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15 Things You Didn’t Know Your Hair Dryer Could Do

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You know a good hair dryer can fight frizz, tame cowlicks, and accentuate curls and layers. But its other functions might blow you away. You don't need to be a stylist to use your hair dryer as any of these things.

1. SHOE SIZER

Breaking in new shoes can be a painful process. Skip the wait—and the blisters—by putting on a pair of thick socks, stepping into your new kicks, and then blow-drying the tight areas for a few minutes. Walk around until your feet cool off to loosen up the leather. Be careful using this method on synthetics, though; it's possible to melt the shoes on too high a setting. 

2. GLASSES ADJUSTER

If your glasses are too tight or too loose, here's how to get them just right: Take off your frames and use a hair dryer to blow hot air on the part that hooks over your ears. After a minute or so, gently adjust the bend up to loosen or down to tighten. Repeat on the other side. Spec-tacular! 

3. STICKER REMOVER

Price tags and other stickers can be a pain to remove, unless you've got a hair dryer to loosen the adhesive’s hold. Blast the pesky paper for 30 to 45 seconds and peel it right off. (With some patience and a lot of heat, you can get bumper stickers off this way, too.) 

4. BAND-AID PEELER

The previous trick doesn’t just work on inanimate objects. Don't rip off a Band-Aid—and all your arm hair. Blow some warm air on it for a few seconds and peel it off painlessly. 

5. GUM CLEANER 

When chewing gum gets stuck in carpet or clothing, don't curse. Find your hair dryer! Heat softens the gum so you can pull it out. 

6. AIR MATTRESS INFLATER

Can't find the pump to the air mattress you last used in 2003? Impress your houseguest by inflating it with a hair dryer. Just make sure you use cool air—there's nothing hospitable about a melted bed. 

7. EYELASH CURLER

Combine an eyelash curler and hair dryer for maximum curl power. Blast the curler for a few seconds on medium heat and then check the temperature on your wrist before using. 

8. CAKE FROSTER

Bakery-style frosting is a piece of cake. Lightly blow warm air over your dessert's frosted top and sides for a glossy finish. 

9. SHOE SHINER

Shoes look brand new when you blast them with some heat between coats of polish. Shine on!

10. ICE CREAM THAWER

Scooping ice cream shouldn't be an upper-body workout. Give your frozen Ben & Jerry's pint a quick blast of warm air for easy transfer from the container to your bowl to your mouth. 

11. SPOT IRON

A completely wrinkled cotton garment requires an iron. Everything else can be tamed by your hair dryer. Hang the garment up, spray a little water on it, and then blast it with hot air from an inch or two away until the wrinkle disappears. If you're really in a hurry, you can even do this carefully with your clothes on. 

12. TOWEL WARMER

Some people have fancy heated towel racks and use the word "summer" as a verb. The rest of us have a hair dryer to make towels toasty and use "summer" strictly as a noun. (You can also do this with sheets in the winter for that cozy, straight-out-of-the-dryer feeling.) 

13. CRAYON CLEANER

When the muse calls, young artists listen, which can result in crayon all over the wall. Blow hot air to melt the wax, then wipe it up with regular dish soap and a paper towel. This trick works on most walls, but you should start with a test spot just to be sure—some walls can be prone to "ghosting" when the image doesn’t quite disappear.

14. ART MEDIUM

Then again, maybe you like the look of crayon on the wall. If so, here's an even cooler way to do it. Peel the labels off a pack of crayons and hot glue them to the top of a blank canvas. Once the glue's dry, put some newspaper on a table and then prop the canvas at an angle crayon-side up. Melt the crayons by blowing hot air on a low setting, so you won't get wax everywhere. Go all Jackson Pollock and vary the tilt to control the drips. Once your masterpiece is dry, you can hang it up or sell it for $1 million. Your choice. 

15. KEYBOARD DECRUMBER

There's a good chance you're reading this while eating at your computer. No worries—just make sure you clean up your keyboard every now and then. Instead of a compressed air duster, try using your hair dryer to excavate the crumbs. Stick to cool air to avoid melting your spacebar.

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15 Confusing Plant and Animal Misnomers
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People have always given names to the plants and animals around us. But as our study of the natural world has developed, we've realized that many of these names are wildly inaccurate. In fact, they often have less to say about nature than about the people who did the naming. Here’s a batch of these befuddling names.

1. COMMON NIGHTHAWK

There are two problems with this bird’s name. First, the common nighthawk doesn’t fly at night—it’s active at dawn and dusk. Second, it’s not a hawk. Native to North and South America, it belongs to a group of birds with an even stranger name: Goatsuckers. People used to think that these birds flew into barns at night and drank from the teats of goats. (In fact, they eat insects.)

2. IRISH MOSS

It’s not a moss—it’s a red alga that lives along the rocky shores of the northern Atlantic Ocean. Irish moss and other red algae give us carrageenan, a cheap food thickener that you may have eaten in gummy candies, soy milk, ice cream, veggie hot dogs, and more.

3. FISHER-CAT

Native to North America, the fisher-cat isn’t a cat at all: It’s a cousin of the weasel. It also doesn’t fish. Nobody’s sure where the fisher cat’s name came from. One possibility is that early naturalists confused it with the sea mink, a similar-looking creature that was an expert fisher. But the fisher-cat prefers to eat land animals. In fact, it’s one of the few creatures that can tackle a porcupine.

4. AMERICAN BLUE-EYED GRASS

American blue-eyed grass doesn’t have eyes (which is good, because that would be super creepy). Its blue “eyes” are flowers that peek up at you from a meadow. It’s also not a grass—it’s a member of the iris family.

5. MUDPUPPY

The mudpuppy isn’t a cute, fluffy puppy that scampered into some mud. It’s a big, mucus-covered salamander that spends all of its life underwater. (It’s still adorable, though.) The mudpuppy isn’t the only aquatic salamander with a weird name—there are many more, including the greater siren, the Alabama waterdog, and the world’s most metal amphibian, the hellbender.

6. WINGED DRAGONFISH

This weird creature has other fantastic and inaccurate names: brick seamoth, long-tailed dragonfish, and more. It’s really just a cool-looking fish. Found in the waters off of Asia, it has wing-like fins, and spends its time on the muddy seafloor.

7. NAVAL SHIPWORM

The naval shipworm is not a worm. It’s something much, much weirder: a kind of clam with a long, wormlike body that doesn’t fit in its tiny shell. It uses this modified shell to dig into wood, which it eats. The naval shipworm, and other shipworms, burrow through all sorts of submerged wood—including wooden ships.

8. WHIP SPIDERS

These leggy creatures are not spiders; they’re in a separate scientific family. They also don’t whip anything. Whip spiders have two long legs that look whip-like, but that are used as sense organs—sort of like an insect’s antennae. Despite their intimidating appearance, whip spiders are harmless to humans.

9. VELVET ANTS

A photograph of a velvet ant
Craig Pemberton, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

There are thousands of species of velvet ants … and all are wasps, not ants. These insects have a fuzzy, velvety look. Don’t pat them, though—velvet ants aren’t aggressive, but the females pack a powerful sting.

10. SLOW WORM

The slow worm is not a worm. It’s a legless reptile that lives in parts of Europe and Asia. Though it looks like a snake, it became legless through a totally separate evolutionary path from the one snakes took. It has many traits in common with lizards, such as eyelids and external ear holes.

11. TRAVELER'S PALM

This beautiful tree from Madagascar has been planted in tropical gardens all around the world. It’s not actually a palm, but belongs to a family that includes the bird of paradise flower. In its native home, the traveler’s palm reproduces with the help of lemurs that guzzle its nectar and spread pollen from tree to tree.

12. VAMPIRE SQUID

Drawing of a vampire squid
Carl Chun, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

This deep-sea critter isn’t a squid. It’s the only surviving member of a scientific order that has characteristics of both octopuses and squids. And don’t let the word “vampire” scare you; it only eats bits of falling marine debris (dead stuff, poop, and so on), and it’s only about 11 inches long.

13. MALE FERN & LADY FERN

Early botanists thought that these two ferns belonged to the same species. They figured that the male fern was the male of the species because of its coarse appearance. The lady fern, on the other hand, has lacy fronds and seemed more ladylike. Gender stereotypes aside, male and lady Ferns belong to entirely separate species, and almost all ferns can make both male and female reproductive cells. If ferns start looking manly or womanly to you, maybe you should take a break from botany.

14. TENNESSEE WARBLER

You will never find a single Tennessee warbler nest in Tennessee. This bird breeds mostly in Canada, and spends the winter in Mexico and more southern places. But early ornithologist Alexander Wilson shot one in 1811 in Tennessee during its migration, and the name stuck.

15. CANADA THISTLE

Though it’s found across much of Canada, this spiky plant comes from Europe and Asia. Early European settlers brought Canada thistle seeds to the New World, possibly as accidental hitchhikers in grain shipments. A tough weed, the plant soon spread across the continent, taking root in fields and pushing aside crops. So why does it have this inaccurate name? Americans may have been looking for someone to blame for this plant—so they blamed Canada.

A version of this story originally ran in 2015.

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18 Tea Infusers to Make Teatime More Exciting
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Cost Plus World Market

Make steeping tea more fun with these quirky tea infusers.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

1. SOAKING IT UP; $7.49

man-shaped tea infuser
Amazon

That mug of hot water might eventually be a drink for you, but first it’s a hot bath for your new friend, who has special pants filled with tea.

Buy on Amazon.

2. A FLYING TEA BOX; $25.98

There’s no superlaser on this Death Star, just tea.

Buy on Amazon.

3. SPACE STATION; $9.99

astronaut tea infuser
ThinkGeek

This astronaut's mission? Orbit the rim of your mug until you're ready to pull the space station diffuser out.

Buy on ThinkGeek.

4. BE REFINED; $12.99

This pipe works best with Earl Grey.

Buy on Amazon.

5. A RIBBITING OPTION; $10.93

This frog hangs on to the side of your mug with a retractable tongue. When the tea is ready, you can put him back on his lily pad.

Buy on Amazon.

6. ‘TEA’ ALL LIVE IN A YELLOW SUBMARINE; $5.95

It’s just like the movie, only with tea instead of Beatles.

Buy on Amazon.

7. SHARK ATTACK; $6.99

shark tea infuser
Cost Plus World Market

This fearsome shark patrols the bottom of your mug waiting for prey. For extra fun, use red tea to look like the end of a feeding frenzy.

Buy at Cost Plus World Market.

8. PERFECT FOR A RAINY DAY; $12.40

This umbrella’s handle conveniently hooks to the side of your mug.

Buy on Amazon.

9. AN EGGCELLENT INFUSER; $5.75

cracked egg tea infuser
Amazon

Sometimes infusers are called tea eggs, and this one takes the term to a new, literal level.

Buy on Amazon.

10. FOR SQUIRRELY DRINKERS; $8.95

If you’re all right with a rodent dunking its tail into your drink, this is the infuser for you.

Buy on Amazon.

11. HANGING OUT; $12.85

This pug is happy to hang onto your mug and keep you company while you wait for the tea to be ready.

Buy on Amazon.

12. ANOTHER SHARK OPTION; $5.99

If you thought letting that other shark infuser swim around in the deep water of your glass was too scary, this one perches on the edge, too busy comping on your mug to worry about humans.

Buy on Amazon.

13. RUBBER DUCKIE, YOU’RE THE ONE; $8.95

Let this rubber duckie peacefully float in your cup and make teatime lots of fun.

Buy on Amazon.

14. DIVING DEEP; $8.25

This old-timey deep-sea diver comes with an oxygen tank that you can use to pull it out.

Buy on Amazon.

15. MAKE SWEET TEA; $10

This lollipop won't actually make your tea any sweeter, but you can always add some sugar after.

Buy on Amazon.

16. A SEASONAL FAVORITE; $7.67

When Santa comes, give him some tea to go with the cookies.

Buy on Amazon.

17. FLORAL TEA; $14.99

Liven up any cup of tea with this charming flower. When you’re done, you can pop it right back into its pot.

Buy on Live Infused.

18. KEEP IT TRADITIONAL; $7.97

If you’re nostalgic for the regular kind of tea bag, you can get reusable silicon ones that look almost the same.

Buy on Amazon.

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