Multiple Uses for Aluminum Foil

Pop quiz: What is the difference between the shiny side of aluminum foil and the dull side?

Did you answer that foil can keep heat out when wrapped with the shiny finish facing out, and keep heat in with the shiny finish facing inward? Sorry, but both sides function identically.

Aluminum foil has a shiny side and a matte side due to how it is rolled during production and packaging. It is difficult to produce rollers with a gap fine enough to cope with the small gauge of foil.

So, for the final production pass, two sheets are rolled at the same time, doubling the thickness of the gauge at entry to the rollers. When the sheets are later separated, the inside surface is dull and the outside surface is shiny.

The one difference between the two sides is in light reflection. The reflectivity of bright aluminum foil is 88 percent versus 80 percent for the dull side.

But the stuff is 100 percent useful in so many ways around the house and in preparedness. I’ve listed some unique uses:

  • Fold foil in quarters, then cut with a scissors to sharpen the scissors blades.
  • Double wrap meat, vegetables and seasonings in a foil pouch, cook on the grill for 20 to 30 minutes for a simple and delicious BBQ dinner. Or place directly on campfire coals.
  • Heat cotton swatches within a foil envelope to create a char cloth. Foil is a great work surface for starting a fire with petroleum jelly and cotton.
  • Keep matches and tinder dry by wrapping them tightly in foil.
  • Don’t have a pot to boil water? Line a hole in the ground with foil and fill with water. Use tongs to pull rocks from a campfire and transfer them into the water. The water will soon boil.
  • A layer of foil beneath a sleeping bag prevents moisture from seeping in while you are sleeping.
  • In the woods, strips of foil hung at eye level make great trail markers, especially at night when they catch flashlight beams.
  • Use the reflectiveness as a mirror, to signal for help
  • Fold a small piece of foil several times into a small square and insert it into the space between a battery and the loose spring to hold the battery in place and complete the circuit.
  • Wrap a piece of plywood in foil. Place it behind your radiator to reflect heat into the middle of the room.
  • Crumple foil into a ball to rub rust spots off surfaces such as shower curtain rods and car bumpers. Also works for cleaning pots and pans.
  • After grilling, use a ball of foil to scrub the burned food bits off the grill.
  • Clean silverware in a shallow pan lined with foil. Add two or three tablespoons of baking soda and boiling water, then drop in tarnished silverware.
  • Strips of foil hung from string to twist and flash in the wind and sun can scare off birds and protect garden crops.
  • Secure a loose peel-and-stick vinyl tile with a sheet of foil and a clothes iron. Cover the tile with foil to protect the finish, then iron it to soften and reactivate the adhesive.
  • A sheet of foil lining the bottom can keep baking tins looking new and, in a pinch, substitute for a cookie sheet.
  • Wrap doorknobs in foil to catch splatters when painting.
  • Create a custom-shaped cake pan (cartoon character, name, heart, etc.) by reshaping the inside of a regular cake pan with foil.
  • Wrap the heating element of an oven or toaster oven to protect it during a thorough cleaning.
  • Cut ironing time in half by placing a sheet of foil under the ironing board cover. The reflected heat from the foil lets you iron both sides of a garment at once.

Isn’t it great how such a simple thing can be useful for a variety of purposes. What can you say about these aluminum foil uses? What ones have worked for you?


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