10 Surprising and Useful Things to Do With Ketchup

by Paul Michael on 8 April 2014 1 comment

Ketchup. Whatever your favorite brand is, you can't have fries without it. In fact, in my household, it's demanded by my children with almost every meal. They don't usually get it, but that doesn't stop the chants of "We want ketchup, we want ketchup!" (See also: Grocery Items You Should Make at Home)

Ketchup recipes can be found as far back as 300 BC, although the modern day version can be traced back to a recipe published in the early 19th century. The most popular brand is, of course, Heinz. Over 650 million bottles of Heinz Ketchup are sold every year, and over 11 billion single-serve packets are distributed. That's two packets for every man, woman, and child on earth!

But whether you enjoy Heinz, Hunts, Del Monte, or maybe even the store's own brand, ketchup is not just for eating. Here are 10 uses for ketchup that do not involve fries. (See also: Unexpected Uses for Mayonnaise)

1. Shine Your Copper

If you have copper-bottomed cooking pans in your kitchen (lucky you), or you have other copper accessories and memorabilia around your home, you don't need to buy expensive copper polishes from the hardware store. Usually, you don't get much use out of them anyway, as a tiny pea-sized amount is good for a few months. Instead, reach for the ketchup in your pantry (or grab a few extra ketchup packets when you're at the local fast-food place). Apply the ketchup in smooth, circular motions using an old rag. Let it sit for a few minutes, and then wipe off with a wet rag and buff to a shine. This also works well on silverware and brass. (See also: The Best Cookware for Your Needs)

2. Restore Your Blonde Locks

I cannot vouch for this one personally; I have a head like a hard boiled egg. However, a little digging has revealed that several hair experts vouch for ketchup as green-hair neutralizer.

As it turns out, blonde hair can turn green due to oxidized metals found in the water. Ketchup can neutralize this color shift, which is handy when you're on vacation and don't have access to a fully-stocked beauty store. Simply wet your hair and apply regular conditioner. Then, squeeze small amounts of ketchup into your hair, which should result in a "thousand island dressing" color. After 10 minutes, rinse out the pink concoction and your hair should look a lot better. (See also: Luxury Hair Treatments From Your Kitchen)

3. Clean Tarnished Auto Parts

The vinegars and acids in ketchup make it ideal for cleaning auto parts if you don't have any regular cleaner at hand. If they're tarnished, rub some ketchup into the affected parts with a rag and let them sit for a while. Then rinse and repeat. After the second rub, they should look a whole lot better. Just make sure you wash them down carefully, or you could be smelling ketchup in your air conditioning system for a few weeks.

4. Fight Skunk Odor

You may live in an area that has the occasional skunk passing through. If you've ever been unfortunate enough to encounter one, you'll also know that the smell is beyond horrific.

Usually, dogs get sprayed when the poor skunks fear for their lives and spray as a self-defense mechanism. After this happens, you have a few options. By far the most effective is to shave your dog. The hair will grow back, and that smell is trapped in the fur. If you don't want a bald pooch, try copious amounts of ketchup. Apply it liberally to the fur, and let is soak for at least 20 minutes. Then, wash it out with plenty of soap. You may need to repeat this a few times. And whatever you do, don't do it in the master bathroom!

5. Cancer Prevention

Really? Well, yes and no. Yes, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research, ketchup is a good source of lycopene, which is an anti-oxidant that may lower the risk of cancer. In fact, one tablespoon of ketchup contains around 2.5 mg of this valuable phytochemical. That's the good news. The not-so-good news it that you'll need to eat about seven tablespoons of ketchup to get the same benefit as a half-cup of tomato juice, which is much better for you. However, if you're the kind of person who likes ketchup on their ketchup, you may at least be getting some small benefit from it…although it's not going to be good for your salt and sugar intake.

6. Mini Cold Packs

When I was a young kid, the cold packs in our freezer were bags of frozen peas and corn. And those are still used today, in emergencies. But of course, you can now pick up reusable hot and cold packs in the pharmacy, and they work really well. But for little boo-boos on tiny hands or feet, they're all a bit bulky. The solution — put a handful of ketchup packets in the freezer. When your little one gets an "owie," give them a couple of ketchup packets. Not only is it great for their size, but they love using ketchup as a pain reliever.

7. Target Practice

This one is both ingenious and bizarre. The whacky brains over at Cockeyed figured out that if you fire a BB gun at a ketchup packet, it explodes like something out of a Hollywood action film. In effect, they're cheap special effects. If you want to take it one step further, you can do what they did. Make a whole bear out of ketchup packets and fire into it like a crazed hunter. This one obviously demands a few safety precautions!

8. Shaving

You're out in the RV or tent on your camping expedition, and you decide to have a shave. Then you realize, no shaving cream. You could simply use hot water, but it will make for a painful shave. Instead, apply ketchup to your face. Yes, it won't smell great, but it will lubricate the razor and make shaving a whole lot easier. When you're done, wash with plenty of water, and you're all set. (See also: Save Money With a Classic Wet Shave)

9. Halloween Blood

When it's time to freak out the neighbors, ketchup on its own won't fool anyone. But, add some corn syrup and a touch of red food coloring, and you'll have some pretty convincing blood to pour over your decorations. What's more, as it's completely edible, you can liberally apply it your face and body with no worries about anything toxic or dangerous. When it comes to clean up, you will have a majorly sticky mess, but the fun scares are well worth the extra scrubbing.

10. Facial Scrub

There are many facial scrubs and cleansers on the market. Quite a lot of them use apricot and peach pits, ground down to make an exfoliator. But, there's a cheaper way to get the same benefits. Simply add the contents of three fake sugar packets to about a tablespoon of ketchup and stir gently. Then, apply it to your face, rubbing as you would any other exfoliator, for around a minute. Wash away and you'll feel the smooth, silky difference. People may think you're silly for doing it, but tell them how much money you're saving and how good the results are. They'll soon give it a try.

Do you have a ketchup use that doesn't involve food? Let us know.

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NJGill

Get rid of burned-on food on the bottom of a stainless steel pan - spread a layer of ketchup, then cover with a paper towel. Keep the paper towel moist and let the ketchup sit overnight. Any tomato-based product will work - salsa, cream of tomato soup, etc. - but ketchup is convenient and free, if you bring it home from the burger joint.