Aluminum foil is a Penny Hoarder’s best friend when it comes to preserving leftovers. But if you’re just using that handy foil to wrap day-old food, you’re completely missing out on so many other uses for this extraordinary kitchen gadget.
The many uses of aluminum foil
You may be dating yourself if you still call the shiny workhorse “tinfoil,” although it’s not uncommon to hear that phrase. Aluminum foil was made from tin until after World War II, when stronger and cheaper aluminum became widely used. Now you know. Read on for 10 smart money saving ideas.
1. Sharpen the scissors
Do not throw away a dull pair of scissors or pay someone else to sharpen them. Sharpen the scissors with aluminum foil, says Rachel Timmerman, Virginia blogger for The Analytical Mommy. Fold a 10-by-10-inch piece of aluminum foil three times. Then, cut the aluminum foil about 20 times with the scissors so that it is as sharp as the day you bought it.
2. Substitute for dryer sheets
Crumble up a ball of aluminum foil and throw it in your dryer, says Gladys Connelly, technical writer for The HouseWire, a product review site. This works exactly like a dryer sheet, says Connelly. “Eliminate static and fluff clothes,” she says. Spray lavender oil or your favorite scent in the middle of the aluminum foil before crumpling it so it smells as good as a dryer sheet, recommends Connelly.
3. Reduce your heating bill
If you have cast iron radiators, you can make a heat reflector out of aluminum foil. Glue some sturdy aluminum foil to a piece of cardboard, shiny side up. That is literally it. Place the heat reflector behind your radiator or under the top of the radiator. The heat waves will naturally bounce off the foil into the room instead of going to the wall behind the radiator.
4. Cover your paint tray
Do not throw away the plastic paint tray after each use. Keep the tray clean by wrapping it in aluminum foil. When you’re done, just remove the foil and your paint tray will look like new, says Connelly.
5. Remove the gel nail polish
You cannot use acetone and a cotton ball to remove gel nail polish. Instead, you are supposed to soak your nails in acetone. But it would be a waste to use a bowl of acetone just to remove the polish. Then Malaika Desrameaux, a Miami content creator with Self Care Sunday Love, discovered a tin foil method. 1. File the tops of the gel nails to remove the shiny layer. 2. Soak a cotton ball in acetone and place the cotton ball on the nail. 3. Wrap your nail (with the cotton on top) with a 3-by-5-inch piece of aluminum foil. 4. Repeat with all fingers and let them rest for 10 to 15 minutes. 5. Remove the cotton and aluminum foil and remove the gel nail polish.
6. Polish silver
You don’t need a special polish or even an elbow to make Nanny’s heirloom cutlery shine again. Put a sheet of aluminum foil in a pan, add cold water and 2 teaspoons of salt. Put silver in the pan and leave it for two minutes. Rinse with water and allow to dry. Aluminum causes a molecular reaction, cleaning the silver for you.
7. Clean jewelry
Similar to the process for polishing silver, you can use aluminum foil to clean jewelry by creating an ion exchange (a molecular reaction with aluminum). Put aluminum foil in a bowl and fill it with hot water and 1 tablespoon of non-bleach powder laundry detergent. Soak the jewelry in the solution for one minute, rinse with water and air dry.
8. Battery replacement
You are desperate for a battery to turn on the flashlight. Try aluminum foil, says Melanie Musson, a home security expert for US Insurance Agents. “If your flashlight requires two C batteries but you only have one, you can fill the empty space with compacted aluminum foil.” Musson says. It may not have full power, but it will have a bit of light to get through.
9. Garden buddy
The aluminum foil will miraculously enhance your green thumb. Birds fear shiny aluminum foil because of the noise it makes. So tie strips of aluminum foil around the branches of your fruit trees, you will prevent the birds from chewing on the reward. The same goes for mice and rabbits. These creatures don’t like the feel of aluminum foil, so placing bits of it in bushes serves as a natural deterrent. Do insects bother you and eat your plants? Place aluminum foil with dirt or stones at the base of the plants. Or mix a few strips of aluminum foil into your mulch. In both cases, the foil will keep moisture in the soil and prevent weeds from growing while keeping pests at bay.
10. Custom cake pan
Don’t rush to the store every time your child wants a cake that looks like more than a rectangle. Do you need a frying pan shaped like a dog? A skillet of heart? Make the shape out of sturdy aluminum foil and place your DIY foil creation on a baking sheet large enough to fit the shape.
11. Grill cleaner
Don’t bother buying expensive grill scrubbers when a rolled ball of aluminum foil works perfectly well, Connelly says. The aluminum foil ball should be large enough (about 3 inches in diameter) to comfortably hold with tongs (remember that the grill is hot). Grab the ball of aluminum foil with the tweezers and slide it back and forth across the rack before it cools down. Chunks of food will be easier to remove when the grill is warm. If you already have stubborn burnt foods on the grill, place a piece of aluminum foil on the grill and close the grill. Light the fire and let it work for a few minutes. Then remove the foil, turn off the heat, and try the original cleaning method. It should be easier now because the aluminum sheet trapped heat to help loosen stubborn debris.
Aluminum foil is a natural heat reflector. So if you put a piece under the ironing board cover, the aluminum foil will speed up the ironing time.
Danielle Braff is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.