I open a frozen padlock? Spraying WD-40 didn't help and I don't have access to deicer spray at the moment. I'm not sure what else to try.

  • 1
    Difficult to answer this question without some context. Where is the padlock? If it's outside and far from electricity, answers will need to reflect that. Commented Jan 29, 2015 at 10:29

6 Answers 6


If you have a high-proof alcoholic beverage (not sweet; sugar will gum up the works later), that can work as deicer, but dry out the lock afterwards.

  • 1+ This is interesting, so you know why this works?
    – Pobrecita
    Commented Jan 29, 2015 at 17:18
  • 1
    It's called freezing point depression due to a substance dissolved in another. There's a nice graph of the freezing point of ethanol (drinking alcohol) and water at commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/…. Note that the minimum freezing point is about 93% ethanol; that mixture is called eutectic. Commented Jan 29, 2015 at 21:50
  • How about rubbing alcohol? At least it won't be sweet. Commented Dec 18, 2019 at 20:32

Use a hair dryer. The warm, dry air from a hair dryer is perfect for melting ice. Depending on how frozen the lock is and the outside temperature, it may take between one and five minutes, if not longer.

Then spray the lock with WD-40 to help prevent it from happening again.

  • It worth noting the WD-40 works on locks by displacing the water (which freeze easily) and helping prevent the water from re-entering the lock. It should be reapplied regularly See Fun Facts Also of note WD-40 has a freezing point of -63C or -81F, so it might not be the best choice for winter in Antarctica Commented Dec 16, 2019 at 18:17

If you are miles from anywhere and you don't have anything with you described above and your survival depends on what's on the other side of the door there is a fairly unsavory way to thaw the lock to allow you to operate it; urinate on it. It's not pleasant but it will raise the temperature of the padlock and thaw any ice in the mechanism.


Another option building on the heat line of thoughts, is to use one or two plastic bags filled with warm water, and then put these in contact with the padlock, i.e. one on either side.

Leave for a few minutes, and the padlock should have thawed and be easily opened again!


Heat the key with a lighter. Then stick the key in the lock. Works every time.


To add to the other answer that may not be as accessible due to the length of a Hair Dryer cord, here is what I do:

Wrap the lock in your hands and breathe on it. Use your hands to insulate the heat in. This usually opens it, and I usually take it somewhere warm to thaw out and apply the WD-40.

Other methods are if the lock is pure metal is to put a fire(cigarette lighter, etc) directly to it. The below link says to use a mug of a hot beverage. But from experience the hot liquid will be steam and if the weather is cold enough, this will turn to ice when it the lock. But if hold it close enough and have some barriers around it to protect against wind then it should work.

How do I open a padlock after it has frozen?

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