26 Unexpected Uses for Aluminum Foil

I am an aluminum foil trafficker. Whenever I travel to Italy, my American ex-pat friends bribe me with free housing and gelato in exchange for aluminum foil. Aluminum foil, along with ultra-absorbency tampons and decent Mexican food, are not sold anywhere in Italy. And, just like decent feminine hygiene products and handmade corn tortillas, you don't really realize how integral aluminum foil is to your life until you don't have it.

Beyond the obvious cooking and baking applications, Americans have devised so many hacks for foil, that even Leonardo da Vinci would be impressed. The next time you're feeling down about your lack of frescoes and Roman ruins, just know that these are 26 things Italians cannot do.

1. Boost Wi-Fi

Increase your wireless signal by making parabolic reflectors for your router out of foil, cardstock, and glue with this free pattern.

2. Sharpen Scissors

Nothing matches the edge you'll get from a professional knife sharpener, but in a pinch, sharpen dull scissors by folding a sheet of foil several times over, then cutting the foil into thin strips with the shears.

3. Lengthen the Life of Bananas

I am really picky about bananas. For me, the perfect ripeness is a yellow banana with green tips and no black spots. To give myself the longest perfect banana-eating window of time, I wrap the banana stems in foil to slow down the ripening process.

4. Curl Hair

At last! Pre-Raphaelite locks can be yours with the use of foil and a flat iron.

5. Bling Nails

Apply foil directly to your nails or create your own Hello Kitty nail decals with foil.

6. Static Cling Relief

Use a ball of aluminum foil instead of dryer sheets.

7. Polish Silver

Line a glass cakepan or bowl with aluminum foil, pour in boiling water, add a few tablespoons of baking soda, and then add the tarnished silver for speedy cleaning. Use tongs to remove the silver from the hot bath and rub with a cloth to remove stubborn tarnish spots.

8. Scrub Pots and Pans

Beware, aluminum foil is such an effective scrubby, it will remove the non-stick coating on your pans along with the burnt-on food, so use this trick on non-coated cookware only. Aluminum foil will remove stubborn stains on stainless steel pans without harsh chemicals.

9. Clean the Grill

Scrub a still warm grill rack with a wad of foil to remove burnt-on chunks. (Use tongs to hold the foil to avoid burning your fingers!)

10. Detail a Classic Car

Use aluminum foil to remove rust from chrome by scrubbing it with a wad of crumpled foil. Pro tip: dip the foil in Coca-Cola for extra rust removing mojo.

11. Scrub Your Skates

Speaking of rust, did you forget to dry off your ice skates? Remove any rust flecks from the blades by rubbing them with foil.

12. Preserve Steel Wool

If you are still using metal scrubbies, you can prolong their lives of by setting them on foil to prevent rust.

13. Make a Funnel

Roll foil into a cone shape, insert it into the bottle, and start pouring.

14. Get Crafty

Make 1970s-inspired foil embossed art for your modernist pad. Create gilded Easter decorations. Dress up a Christmas tree with these glittery foil icicles.

I am crazy enough to have a silver leafed dining room ceiling. You can get a similar look for less using aluminum foil.

Try some paper crafts while you're at it, like a silver leaf leaf relief. Even art class wash-outs can get super chic, frame-worthy art using this simple hack. Or maybe try making a textured cover for your journal or sketchbook.

15. Sculpt Epic Fan Art

In 2014, in honor of May the 4th (Star Wars Day) and to celebrate the reboot of the Star Wars franchise, artists at Lucasfilm, Industrial Light & Magic, Marvel, Pixar, and Disney were given miniature vinyl stormtrooper helmets to re-imagine.

My sister, Becky Wong, a Disney artist, used aluminum foil and a coffee can that she pulled from the recycling bin to build the armature for her sculpture, Jabba the Hot Mess. Her piece was one of 60 works personally selected by George Lucas as part of the "Star Wars Visions" art exhibition. Jabba the Hot Mess is currently on display at the Mori Arts Center in Tokyo, Japan.

16. Make Char Cloth

For those of you who missed this lesson during summer camp, char cloth is the tinder component of a tinderbox. Char cloth makes lighting a fire with a flint and steel much easier. I made my char cloth as a kid by charring cotton rags inside a metal bandage tin in the coals of a campfire, but you can make large amounts of it at home, over a gas flame, using tin foil instead. I give the creator of this instructional char cloth video extra thrifty points for recommending the use of ratty cotton underwear as the basis for his homemade char cloth.

17. Radiate Heat From the Radiator

Wrap a piece of plywood with foil and place it between the radiator and the wall to reflect more heat into the room.

18. Cut Ironing Time in Half

Use heat reflection to speed up laundry day. Remove the cloth cover of your ironing board, roll out foil the full length of your ironing board, and replace the cover over the foil.

19. Ghost-Iron Delicate Fabrics

When I need to steam wrinkles out of my silk blouse, I put a piece of foil on my ironing board and then lay the blouse flat on top of the foil. With the steam setting on, I pass the iron through the air about three inches above the blouse until the wrinkles fall out of the fabric.

20. Fix a Loose Battery Connection

The springs inside the battery compartment of flashlights and other small electronics sometime lose their spring. Fold up a small piece of foil and insert it between the battery and the spring to complete the circuit.

21. Hack AAA Batteries

If you ever find yourself in a blackout without the necessary AA batteries, you can try using AAA batteries instead. Put a small ball of foil between the AAA battery and the battery's negative terminal.

22. Easy Ash Removal

This is a great way to get one last use out of already used foil before you dispose of it. Line your fireplace with a double layer of foil before lighting a fire. Once the fire burns out and the ashes are cool, wrap everything up in the foil liner, and dispose. This also works for charcoal grills and wood ovens.

23. Re-Glue Self-Stick Vinyl Flooring

Place a piece of foil over the loose tile. Press a hot iron over the foil until the adhesive back of the tile melts and sticks to the subfloor.

24. Reseal Plastic Garment Bags

Has your sweater bag blown a seam? Fold foil over the split seam and use a hot iron to melt the seam back together.

25. Protect Door Hardware From Paint

If you can't remove your front door to repaint it, wrap the hinges, locks, and knobs with foil before painting the door in place.

26. Foster Conspiracy Theories

Make a tin foil hat. Of Course.

Are you a proud American? What is your favorite aluminum foil hack?

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Beyond the obvious cooking and baking applications, there are so many life hacks for aluminum foil. From boosting your wifi, lengthening the life of bananas, cleaning silver, art projects and more. Check out our tips and ideas on how you can use this versatile household necessity! | #aluminumfoil #lifehacks #housekeepinghacks

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Guest's picture

Hi! Aluminum foil IS sold in Italy. I have been buying it for years in local supermarkets, open air markets and other small, local stores, unless American aluminum foil is different! The one sold here in the UK (where I reside at the moment) is the same as the one sold in Italy. :)