15 Amazing Things Aluminum Foil Can Do

iStock
iStock

Aluminum foil is more than just a handy way to wrap leftovers. The thin metal sheets are all-purpose powerhouses around the house, ready to help you with your cooking, cleaning, laundry, and even home decorating. There are plenty of unusual ways to put foil to use. You can use it as a ...

1. Dish scrubber

When the rough side of your sponge isn’t enough for set-in grease and food remains, use a balled-up piece of foil to wipe your baking dishes clean. Foil works just as well on a dirty grill. 

2. Scissor sharpener 

Fold a piece of aluminum foil several times. Cut a few straight lines through the foil with your dull scissors. This cleans and sharpens the blade, sort of like a razor strop

3. Cupcake holder

Make an easy-to-carry disposable cupcake or muffin holder by lining a regular cupcake pan with a layer of foil. Make sure to push the foil all the way into the recesses of the pan, creating cupcake-shaped indents. Pop it out, and wrap the whole thing (cupcakes inside) again in foil. 

4. Makeshift funnel 

Twist a piece of foil into a cone shape, and stick it in whatever bottle (or flask—we're not judging) you’re transferring to. Just make sure to hold the foil in place, and don’t pour too much too fast, or your funnel will come apart. 

5. Grilling tray 

Image Credit: Screenshot via YouTube

Keep melty or loose food from dripping and falling into your grill by turning your metal spatulas into miniature grilling trays. Fold around two feet of heavy-duty foil in half, put a griddle spatula in the middle, and fold the foil up around it to create a tray. See an example (pictured) in this grilled cheese tutorial by Alton Brown. 

6. Vegetable crisper 

To keep celery crisp, wrap it in aluminum foil before you put it in the fridge, so when it produces ethylene gas, it doesn’t get trapped in a plastic bag. 

7. Silver polish

Silver becomes darker with age because of a chemical reaction with the sulfur in the air. Aluminum foil can help reverse the process by converting silver sulfide back into silver with the help of some baking soda and hot water. Coat the bottom of a pan with aluminum foil, and put whatever silver you’re looking to polish on top. Pour a mixture of boiling water and baking soda (one cup of baking soda for every gallon of water) into the pan, covering the silver, and wait until the tarnish disappears. If your silver is too big for a pan, use a bucket like in the video above. 

8. Dryer sheet

Image Credit: iStock

Throw a crumpled up foil ball or two into the dryer with your laundry instead of dryer sheets. While the trick doesn’t make your clothes quite as soft as a commercial softener, the foil will keep garments static-free. 

9. Gift wrap

The best gifts come in shiny packages, and there is very little difference between silver wrapping paper and the aluminum foil you have lying around your kitchen. 

10. Photography background

How to Photograph Products With Great Background Using One Light. Part One from Andrey Mikhaylov on Vimeo.

Crinkle up a large sheet of aluminum foil and tape it to the wall as a mod set piece for your photography. 

11. Light reflector 

Perk up the shadowy areas of your photos with a reflector made out of foil. Just tape foil to a large display board (like the kind you'd use for the science fair) and angle it to get the lighting conditions you want. Note that the two sides of aluminum foil aren’t the same—one is shinier. Make sure to keep the same side facing up throughout the board. 

12. Hair curler 

Wrap a piece of hair around two fingers and cover the resulting loop in foil. Clamp the packet of foil in a straight iron for a few seconds to heat up the hair, then let it cool. Instant waves. 

13. Home decor

Use recycled aluminum foil to decorate your house. The project above turns foil from the tops of cans into handmade flowers using scissors, pliers, and a glue gun. 

14. Millennium Falcon 

Image Credit: via Instructables.com

Who says aluminum foil can't be a toy? Check out this Instructable for turning a basic coloring-book image of the Star Wars Millennium Falcon into a piece of foil-relief art. Essentially, you glue an image of the space ship onto a piece of cardboard and trace its lines with tacky glue. Wrap the whole thing in foil and rub the foil into the space around the glue to create a shiny Millennium Falcon that pops. 

15. Anti-bug mulch

Reflective mulch can help keep invading insects away from your vegetable garden. Cover pieces of cardboard with aluminum foil. Cut 4-inch diameter holes and plant seeds inside, or simply lay the aluminum foil between planter beds and bury their edges in soil. One study [PDF] associated aluminum foil mulch with a 96 percent reduction in aphids over a growing season. 

BONUS: Anti-alien helmet 

Image Credit: iStock

Never forget the most tried-and-true uses for foil: to keep aliens out of your head. Instructions: Wrap foil into a skullcap. Place on head. Wear until the threat of alien invasion passes. (Or you could just accept the inevitable: These caps probably wouldn't actually stop aliens.)

22 Facts About the Solar System

Mental Floss via YouTube
Mental Floss via YouTube

So you want to know everything there is to know about the solar system? The first and most important question you might want to get out of the way is: what, exactly, isthe solar system? As Mental Floss editor-in-chief Erin McCarthy tells us, "It's a group of celestial bodies located within the Milky Way galaxy."

At the center of these bodies is the Sun, which is orbited by eight planets; more than 150 moons; and millions of meteoroids, comets, asteroids, and a handful of dwarf planets (sorry, Pluto). But it's the Sun—a.k.a. that shining, 4.5 billion-year-old star in the middle of it all—that accounts for 99 percent of the solar system's total mass. (Think about that the next time you're shading your eyes from its glare.)

In this all-new edition of The List Show, Erin is sharing nearly two dozen fascinating facts about our solar system, including the reasoning behind Pluto's demotion (blame it on Eris, the first known dwarf planet). For more out-of-this-world facts, you can watch the full episode below.

For more episodes like this one, be sure to subscribe here.

The 20 Best TV Shows on Netflix, According to Subscribers

JoJo Whilden, Netflix
JoJo Whilden, Netflix

With thousands of titles to choose from, in the time it can take a Netflix subscriber to choose what to watch next, they could be two episodes deep into a new TV series binge-watch. But as Variety reports, a recent survey conducted by HarrisX and commissioned by MoffettNathanson is helping to reduce the amount of browsing you'll need to do by going straight to the source and asking more than 11,000 Netflix subscribers to cite their favorite shows that are currently streaming on the platform. And the results were somewhat surprising.

  1. Orange is the New Black
  1. Stranger Things
  1. Movies (Catch-all category)
  1. Ozark
  1. Grace and Frankie
  1. Black Mirror
  1. Lucifer
  1. The Crown
  1. The Office
  1. Friends
  1. Dead to Me
  1. Supernatural
  1. Daredevil
  1. The Ranch
  1. House of Cards
  1. Santa Clara Diet
  1. Jessica Jones
  1. 13 Reasons Why
  1. Fuller House
  1. Breaking Bad

As Variety notes, the fact that 15 of the 20 top favorites are Netflix originals rather than licensed shows means that the company will likely continue investing in original content. This might help them out when both Friends and The Office leave the streaming service in 2020 and 2021, respectively.

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