9 Amazing Hacks for Aluminum Foil

By: Alia Hoyt  | 
Aluminum foil is one of the most useful products out there. Tony Webster/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

You probably have a box or two of aluminum foil buried somewhere in the pantry, but are you using it to its full potential? Although the product is a known superstar at wrapping up food items or lining a baking sheet, most people simply have no idea that aluminum foil can actually do so much more.

First produced in France in 1903, it quickly became obvious that aluminum foil exceled at wrapping up foodstuffs, like candy bars and Life Savers candies. Fast-forward to World War II, when the military embraced the product for all kinds of uses. For example, foil strips were dropped from bombers, which then confused enemy radar tracking systems. Take that, Hitler!


Of course, there are a lot of uses for aluminum foil that fall in between the obvious (food packaging) and the ultra-innovative (military applications). Those of you who don't have bombers parked in the garage, give some of these nine cool uses for aluminum foil a try! You'll definitely be surprised. Possibly inspired.

1. Scrub Pans

If a pan is all covered in crusty, baked-on food, but you don't have a pot scrubber handy, don't despair! All you need to do is get enough foil to crumple into a fist-sized ball, then scrub with soap and water, as per usual. Do not do this on any type of copper cookware, or others coated in nonstick substance. It's best used on aluminum, steel or glass pots and pans. Who knew aluminum foil doubles as a washcloth on steroids?


2. Make Your Own Panini Press

One creative foil hack from the experts at Reynolds Wrap produces a delightful panini to rival most delis. First, make the sandwich, then wrap it up in aluminum foil. Put it on one cookie sheet, then place another cookie sheet on top of the sandwich. Wrap a brick in foil next (provided you have one lying around; if not, use a heavy, oven-safe pan). Place the brick or heavy pan on the top of the cookie sheet in the oven. Then, bake the sandwich until it reaches the desired level of doneness.


3. Polish Silverware

No need to purchase smelly silver polish ever again! Easily polish silverware by lining a plastic bin with aluminum foil. Be sure that it is placed shiny side up. Then, put the silverware in the bin. Add one-quarter cup (60 milliliters) of washing soda (this is not the same thing as baking soda, FYI), as well as 1 gallon (3.79 liters) of boiling water to the bin. Stir the mixture, then allow the silverware to soak for at least 10 to 15 minutes. The tarnish should "fall" right off of the silverware and onto the aluminum foil!

Or, try this method: Line a bin or roasting pan with foil, then fill it up with cold water. Add one-quarter cup (60 milliliters) baking soda and 2 teaspoons of kosher salt to the water and stir. Carefully place your silverware in the solution, not allowing it to touch or hit the sides of the pan. You should see bubbles form. Allow to soak for a few minutes. Be sure to rinse with water, then dry it off.


4. Keep Birds at Bay

Whether you're not a fan of birds, or just don't want them noshing on your fruit tree, it's easy enough to scare them away humanely. All you have to do is hang some strips of aluminum foil from the tree branches and those feathery friends should keep their distance.

Aluminum foil is produced in great sheets at a factory in Huaibei, China.
Li Xin/VCG/Getty Images


5. Protect the Garden

If you take delight in your home garden and actually want to eat the spoils yourself, preempt annoying little buggers by adding strips of aluminum foil into your mulch. This should keep insects at bay nicely while also reflecting valuable light back onto your plants!


6. Make Creative Cake Shapes

No need to buy an expensive novelty cake pan that you'll only use once. Instead, flex those creative muscles and use aluminum foil! All you have to do is make a double layer of aluminum foil, then manipulate it into the shape you desire, like a heart, cross or anything else. Place it inside a cake pan, then fill the foil up with batter and bake!


7. Make a DIY Funnel

There never seems to be a funnel on hand when you really need one. Fill the void by fashioning a cone-shaped funnel out of aluminum foil. Easy-peasy!


8. Sharpen up Scissors

If those old scissors are getting too dull to use, there's an easy foil-based fix. Tear a sheet of aluminum foil off. Fold it into four quarters. This should result in four foil layers. Then, all you have to do is cut the foil repeatedly. The act of doing this will result in shiny, sharp scissor blades!


9. Speed Up the Ironing Process

Sometimes ironing is just so tedious. Reduce the amount of ironing time by putting a sheet of aluminum foil underneath the cover of your ironing board. This will effectively reflect heat and make the wrinkles fall out that much faster.

Clearly, aluminum foil wants to make your life easier. So, let it! You won't regret it.