Aluminum foil appeared on the market in the early 1900s as a wrapper for Life Savers candy, and quickly eclipsed tin foil to become a popular helper in kitchens across the country. Today, the handy metal leaves provide a pliable substance that works as a total barrier to light and oxygen, ideal for packaging food and other perishable items. However, this convenient resource comes with a price.
Extracting aluminum has a high resource cost because of the large amount of electricity required to process bauxite ore. Far less friendly to the environment than its cousin in covering, plastic wrap, aluminum foil is nevertheless a handy item for grilling tender foods and in other instances where its quick conducting capabilities are needed.
You can buy recycled aluminum foil from companies If You Care and Reynolds, but don’t stop there. Aluminum can be recycled practically forever, and you can start by reusing your household aluminum foil after its original kitchen duties have been accomplished with one of the creative ideas below.
Wash used aluminum foil in the dishwasher or with warm water and soap, and then “iron” it flat with a rolling pin for best results. Please note that foil that has come into contact with raw meat items should never be reused.
1. Toys – Kids love aluminum foil because it can be shaped and re-shaped into all kinds of pretty metallic toys, from sailor hats and hot rods to robots, spaceships and more. Hand a child a sheet of aluminum foil and see what amazing toys he or she can create (supervise your children to make sure they don't try to eat it, of course!).
2. Scrubber – Wadded-up foil is better than steel wool at scrubbing off stuck-on food, rust and anything else. Along with simple baking soda, foil makes an excellent scrubber to scour not only pots and pans (non-stick only), but oven doors and barbeque grills as well. It also removes rust from steel and chrome, so when something needs a good scrub, use a fist full of foil to do the trick.
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3. Sharpener – Cutting foil with scissors actually sharpens the blades. Fold over used foil into seven or eight layers and then slice several times for sharpened scissors.
4. Static Eraser – Toss a small ball of reused foil in your clothes dryer for a static cling reducer that is also chemical-free.
5. Ironing Improver – Place a sheet of foil under your ironing board cover for more efficient ironing. The additional heat will iron both sides of your clothes at once.
6. Protect Plants – Young outdoor plants such as pots of tomatoes or herbs may need protection from worms and other pests. Wrap a strip of foil around the base stem of any plant to prevent critters from crawling up.
7. Home Décor – While you probably don’t want to decorate your living room with sheets of used foil, it can be used as a tool to create unique texture on paint and plaster projects.
8. Shoe Stuffer – Stuff balls of used foil into the toes of shoes and boots that you don’t wear very often to save their shape from being crushed in the closet.
9. Save Pie Crusts – Wrap your piecrusts in foil before the dessert goes in the oven, and you will never have an overcooked crust.
10. Silver Saver – Store your silverware on a sheet of aluminum foil, and it will tarnish more slowly. When you are ready to clean it, use a combination of baking soda and aluminum foil to lift away the tarnish without scrubbing.