12 Creative Ways to Reuse Aluminum Foil
Aluminum foil is potentially one of the most useful and versatile mass produced substances. The early model of this product was originally called “tin foil” because it was made using tin. Tin transferred unwanted odor to food products, so a new version was developed using aluminum.
These days, most stores carry several brands of aluminum foil products of varying sizes and thicknesses; all are durable and can withstand extreme cold and heat. Due to its level of durability, aluminum foil can be used many times before it needs to be discarded. Unfortunately, the average American consumer is unaware that aluminum foil is reusable and also of how to recycle it when its lifespan is up.
In the United States, over ¾ of aluminum foil products are used by the food industry for packaging things like candy and snacks; most of this packaging ends up in the landfills. Americans throw away approximately 3 pounds of aluminum foil per year. Researchers believe that it takes roughly 400 years for this product to decompose naturally. Even worse, some landfills put aluminum through an incinerator, which releases toxic gases and metals into the air.
Even recycling centers will not always accept aluminum foil, regardless of whether they accept aluminum cans. While aluminum foil is no less recyclable than cans, it is often less clean. Aluminum foil that is heavily contaminated with food waste can be problematic for recycling centers, so many of them simply will not accept it.
When you are ready to say goodbye to sheets of aluminum foil, contact your municipal recycling program to find out where you can locally recycle used aluminum foil. You can also check out the Earth911.org website and enter your zip code to find local recycling centers. Of course, the best way to recycle aluminum foil is to reuse it yourself as many times as possible.
Not only is aluminum foil completely, 100% recyclable, it can be repurposed indefinitely. After tearing off a sheet to fold over your lasagna or pie cruse to keep it from burning in the oven, scrub the sheet of foil with some soap and hot water, air dry it, and use it again in any number of ways.
12 of the best ways to reuse aluminum foil
1. Deter garden pests
Collars of aluminum foil around the base of young plants or foil hung in strips around your garden help keep away insects, birds, and other animals. The sound and shine of the sheets act as a deterrent. Another, similar use, is stuffing aluminum foil into cracks in structures where rodents and insects tend to enter. The sharp edges of the foil keep infiltrators away.
2. Soften brown sugar
We all know how aggravating it is when air or moisture gets to your brown sugar and it hardens into an unusable lump. You can soften it by wrapping the brown sugar in aluminum foil and heating it for 5-10 minutes at 300 degrees.
3. Clean silverware
No elbow grease required, simply line a bowl with aluminum foil, then add hot water, a tablespoon of baking soda or powdered laundry detergent, and silverware. You can use this method to clean gold or silver jewelry or other trinkets as well. Make sure that the laundry detergent does not have bleach in it. Submerge the items for about a minute, then remove them to air dry. Their shine should be fully restored.
4. Remove static cling
Roll aluminum foil into a ball about two inches in diameter and throw it into the dryer along with your wet clothing. It will help to reduce static cling.
5. Iron out wrinkles
In addition to removing static cling, you can remove wrinkles from your clothing using aluminum foil. If you smooth a sheet of foil under your ironing board cover before ironing, the foil will reflect the iron’s heat and remove wrinkles more efficiently. Another way to use aluminum foil while ironing is to place it under the hole while patching something to keep the patch from sticking to the ironing board.
6. Complete a battery connection
When your flashlight or remote controller stops working, it’s usually a loose connection between the springs holding the batteries and the batteries themselves. By folding a small piece of aluminum foil and wedging it into the gap, you can complete the circuit, making your electronics work again.
7. Use as a scrubber
Aluminum foil is durable enough to clean those gritty food messes on your pots and pans, and even your stove tops. Just roll it into a fist-sized ball and scrub. Be careful not to use it on non-stick surfaces, though, because it could scratch them.
8. Re-glue vinyl tiles
Sometimes self-stick vinyl tiles become loose as the glue reacts to temperature fluctuations and moisture. If you have a tile that is loose or sticking up, run a hot iron over it with a sheet of aluminum foil in between. Without the foil, the iron would burn the tile. Pass the iron over the tile several times until it melts the glue. Then weigh the tile down with books or some other heavy object until the glue dries.
9. Improve efficiency of cast iron radiators
You can use aluminum foil to improve the heating efficiency of your radiators by creating a heat reflector behind them. Take heavy duty foil to a nonflammable post or board of some kind and lean it behind the radiator. Make sure it’s facing shiny side out. The heat from the radiator that is usually lost behind it will now be reflected off of the foil, into the room.
10. Wrap the trunks of young trees
Tender young trees are vulnerable to rodents and other animals during the winter. Wrapping their trunks with aluminum foil in late autumn will keep critters from nibbling the bark. Remove the foil in the spring.
11. Catch ashes or drippings in the grill or fireplace
Fold a sheet of aluminum foil in half to make a sturdy, double layer and insert it under the grill in your fireplace grate or underneath the charcoals in your grill. After using the grill or fireplace, simply wait for everything to cool, then gather the ashes in the aluminum foil for easy cleaning. You can also use the foil to catch meat drippings when you barbecue or spills from your overfull casserole dish in the oven.
12. Old-school TV or radio reception
If you have a device that uses an antenna, try wrapping little balls of aluminum foil around the ends of the antenna to improve the reception. There’s a reason this is considered a classic technique.