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Alternate uses for food

A recent video on this site which shows how to use peanut butter to fix scratches on a DVD got me thinking about other foods we use in nonfood ways:

People on TV sitcoms and in cartoons always use raw steak to put on a black eye. Personally, I've never seen anyone do this in real life but I'm sure it's been done.

Kids use pasta/macaroni for art projects in grammar school.

Mr. Potato head and all of his relatives and friends (the original sets also suggested using onions, peppers, oranges, etc.)

Oatmeal is used to exfoliate the skin.

Butter and Crisco are used as sexual lubricants.

What can you add to the list?

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  1. Vinegar as a cleaner.
    Baking soda as a cleaner, toothpaste, air deodorizer.
    Olive oil in DIY cosmetics.
    Sugar and salt in DIY exfoliants.
    Avocado, cucumber and various fruits and vegetables in face masks, etc.

    1. Per Lady Gaga, meat as a dress.

      4 Replies
      1. re: sbp

        Love that one! But credit must be given to Argentine designer Franc Fernandez and stylist Nicola Formichetti.

        1. re: ttoommyy

          how about also giving cred to jana sterbak... since all of the above totally bit her original 1987 artwork.

        2. For a junior high school project, I made a replica of the Coliseum with sugar cubes and Elmers Glue. Lots of sugar cubes.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Veggo

            I did the Pyramid of Giza. I think mine was easier!

            1. Well, chicken wings, backs, and necks make fine crab bait. And, in college, the team doctor used to suggest putting any frozen stuff we had in the dorm on our contusions - peas, pizza, margarita mix. Then again, he used to hand out codeine and benzedrine quite often too.

              6 Replies
              1. re: MGZ

                And don't forget a rice sock in the microwave to provide moist heat!

                1. re: kattyeyes

                  A microwaved potato works real well too and hold the heat longer than rice

                  1. re: scubadoo97

                    You apply that to, say, a sore shoulder or back? Don't you make mashed badadas?! How does that go?

                    1. re: kattyeyes

                      Great for applying heat to a facial abscess, sty....

                  2. re: kattyeyes

                    Hell, this was the 80s. No one used moist heat. Ice was the rage. Painkillers were to shut you up and the speed was so you'd go to class, and beer, oh yeah, beer. Plus, if you were lucky, and won that week, a guy on your floor would stop by with some weed. Not sure how I graduated, actually . . . .

                    1. re: MGZ

                      HA HA HA! Those were the days, my friend!

                2. Baking soda & water OR meat tenderizer & water to treat bee or wasp stings...though I think hydrocortisone cream is easier and less messy if you have it!

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: kattyeyes

                    How this bee- allergic victim stared at the baking soda/water paste my mother would smear on my stings. It would dry out within an hour, and the new swelling would pop off the chunks. Ouch.

                      1. re: kattyeyes

                        Part of growing up. Makes me watch my bees and queues.

                    1. re: calumin

                      Hmm? Meaning American as apple pie?

                      1. re: kattyeyes

                        Meaning "here's a cream pie in your face".

                      2. re: calumin

                        and a statement all it's own...American Pie

                        1. re: BiscuitBoy

                          and fortunately on Tuesday, most of the levies WERE dry.

                          1. re: Veggo

                            ! ! ! No, not whiskey and wine! Levenstein and Stiffler

                              1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                I thought the lyrics were whiskey and RYE? Guess I've been singing it wrong.

                                  1. re: melpy

                                    I was referencing the movie...but in the song, whiskey and rye doesn't make sense to me

                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                        wow. all sortsa undertones...I'm still wondering about Paul being barefoot

                                      2. re: BiscuitBoy

                                        ehh it's just redundant. (as if we expect pop music to be factually accurate)

                            1. Egg whites as a sperm friendly lube.

                              Along the same lines, baking soda to change pH in those regions.

                              17 Replies
                              1. re: rohirette

                                Never thought of that one. "Yo, darlin', where's the hen fruit?"

                                1. re: rohirette

                                  Yikes to both....

                                  Oh and the butter and crisco as lube too? You guys are scaring me....

                                  1. re: kubasd

                                    No kidding on ALL of the above. File under NOT DELICIOUS! :)

                                    1. re: kattyeyes

                                      So, what IS delicious in the southern hemisphere? Raspberry syrup, for one.

                                      1. re: Veggo

                                        So not touching that with a 39-and-a-half-foot pole! But thanks for the laugh.

                                            1. re: kubasd

                                              Talk about this discussion goin' even further south! LOLOL!

                                        1. re: Veggo

                                          You took it to another level. My post was about utility.

                                          I sometimes forget that not everyone on the internet hangs out on TTC forums.

                                          1. re: rohirette

                                            Nor do we (OK, I) know what TTC forums even are! Oh, sorry...just looked that up. It's "trying to conceive." Have fun practicing! ;)

                                            1. re: rohirette

                                              It just kinda wandered there, but it all knits together. Enjoy the tapestry you created!

                                            2. re: Veggo

                                              some hemispheres are pretty rugged and fanky and require some sort of , uh , treatment...Some are well maintained by the land owner and are best plain

                                          2. re: kubasd

                                            "Oh and the butter and crisco as lube too? You guys are scaring me...."

                                            Search for the word "butter" on the page.


                                            1. re: ttoommyy

                                              yeahhhhh and then I'll have sex with a pig....

                                              1. re: kubasd

                                                Exactly! It didn't up the deliciousness factor for me, either, sista! OINK, OINK! I mean, I love pig, but NOT LIKE THAT!

                                                1. re: kattyeyes

                                                  Nobody's mentioned Redi-Whip......

                                                  1. re: Querencia

                                                    My favorite Reddi-Wip scene at 1:15 (no worries, it's rated G):

                                                    Not sure it's an "alternate use" if you're still eating it. ;)

                                        2. I use mint and cayenne pepper as natural pesticides.
                                          Cloves, cinnamon sticks, orange peel for simmering potpourri.
                                          Coffee grounds in my garden.
                                          Occasionally eggs, beer, or mayo as hair conditioner.
                                          Kosher salt on small patches of icy walkways.
                                          Coca cola to remove insect splatters from my windshield
                                          Lemons need a page unto themselves....I use them to remove ring-around-the-collar, to repel insects in woodpiles (lemon peels only here), as a remover for minor stains on carpets and in tea cups, on copper cookware....and dozens more things.

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: pinehurst

                                            I wonder if lemon peels keep other "undesirables" out of wood piles. Do you know?
                                            And remember (from the 70s) Body on Tap? "But don't drink it!"

                                            1. re: kattyeyes

                                              Katty, totally remembered...also some shampoo with wheat germ and honey that looked drinkable via the commercial!

                                              I know lemon peels repel moths, beetles, etc, but for the things of the furry persuasion, I've found that mint and cayenne work best. I actually planted spearmint (which is quick growing, perennial, lovely, useful, and impossible to kill) around the foundation of the house to solve a problem with fieldmice wanting to come in when the weather turned cold--solved it. So perhaps sow some mint where you plan to put the woodpile.

                                              My aunts would also use citronella oil (not a food, I know) to repel everything away from everything....they'd dab it on me to repel mosquitos, spritz it on trash bags to repel skunks. I imagine you could concoct something out of lemon/mint extract in a base of Listerine (with the thymol, eucalyptus, etc in that) and spritz away.

                                              1. re: pinehurst

                                                Friends of mine have issues with field mice in the wood pile, then snakes that go to look for them there (ACKKKKKKK!)...so I wonder if the mint/cayenne would be a good preemptive strike against things that slither. I hate them so! And it's bunk that they're more scared of me than I am of them...that is just not possible.

                                                1. re: kattyeyes

                                                  BLEAH! I am too northerly to have a prob w/snakes, but a cousin uses clove oil, cinnamon oil, and garlic. She also plants marigolds EVERYWHERE...she swears it deters all garden pests that creep/crawl/fly....thanks for the youtube link, too :-)

                                                  1. re: pinehurst

                                                    I knew I liked marigolds for a reason. Thank you! I will share!

                                                2. re: pinehurst

                                                  BTW, I think the wheat germ and honey was Faberge. It was orange, dirt cheap and what we used at my uncle's house. :) "And so on, and so on, and so on!"

                                            2. - coconut oil for skincare
                                              - peanut butter for removing gum
                                              - clove oil as an antiseptic
                                              - a slice of bread as a "sponge" to pick up broken glass shards
                                              - use a raw potato to unscrew a broken light bulb from the socket
                                              - lemons & beer to lighten hair
                                              - the inside of banana peels for polishing silver (have read about this in numerous places but never tried it myself)
                                              - salt to break up grease stains

                                              6 Replies
                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                Yeah, girls I went to HS with used to cut school to go to the beach with lemon in their hair as the prom approached. They were all successfully yellow-blonde by the big day.

                                                1. re: MGZ

                                                  lemon and chamomile tea! I'd make a big pot and pour it over my head in the summer, lol

                                                2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                  I never thought of the bread sponge. This will, unfortunately, be handy to know. I seem to be forever cleaning up broken dishes :(

                                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                    Ummm... Unplug the lamp with the broken light bulb before using a potato to unscrew it. There's enough moisture in a potato to conduct electricity.... zzzzZZZZZZZAP...!!! Not healthy! If it's a light fixture, trip the circuit breaker before proceeding. A bar of soap works too, but it's not food.

                                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                                      that sounds suspiciously like the voice of experience...

                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                        More like common sense, thank goodness. I can't remember how long since I last broke a light bulb, but I do remember I had to use needle nose pliers to get the damn stem out off the socket! Thought I was going to have to rebuild the lamp!

                                                  2. getting back to the OP, bags of frozen vegetables are better than steak, and you can re-freeze them.

                                                    mom used to make 'play clay' out of salt, flour and water. sometimes even food coloring.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                      "mom used to make 'play clay' out of salt, flour and water. sometimes even food coloring."

                                                      Which reminds me of bread-dough Christmas ornaments. Another one to add to the list.

                                                    2. Brewers yeast as a natural anti-flea supplement for dogs.

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: pinehurst

                                                        Ah, we used to put a small amount of vinegar in the dog's water and keep it in the fridge for the same reason. Not sure how effective it was, but I DO remember my cousin being REALLY THIRSTY one day and grabbing THAT water out of the fridge, chugging quite a bit before he realized and spit it out all over the back porch.

                                                        1. re: kattyeyes

                                                          Know what though, it wouldn't have hurt him to drink. Lots of folks swear by a tablespoon of vinegar in a glass of water as a cure all....especially apple cider vinegar. But yeah, taste shock for sure.

                                                        2. re: pinehurst

                                                          Plumber told friends of mine to pour regular yeast down the drain and it would 'eat up' any clogs. Like an all natural Drain-o.

                                                        3. Honey. Heals cuts, burns, and scratches. Soothes as it heals. I once had terrible scratches on my legs and the honey healed them and removed any traces of scarring.

                                                          16 Replies
                                                          1. re: Spice_zing

                                                            I'm guessing you don't live in fire ant or bear territory? But yes, honey is magical mysterious stuff.

                                                            1. re: Veggo

                                                              one of my favorite reads
                                                              HONEY,MUD,MAGGOTS AND OTHER MEDICAL MARVELS
                                                              the science behind folk remedies and old wives' tales

                                                              Robert & Michele Root-Bernstein

                                                              1. re: lcool

                                                                if we are gonna get medical.... still haven't found a replacement for a salt water gargle when you have a sore throat.

                                                                1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                  it also works wonder for anyone with gum troubles - great at reducing inflammation cause by bacteria & viruses.

                                                                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                    All through the allergy and mowing season here (Md) my best help,relief is a salt gargle and or netty pot.All my throat and sinuses need 90% of the time.

                                                                    1. re: lcool

                                                                      It IS a magic lantern, the neti pot...even if one of my friends referred to it as "the nasal douche." ;P

                                                                      1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                        I guess that's better than "the nasal enema"?

                                                                      2. re: lcool

                                                                        +1 on the neti pot. I truly don't know how I ever lived without one.

                                                                        (yes I do...I lived on a constant diet of antibiotics, allergy meds, and decongestants)

                                                                  2. re: Veggo

                                                                    re: Spice_zing, Veggo & Icool

                                                                    Honey's the only known food which will not spoil, due to its near-miraculous natural antibiotic and antiseptic qualities. Its use as a wound treatment dates all the way back to the ancient Egyptians. And recent studies confirm that for minor cuts it's as effective as triple antibiotic ointment. There have been documented cases where it's been successful on extremely serious infections and sepsis (ie:gangrene) which had resisted treatment by even the strongest modern medications. Amazing stuff indeed.

                                                                    Far less effective when used as a bear repellent though. :-)

                                                                  3. re: Spice_zing

                                                                    Pickle juice for an upset stomach.

                                                                    1. re: mudcat

                                                                      erg. That sort of upsets my stomach just to think about it! (love pickles, but drinking the juice? yeccch)

                                                                      1. re: mudcat

                                                                        Pickle juice for leg cramps. My son swears by it.

                                                                        1. re: boyzoma

                                                                          THAT is the potassium -- athletes are told to consume dill pickles to load up on potassium to hopefully avoid muscle cramps. (as well as the sodium to help with hydration - the salt causes your body to store water)

                                                                        2. re: mudcat

                                                                          Pickle juice is a popular hangover remedy in Russia.

                                                                        3. re: Spice_zing

                                                                          Cider vinegar and honey to ease arthritis, an old Vermont folk remedy. Mixed with hot water to make a drink not unlike hot lemonade and drunk several times daily. It worked for my grandmother, who resumed playing violin after more then a decade of being unable to.

                                                                        4. Lavender oil -- cannot STAND it in my food, but it's a kickass treatment for bug bites (it has mild antiseptic properties)...

                                                                          ...and for tension headaches...just a few drops lightly massaged on your temples, and the headache is GONE.

                                                                          (and it smells nice) :)

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                            Similarly for headaches, acupressure, stress relief and general calming: Aveda's blue oil. It's a blend of peppermint and blue camomile and it smells nice, too:

                                                                            1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                              Also not food, but I like Origins Peace of Mind (with basil, peppermint, and eucalyptus oils) for the same purposes: http://www.origins.com/product/3821/1...

                                                                              Surprised not to see mentioned yet cucumber slices or cooled tea bags for relieving tired, puffy eyes.

                                                                          2. Diluted vinegar as a conditioner/hair rinse.
                                                                            Raw honey as a face wash/mask.
                                                                            Yogurt to soothe an itchy scalp.

                                                                            1. I rub olive oil into my hair as a conditioner. It works quite well.

                                                                              1. Emergency Play-Dough: equal parts of flour and salt with enough water to get the consistency you want; add a spoonful of cream of tartar if you have it.

                                                                                1. Lemon peels down the garbage disposal to keep it from smelling funny.

                                                                                  White vinegar and water to get odors out of clothing.

                                                                                  White vinegar or salt in water to set dyes in clothing.

                                                                                  Cider vinegar or beer as hair rinses and clarifiers, to clean off old styling products. Honey as a hair rinse, for very soft hair. Rosemary steeped in hot water for a rinse for dark hair, chamomile for light.

                                                                                  Baking soda for deodorizing tasks in general.

                                                                                  Teabags for sore eyes (got this one out of a wilderness first aid book).

                                                                                  A bag full of dried barley to microwave for a heat pack.

                                                                                  Oatmeal or baking soda in the bath for irritated, itch skin. A bit of olive oil for very dry skin.

                                                                                  Salt or sugar mixed with oil as an exfoliating/moisturizing skin scrub.

                                                                                  Flour and water paste for papier mache.

                                                                                  Oil of cloves for sore gums or toothache.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                                                                    Adding to your olive oil suggestion, I read in the newspaper olive oil mixed with plain lotion is helpful for eczema (a tip from someone's 101-year-old great-grandmother). As is drinking oolong tea!

                                                                                  2. cider vinegar hair rinse-especially hair product build up
                                                                                    any honey for a burn, lip conditioner
                                                                                    brown sugar and honey for rough heels
                                                                                    tea bags for sunburn
                                                                                    baking soda and yogurt for winter skin scrub
                                                                                    club soda to take out stains
                                                                                    baking soda powder removes wine stains from carpets
                                                                                    lemon juice as window cleaner
                                                                                    plain yogurt as moisturizer
                                                                                    milk to calm skin
                                                                                    red wine, tea and beets as food dye (Easter eggs)

                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                                      You reminded me of a lip treatment recipe Savannah Bee Company posted earlier this year. I found a whole page of "beauty recipes" when I went to their page to share. The lip treatment is great. Now gotta try some of the others!

                                                                                      1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                                        Love Savannah Bee! I know I've mentioned this company on CH somewhere in the archives...some of the best honeycomb around!

                                                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                                                          I started following them on FB after buying and enjoying their cheese honey earlier this year. As a lifelong honey hater, I was happy to find I liked honey after all. :)

                                                                                    2. Warm teabag as overnight treatment for a boil or a gum abcess. Might require a second night but usually works the first time.

                                                                                      1. I'm saving this thread, lots of useful home remedies. Thanks for starting the post ttoo.

                                                                                        1. Got this from the Wicked backstage tour--half vodka, half water spray takes the odor out of their costumes. Works great on ski clothes, gloves, lockers. Just don't use your husband's Absolut vodka to keep peace in the house.

                                                                                          1. Round Blue Box salt and half a lemon work great to polish copper pots and pans. I pile some salt on the bottom of a copper pan, then press half a freshly cut lemon into it and scrub my way around the pot. Rinse and dry. It glows! Pinehurst mentioned lemon on copper, but without salt, I've found it dodgy at best. The combination works best for me.

                                                                                            And in case no one has mentioned it, round blue box salt is also my method for cleaning my cast iron ware, not water. Yeah, yeah, to each his own. I do things MY way! '-)

                                                                                            1. I just saw this on Huffington Post:

                                                                                              Use a salad spinner to get water out of a delicate sweater or other dainty things.
                                                                                              Use A Grapefruit To clean your bathtub.
                                                                                              Potato Skins Can Help You remove mineral stains from glasses.
                                                                                              Boiled Water And Lemon Can turn discolored socks white again.
                                                                                              Use Bread Crusts To dust Venetian blinds.
                                                                                              Use A Spatula To clean burnt food out of your oven.
                                                                                              Try Using Peanut Butter To remove gum from the soles of your shoes.
                                                                                              Salt Can Help You clean up an egg spill.

                                                                                              There were a few others (but they didn't pertain to food). You can read the whole article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10...

                                                                                              1. Rice as a dessicant if a cel phone falls into water.

                                                                                                1. To remove rust from knives, plunge knife through an
                                                                                                  onion and allow to soak temporarily in onion juice.

                                                                                                  1. Mine is buttermilk for a hangover cure. Or at the end of the evening to prevent one if you fear it.

                                                                                                    1. Explosives. Backyard bombs.

                                                                                                      Mead (honey) was a common element in the first explosives. Sugar is highly explosive. A small amount of flour easily ignites.

                                                                                                      Stella Mars: "If you can bake a cake, you can make a bomb." (her copyright)

                                                                                                      INSTRUCTIONS, DISCLAIMERS.
                                                                                                      On the serious side, do not do play around with food explosives unless you know what you're doing.
                                                                                                      The explosions from these items (using small quantities) will be small but real.
                                                                                                      Do it outside, if at all.
                                                                                                      Be safe.
                                                                                                      Most of the instructions are found in science class experiment handouts.
                                                                                                      Wear protective goggles and gear. Be sure to protect your eyes.
                                                                                                      DO NOT DO ANYTHING STUPID.

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                        VERY BROWN Roux,New Orleans style....AKA ,kitchen napalm,MAKE IN DEEP POT

                                                                                                      2. Buttermilk and moss whizzed in a blender, painted onto things where you want moss to grow.

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. Wasn't there a mass-market shampoo that used to advertize they used beer as an ingredient? And a face cream that used ground apricot pits?

                                                                                                          Not sure if this counts, but Christmas ornaments: my mom would make pizzelle which we would hang on the tree.

                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: MagicMarkR

                                                                                                            lots of face creams have ground apricot pits -- but I'm not sure they count as food! I vaguely remember a shampoo with beer, but can't remember the name.

                                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                              Granted. Though it is closer to food than the salad spinner someone mentioned above :-)

                                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                Body On Tap was the beery shampoo.

                                                                                                              2. Tomato juice to was skunk off a dog
                                                                                                                Mayonnaise to remove water rings from furniture
                                                                                                                Fruit for a yellow jacket trap

                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: calliope_nh

                                                                                                                  Oh, the fruit as a yellow jacket trap reminds me of a bad move along the same lines. I Worked as a waiter many many years ago at a place that had an outdoor dining space. Yellow jackets would come by and bother diners. Someone came up with the brilliant solution of setting out small ramekins of granadine to draw the yellow jackets away from the diners and to the grenadine. Well, I do not need to tell you what happened (though I will): three yellow jackets turned into dozens, rendering the patio unusable. Astonishingly, it was a practice tried all summer: perhaps the managers thought "this time will be different."

                                                                                                                  1. re: MagicMarkR

                                                                                                                    yes...the grenadine works brilliantly, IF you set it up as a trap and not an all-you-can-eat buffet.

                                                                                                                2. vandalism. food is good for vandalism. it's a seasonal thing in regions of plenty but is not to be ignored.