25 Things You Didn't Know You Could Do With Peanut Butter

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iStock

Most people know peanut butter as a staple from their childhood lunches or something that gets stuck to the roof of their mouth. But its applications extend far beyond the lunchbox. From making repairs around the home to making precious gemstones, here are some surprising things you can do with the protein-packed spread.

1. MAKE A GLOW-IN-THE-DARK SCIENCE EXPERIMENT

Hand holding green laser pointer.
Sarah Sotin, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

If you ever need something to do during a power outage, try experimenting with a sealed jar of peanut butter and a laser pointer. The crushing and heating process used to make peanut butter produces phenols, organic compounds that absorb light. Exposing fresh peanut butter to the violet light of a laser pointer will cause the phenols to glow green for a few seconds at a time.

2. GET YOUR MORNING CAFFEINE FIX

Jars of caffeinated peanut butter.
STEEM

Peanut butter doesn't normally contain caffeine, but a serving of STEEM peanut butter packs more than a cup of coffee. Because it takes our bodies longer to absorb peanut butter than liquid coffee, the company claims that the caffeinated version of the treat offers a longer lasting energy boost than straight java—and will do it without any of the jittery side effects.

3. TURN IT INTO DIAMONDS

Tweezers holding a diamond.
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Peanut butter isn't considered a high-end product, but subject it to the extreme conditions of the Earth's mantle and that could change. A researcher in Germany successfully made a synthetic diamond using peanut butter as his source of carbon. The substance had to be squeezed with pressure 1.3 million times that of our atmosphere before a diamond was formed. But don't expect the peanut butter diamonds to be studding engagement rings anytime soon: The results were puny and impure compared to what's sold in jewelry stores.

4. REMOVE GUM

Girl blowing bubble gum with a brick wall behind her
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Maybe you fell asleep with gum in your mouth, or you blew a bubble that was just too big for your own good. Whatever the reason, odds are that you've gotten gum stuck in your hair at one point or another. In such cases, peanut butter has prevented many unwanted trips to the hairdresser. The oils in the product make gum less pliable and sticky, therefore easier to massage out of hair. The quick fix also works to free gum from other surfaces like clothing.

5. TREAT HICCUPS

Woman eating peanut butter with a spoon.
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Peanut butter is one of the lesser-known purported hiccup cures, but some people swear by it. The idea is that slowly consuming something thick and gooey like peanut butter will break up your swallowing and breathing patterns and dispel the hiccups. It also sounds way more enjoyable than holding your breath or standing on your head.

6. FEED ASTRONAUTS

Half-eaten peanut butter sandwich.
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Dining options are limited on the International Space Station, but even in space peanut butter sandwiches make an appearance on the menu. Assembling the meal up there isn't as easy as laying out the components on your kitchen counter. Instead of a jar, the peanut butter astronauts eat is stored in a flat-packed squeeze tube.

7. MAKE BAIT FOR FISH

Man fishing in a lake.
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Forget fancy lures: According to some experienced fishermen, peanut butter sandwiches make some of the best bait for catching codfish, catfish, carp, and bluegill. Prepare it on stale bread and garnish it with birdseed or garlic to make it especially irresistible.

8. REPAIR SCRATCHES

DVD with scratches.
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Depending on how long you’ve been holding on to it, your favorite CD or DVD likely has a scratch or two. But there's no reason to retire your scuffed-up discs for good: All you need is some peanut butter to extend the lifespan of your collection. Lightly rub the damaged surface with the peanut butter, set it down for a short while, and then remove the excess with a cloth. The scratches will still be there, but the oils from the peanuts will temporarily fill them in and smooth them out. You can also try the trick with your scratched-up wood furniture.

9. GET A HORSE TO "TALK"

Horse with its mouth open.
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Before the age of CGI, the makers of the sitcom Mister Ed used a much simpler method to get their equine star to "talk." The producers claimed that when they put peanut butter in the horse's mouth, he would move his lips to try to get it out. They dubbed the dialogue over this footage to create the illusion of a talking horse. (Though according to one theory, a wire attached to the horse's head was the primary source of the special effect.)

10. USE IT AS SHAVING CREAM

Razor sitting on the edge of a bath tub.
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If you're open to mixing up your grooming routine, consider swapping your shaving gel with peanut butter. It's cheaper, works just as well, and, as a bonus, nourishes your skin with natural oils. Give it a shot if you don't mind smelling nutty and delicious for the rest of the day.

11. ESCAPE FROM PRISON

Cell doors in a prison hallway.
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A group of prisoners at the Walker County Jail in Alabama were able to escape confinement using nothing but peanut butter and some clever deception. After smearing peanut butter on the numbers above their cell so it matched the number of the door leading outside, the inmates asked a new guard to let them into what they claimed to be their cell. From the control room, he inadvertently opened the front door and the escapees were able to walk right out. Despite the breakout, peanut butter sandwiches are still served at the prison.

12. REMOVE STICKERS

Price sticker on green background.
Alex Liivet, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Peanut butter works the same magic on hard-to-peel stickers as it does on gum. Once you have your new purchase, peel off as much of the price sticker as possible and scrub away the stubborn residue with a dab of peanut butter. Peanut butter is also a great nontoxic way to remove stickers and glue from produce.

13. COOK SAVORY DISHES

Ramen in a bowl on a table.
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It's no secret that peanut butter shines in sugary treats, whether in a cupcake or a candy bar. But peanut butter works just as well as a savory ingredient. If you have a jar in your pantry, you can add a dollop to punch up your instant ramen, or use it as a thickener in sauces or stews.

14. PREVENT DISEASE

Tools for making a peanut butter sandwich spread out on a table.
iStock

You may already know that peanut butter is a great source of fiber and protein, but according to one study, the health benefits of eating the snack while you're young may extend to later in life. Researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Harvard Medical School found that women who consumed peanut butter on a regular basis between ages 9 and 15 decreased their chances of developing benign breast disease by age 30 by 39 percent.

15. BUILD A BIRD FEEDER

You may remember this one from summer camp—to build a cheap bird feeder at home, all you need is a pine cone, some peanut butter, bird seed, and string. Cover the pine cone in the peanut butter before rolling it in the seed to coat it. Use a string to hang it up from a nearby tree branch and watch the birds in your backyard gather to enjoy the homemade treat.

16. USE IT AS FROSTING

Cupcake with peanut butter frosting.
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Looking for a more nutritious alternative to sugary frosting? Peanut butter makes the perfect topping for your baked goods. Spread it on chocolate cupcakes, cookies, or even doughnuts.

17. KEEP PETS OCCUPIED

Dog chewing a toy.
Alan Levine, Flickr // Public Domain

If dogs love one thing more than playtime with their humans, it's peanut butter. The ingredient can be used to make a toy that your pet won't rip apart or get bored with after two minutes. Get your hands on a Kong or a similar hollow, rubber chew toy and fill it with a generous spoonful of peanut butter. While your dog spends the afternoon figuring out how to get it out, you can enjoy a few hours of peace and quiet.

18. MAKE EDIBLE SCULPTING DOUGH

Sticking a finger in a jar of peanut butter.
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Peanut butter is messier than real Play-Doh, but it's also a lot tastier. Mix half a cup of it with one cup of powdered sugar and two tablespoons of honey to get a material that's the perfect consistency for rolling, shaping, and squeezing. And once your creations are complete, they can make a wholesome post-playtime bite.

19. MAKE MEDICINE MORE APPEALING

Dog being fed peanut butter.
iStock

This trick is a favorite with parents of pets and kids. Before giving a pill to a dog, cat, or young child, hide it in a gob of peanut butter. The medication they turned their noses up at moments ago suddenly becomes a lot easier to swallow.

20. GET A POST-WORKOUT PROTEIN BOOST

Lacing up shoes before a workout.
iStock

Fueling up right after exercising is essential to replenishing your energy stores and repairing and building up muscles. Peanut butter is one of the best foods you can include in your post-workout snack. The carbs, fats, and proteins in a serving are exactly what your body needs after being pushed to the limit.

21. QUALITY TEST PRODUCTS

Open jar of peanut butter.
iStock

The world's most perfect jar of peanut butter is produced by the federal government. At a price of $220 for a 6-ounce jar, the National Institute of Standards and Technology sells the flawless spread to food manufacturers developing their own peanut-based products. By testing "Standard Reference Material No. 2387" in the lab, they can see how the vitamin, mineral, and aflatoxin levels in their own peanut butters stack up.

22. BUILD A 444-POUND PEANUT BUTTER CUP

Peanut butter cups on a table.
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In 2015, a Los Angeles-area candy shop lined a plastic kiddie pool with melted chocolate and filled it with peanut butter in an attempt to break the world record for largest peanut butter cup. The monstrous confection ended up weighing 444 pounds. Afterwards, it was broken up into smaller pieces and sold to raise money for charity.

23. USE IT AS CONDITIONER

Woman brushing her hair in the mirror.
iStock

You don't have to wait to get gum stuck in your hair to lather it up with peanut butter. The oils and nutrients it contains make it a great natural alternative to leave-in conditioner. Just work it into your hair, allow it to sit for a while, and wash it out to find vibrant, lustrous locks underneath.

24. MAKE A FACEMASK

The same properties that make peanut butter a nourishing hair treatment also make it a soothing face mask. A peanut butter facial works best on dry skin and shouldn't be applied to faces that are already oily.

25. SHINE LEATHER

Hand cleaning a leather sofa.
iStock

Your dull leather is only a few dabs of peanut butter away from looking as good as new. Rub it into the material you want to shine by making tiny circles with your fingers, then use a towel or washcloth to wipe it off. The polishing hack also works on leather shoes.

10 Common Road Hazards and How to React to Them

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iStock.com/LeManna

James Solomon has been a defensive driving expert with the National Safety Council for 34 years. He has taught driving courses for 47 years. And one of the best pieces of advice he can give has absolutely nothing to do with an automobile.

“If it sounds like there might be inclement weather the next day,” Solomon tells Mental Floss, “set your alarm an hour early. You’ll have enough time to get up, clean your car off, and drive slowly.”

That's especially sound advice for a good part of the country, as the winter season means more driving perils, including poor visibility, snowbanks, and ice. Other road hazards like fog, deer, and road-hogging commercial trucks never seem to take a break. For some practical advice on what to do in these situations, we asked Solomon to break down 10 common driving obstacles and the best ways to cope with them. Here’s what he had to say.

1. DRIVING ON ICY ROADS

A sign warns of a slippery road ahead
iStock.com/trendobjects

Nothing can jolt a driver like the sudden loss of control of their automobile after hitting a slick patch of pavement. While some ice is noticeable, “black ice”—which occurs when ice has thawed and re-frozen—can be hard to spot.

What to Do: If your car goes into a skid or loses traction, the best thing to do is remove your foot off the accelerator. “You don’t want power of any kind going to the wheels,” Solomon says. If you have standard braking, keep your foot entirely off the brake. If you have an automatic braking system (ABS), which is pretty much standard in most newer cars, you want to push the pedal down and wait for the car to regain traction. Don’t pump the pedal: The ABS can pulsate the brakes faster than your foot can.

You also want to turn the wheel in the direction you want the front of the car to go. “Once the vehicle begins to straighten out, counter-steer in the opposite direction,” Solomon says. “Steering and counter-steering should be done three to five times while braking.” Keep doing it until you feel the wheels grip the pavement.

2. GETTING STUCK IN A SNOW BANK

A car tire is stuck in snow
iStock.com/JaysonPhotography

After a heavy snowfall, you might return to your car to find the wheels surrounded by snow. As they spin, they can’t find any grip on the slick powder, and you’re going nowhere fast.

What to Do: A little foresight is best here. Solomon advises you keep a shovel, brush, and a pair of traction mats in your trunk. (Kitty litter may also work for traction, but the mats are reusable.) If you’re stuck, make sure you have enough room to move the car forward and backward and that there isn’t any snow blocking the exhaust pipe. Clear the snow away from the wheels and try moving forward or in reverse. If that doesn’t work, put the mats under the front wheels (for front-wheel drive) or under the back wheels (for a rear-wheel drive). Once the wheels are on the mat, try turning to get away from the snow. Solomon cautions to watch out for passing traffic, as other drivers might have trouble spotting you.

3. DRIVING IN HEAVY RAIN

Heavy rain falls on a car windshield
iStock.com/Willowpix

People don’t always think of a torrential downpour the same way they think of a snowstorm, but heavy rain can impede visibility and cause hydroplaning, where the wheels come off the pavement and onto the surface of the water, causing drivers to lose control.

What to Do: For any type of driving in the rain, make sure your tire tread depth is no less than 5/32 of an inch, and preferably much more: new tires typically start around 10/32 of an inch. A worn tire at 2/32 of an inch is asking for a crash, as the stopping distance of a car is increased and traction is reduced. You can estimate depth by sticking a penny upside-down in the tread: If the top of Lincoln's head is visible, it's time for new tires.

Solomon also recommends changing your wipers regularly: a more durable winter blade, a March rain blade, and another August rain blade. And make sure they’re not being held back by your cleaning habits. “If you’re going through car washes and they’re using wax, the wipers are going to be sliding over that,” he says. A wax stripper found at automotive stores can erase that residue, clearing your windshield and allowing your wipes to make better contact with the glass. “The first time you spray it on, you’ll get a crusty, filmy look, which is all the wax you’re dissolving.”

If your windshield is clean but the rain is still obscuring your vision, then you’re probably driving too fast for the wipers to clean the glass efficiently. If it’s that bad, pull over to the side of the road and wait for the downpour to ease up. But never, ever park under an overpass. “You’re a sitting duck there,” Solomon says. “You’re stopped with a guardrail or pillar next to you and your transmission locked. If you’re struck by another vehicle, there’s no place for your car to go. That’s a huge amount of weight hitting you.”

4. BLINDED BY GLARE

A driver observes sun coming through the car windshield
iStock.com/xijian

Winter or summer, the sun sometimes has a way of shining through your windshield just the right angle to effectively blind you. Keeping a pair of sunglasses handy is the best solution, but there are a few other ways to cope.

What to Do: “All cars come equipped with a sun visor,” Solomon says. “The problem is when people pull it down and the edge is pointed at your nose. In a collision, your face will slam right into it.”

Instead, pull the visor down and then push it all the way toward the windshield, then slowly bring it forward until it blocks the sun. (The bottom should still be pointed away from you and toward the windshield. Solomon also keeps a baseball cap in his car so he can use the bill to block the sun without obstructing his view. If glare is coming from the left-side window, remember that most visors are detachable on one end and should be able to pivot and block peripheral light.

5. A TIRE BLOWOUT

A car tire rests on the ground after a blowout
iStock.com/batuhan toker

While some tires may pick up a stray nail or sharp object and deflate slowly, others lose pressure suddenly. If you’re down to three good tires, you’re no longer in a position to drive safely on the road.

What to Do: “The big mistake people make with a sudden loss of pressure is to hit the brake and stop to save the tire,” Solomon says. “But if the air went out that quick, the tire is gone.”

Instead of trying to salvage the tire, focus on getting off the road. If you’ve lost pressure, you want to continue traveling in a straight direction until you can stop. If the tire’s sidewall blows out, the car will probably move in the opposite direction of the break. A blown front right tire will cause the vehicle to drift left, for example. “Drive with two hands on the wheel, put your emergency flashers on, check your mirrors, and get over to the right shoulder of the road if at all possible,” Solomon says. “If you’re in a skid, you may have to keep your foot on the accelerator a little bit to force the wheel to move forward.”

Check your tire pressure at least once a week, especially in winter, when the pressure can drop. But if it suddenly turns warmer, make sure to let the air escape. An overinflated tire can cause the side tread to leave the surface, leaving only the center tread in contact with the road. Your owner's manual or a label inside of the driver's side door will tell you the correct tire pressure for the vehicle.

6. BRAKE FAILURE

A foot presses on a brake pedal
iStock.com/Kameleon007

The ability to stop a vehicle is probably the most important function of all, and when it fails, it’s easy for panic to set in. If you’re pushing the brake pedal and nothing is happening, you need to take immediate action.

What to Do: First, don’t assume your brake lights are still working. “Hit your emergency flashers and pump the brake quickly three or four times,” Solomon says. If that doesn’t work, you need to take a lightning-fast look at the floor mat. It’s not uncommon for the mat to get bunched up behind the brake pedal, making it hard to move. Dislodging it while the vehicle is in motion is dangerous, so prevention is key: Make sure your mat is the right fit for your vehicle, is snapped in place if that option is available, and that you haven't stacked mats on top of each other.

If that looks clear, then go into neutral. “You want to deprive the car of forward motion,” Solomon says. Once you’re in neutral, take your emergency brake—typically a lever with a button on the side console—and begin pumping it up and down. (Some cars have an electronic brake that only requires a button push. Read your owner’s manual.) The brake should lock up the rear wheels and allow the car to come to a stop.

7. SOMEONE IS TAILGATING YOU

A car is seen in a rearview mirror
iStock.com/Ryan Herron

Having a vehicle riding too close to your rear bumper can be a nerve-wracking experience. If you need to brake suddenly, the car is likely to collide with yours. If you honk, flash your lights, or make an insulting hand gesture, you run the risk of antagonizing someone who is already behaving irrationally.

What to Do: “What I want to do is encourage them to pass me,” Solomon says. “If I can, I’ll signal, move to the right-hand lane, and that will generally take care of it.” If you can’t, wait for an intersection so you can make a right turn or drive into a service station. Just don’t engage them: “There’s nothing you’re going to do to stop them from tailgating you. Tricks like tapping your brakes—well, no, you’re dealing with an aggressive person and you’re only going to make them more angry.”

8. GETTING STUCK BEHIND A COMMERCIAL TRUCK

Commercial trucks take up both lanes of a road
iStock.com/esemelwe

Feeling the rush of wind that accompanies a passing 18-wheeler can give you a healthy respect for these road behemoths. If you’re behind one, they can make it difficult to see what’s ahead. If you’re behind two, or in the middle of them, you might start to feel trapped.

What to Do: It’s important to determine whether the truck driver is aware of your existence before you attempt to pass. “If I can’t see the driver’s rear-view mirror, he can’t see me,” Solomon says. “If I can see their reflection, then they can probably see me.”

A good rule of thumb is to add an extra second of following distance to the recommended three seconds for most drivers. (Following distance is the amount of time it would take for your car to pass a landmark, like a roadside sign, after the driver in front of you has passed it.) In bad weather, Solomon says to increase it to seven or even 12 seconds to avoid debris and snow hitting your windshield.

If you’re stuck between trucks on a three-lane highway, decrease your speed by about five miles and let both trucks overtake you. Eventually, one will go faster than the other, and you’ll be able to choose your lane. The same holds true for buses.

9. DRIVING IN FOG

A road is covered in fog
iStock.com/Cha_DZ

It makes for fine gothic horror movies and ‘80s music videos, but fog is otherwise a hazard. Driving through it can reduce visibility in a manner similar to a bad snowfall.

What to Do: Your instinct might be to put on your high beams to better illuminate the road ahead. Don’t. “You’ll wind up seeing less,” Solomon says. “The beam shines further into the fog and reflects off the water particulates, shining the light right back into your eyes.” Instead, keep your lights dim and slow down.

10. DEER CROSSINGS

A deer crossing sign is posted next to a road
iStock.com/jimkruger

Back roads can often be nestled directly in the path of deer, animals that have no understanding of passing traffic and can appear out of nowhere. Even if you manage to avoid hitting one, a yearling could be nearby, ready to do serious damage in a collision. In this case, responsibility falls strictly on you to avoid an accident. “Deer don’t look both ways before crossing,” Solomon says.

What to Do: If you’re in deer country and it’s dark, you can try flashing your headlights to get a deer’s attention. They might take it as a sign to hang back. If you see a deer up ahead, take your foot off the gas to slow your speed, then flash your lights. This may make it run off the road. If not, it’s time to brake: Swerving off the road at highway speeds is risky and can cause serious injury to the driver and passengers. Always read the road ahead. You don’t want an animal that large smashing through your windshield. And as bad as it may sound, it will be even worse if they survive the impact. “If it’s not dead, it will be kicking, with sharp hooves and antlers,” Solomon says.

Get to the side of the road immediately and exit the car. If traffic is high or the road is narrow, go through the passenger’s side door. Above all, take the deer crossing signs seriously and go slow. “When you see those signs, it wasn’t because the state or county had some extra money and thought they’d go put them up,” Solomon says. “It means there have been problems with deer crossing the road.”

5 Holiday Foods That Are Dangerous to Pets

iStock/svetikd
iStock/svetikd

One of the best parts of the holiday season is the menu of indulgent food and drinks that comes along with it. But while you enjoy that cup of spiked hot cocoa, you’ve got to be careful your dog or cat doesn’t nab a lick. Here are five holiday treats that are dangerous for your pets, according to Vetstreet.

1. COFFEE

Any coffee lover will agree that there’s nothing quite like an after-dinner cup of joe on a cold night. But pups, kitties, and other pets will have to sit this tradition out. Caffeine can prompt seizures and abnormal heart rhythms in pets, and can sometimes be fatal. Other caffeinated drinks, such as soda or tea, should also be kept away from your four-legged family members.

2. BREAD DOUGH

We know the threat that bread dough poses to the appearance of our thighs, but it’s much more dangerous to our furry little friends. Holiday bakers have to be careful of unbaked bread dough as it can expand in animal stomachs if ingested. In some dogs, the stomach can twist and cut off the blood supply, in which case the pup would need emergency surgery.

3. CHOCOLATE

Cat and dog in Santa hats chowing down on plates of food
iStock/TatyanaGl

A little chocolate never hurt anybody, right? Wrong. The sweet treat can cause seizures and even be fatal to our pets. Darker chocolate, such as the baker’s chocolate we love to put in our holiday cookies, is more toxic to our pets than milk or white chocolate. The toxic ingredients include caffeine and theobromine, a chemical found in the cacao plant.

4. MACADAMIA NUTS

Macadamia nuts, which are a common ingredient in holiday cookies and often put out to munch on as an appetizer, can be toxic to dogs. While poisoning might not always be easy to detect in a pet, clinical warning signs include depression, weakness, vomiting, tremors, joint stiffness, and lack of coordination.

5. ALCOHOL

Think back to when you first started drinking and how much less alcohol it took to get you tipsy, because you likely weighed less than you do now. Well, your pet probably weighs a lot less than you did, even back then, meaning it takes much less alcohol to make them dangerously sick. Keep those wine glasses far out of reach of your pets in order to avoid any issues. Well, maybe not any issue: We can’t promise that this will stop you from getting embarrassingly drunk at a holiday party this year.

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