I do some maintenance on the neighborhood ice-skating rink. To control the lights, there is an outside electrical panel that is locked with a padlock.

This padlock always gets frozen. Every time I need to mess with the light controls, I have a hard time trying to even get the key in, then I cannot even turn it. The only solution I have found so far is to heat it up with my bare hands, which risks frostbite. That was sustainable when the weather was good, but the temperature is going down to -25 Celsius (-13 Fahrenheit) this week.

Is there a easier way to unfreeze it?

  • 2
    possible duplicate of shed keyed door handle always freezes
    – Niall C.
    Jan 24, 2013 at 16:05
  • 4
    They make a lock deicer spray designed to unfreeze automotive locks, but I don't see why it wouldn't work on other locks as well. You should be able to find it at your local automotive shop.
    – Tester101
    Jan 24, 2013 at 16:07
  • 2
    I'm going to disagree that this is an exact dup, one is about opening a lock once it has frozen, and the other is about preventing it from freezing. I've updated the titles.
    – BMitch
    Jan 25, 2013 at 2:30

10 Answers 10


Get some lock deicer/lubricant. It's sold specifically for this and contains graphite and methanol. Shake well before applying. The methanol removes water and oil from the lock mechanism and leaves behind graphite well flooded through every nook and cranny in the device. You use graphite because it's a dry lubricant and unlike oil, it doesn't attract dirt or gum up like petroleum lubricants.

  • 2
    +1 Always use graphite on locks. The hunting around for this "special" lock lubricant is so beneficial, in so many ways. If you can only find the squeeze tube variant. Puff it into a thawed lock a couple of times, and then run the key in and out until it moves like a knife through warm butter.
    – Edwin Buck
    Jan 28, 2013 at 20:52

You should use a Zippo or gas lighter -- the ones with the blue flames.

It will super-heat the lock and then you can put the key in.

  • 2
    Would the flame risk to damage the padlock?
    – DavRob60
    Jan 27, 2013 at 22:16
  • Use it on the padlock body and move it around. You only need to warm it till the ice gives way. Don't direct it into the keyhole or around the cylinder, brass won't like being overheated. The major problem is you'll be doing it again every time you need to open the lock. Using a methanol based deicer attempts to remove the water that is causing the problem. Jan 28, 2013 at 21:52
  • 1
    This goes without saying, but: don't mix the two methods! Methanol + flame = trouble.
    – MT_Head
    Jan 29, 2013 at 1:56

grab a bowl of hot beverage and let it steam on it a bit for a quick solution (any temporary heat source will do, like a hot pack)

for a more permanent solution take the lock inside and dry it out in rice like you would drowned electronics to get the lingering moisture out and then lubricate it with some penetrative oil so much that water can't get in to seize up the mechanism again

to prevent further seize ups don't let water enter it again; ensure it isn't exposed to rain or snow and seal of the keyhole with a plastic bag over the lock


Alcohol did it just now for me , in MO and 6 degrees snow and ice during the night needed to get into my trailer ( I drive a truck . 1.00 and done

  • Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. Thanks for the answer; keep 'em coming. And, you should probably take our tour so you'll know how best to contribute here. Feb 13, 2020 at 15:05

Here are a few other methods that can be used to heat the lock and melt whatever is frozen inside of the lock and preventing your key from entering and turning properly:

  1. A cigar lighter or a soldering/welding torch
  2. A heat gun
  3. A cordless hairdryer
  4. Boiling hot/warm water may also be used to melt the frozen contents of the lock, but has the potential to make the problem worse since it will freeze. It's worth a shot considering it's free. Don't burn yourself.

Obviously, you should mindful not to burn down whatever the lock is attached due to use of excessive heat --- especially while using a torch. The flame is extremely hot and will melt whatever is frozen inside of the lock very quickly. Your padlock will be fine unless you decide to apply the flame for a ridiculously long period of time. Apply for a FEW SECONDS at a time only.


I heat the key with a butane lighter, and put the key in the keyhole. It takes 2-4 cycles of re-heating but the hot key melts the ice and frees up the lock.

I have a lock in a very wet/cold/snowy environment and have tried several ways including graphite, synthetic oil, and even chain lube for bike chains, and ultimately the amount of water the lock is exposed to washes out everything sooner or later. Plus with most lubes, once they are placed they will run down the lock and make it messy to handle.

I may try wrapping the lock in shrink wrap to better protect it against rain infiltration...


I warmed the key on the space heater then use it to warm the lock and it opens.


I used a hot water bottle to defrost my garage door lock.


Blow torch will work. I have to use one regularly at my work.


Isopropyl alcohol in the key hole and holes of shackle

  • Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. Thanks for the answer; keep 'em coming. And, you should probably take our tour so you'll know how best to contribute here. Jan 12, 2020 at 22:54

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