Alternative Uses for Uncooked Rice

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Well, I never got my spring cleaning done so I’ve been busy with my “fall cleaning.” Part of my deep-cleaning of the kitchen entailed pulling every single item out of all the cabinets and drawers, wiping them out, rearranging items, and checking expiration dates. On the very top of one of my cabinet shelves, which I have to stand on a ladder to reach, I found a box of rice that had expired in 2011. It still looked ok but since it was expired by a couple of years I decided to toss it. Just as I was about to put it in the trash, I asked myself if there was something else I could do with it so I wouldn’t feel so guilty about throwing an entire box of unopened food away.

Turns out, there’s quite a few things you can do with uncooked rice, including practical and decorative ideas.

    Blender blades can become dull over time, which can make them work less effectively. No need to buy a new blender, just pour about 1/2 cup of rice in the blender, put the top on and run for a minute or two. Your blades will instantly be sharper.

    Humidity can cause the salt in your shaker to clump together. You can prevent this from happening by adding a bit of rice kernels to the bottom of your shaker. The rice will soak up moisture from the air and keep your salt crystals dry. This same method will work for keeping tools from rusting too. Simply add some rice to your tool box and it will absorb moisture and keep those tools from accumulating rust. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who has dropped my phone in water; whether it be the sink, lake, water bowls or toilet. Fill a bowl up with rice and drop your wet phone in it…after a couple of days, chances are the rice will have absorbed the water and your phone will work again. I’ve personally done this 3 times to the same phone and each time, my phone worked just fine.

    I tried this and it works! You can make an easy heating pad for sore muscles with an old tube sock and rice. Simply fill up an old tube sock with rice and tie the end shut. Microwave it for about 2 minutes, (I started off with 30 second intervals the first time and at about 2 minutes it was perfect but microwaves vary.) Be very careful when pulling it out because it will be hot. Rice has a dense mass so it will retain the heat for up to 45 minutes. And once you’ve soothed those aching muscles, you can reuse it without having to replace the rice. My sock (I didn’t have any tube socks in the house so I just use a regular one), was the perfect size for the back of my neck and I didn’t have to mess with electrical cords. LOVED THIS! You can also toss that same sock in the freezer to make a cold pack.

    You can also make fun cat toys with rice. Use the other sock from your heating pad creation, fill it up with rice and add a bit of catnip to it before tying it up. Our cats went crazy for them!

    We don’t have a dog so I couldn’t try this tip out but I did use it on our cats. I admit, while it did get the cats off the counter, they weren’t “scared” enough to keep from jumping back up. Maybe if I were more consistent, it would. Fill a clean, dry can one-third of the way with rice. Cover the opening with foil and secure with a rubber band. Next time the dog is barking or the cats are on the counter, shake the can. The loud noise will startle them and (maybe) they will soon associate the sound with the behavior and stop. You can of course use loose change too.

    In the past, I’ve used sand or pebbles to weigh down my holiday luminaries (paper bags with a candle in it) lining the driveway but rice would work too. Just add enough to weigh down the bag so it doesn’t blow away. I’m always worried about fire so now I use the battery operated candles for outside decorating.

    Just like colored sand, you can use colored rice to decorate any clear glass containers. You can use plain white or brown rice in a decorative glass and then pop a tea light on top. You can also make colored rice by adding rice to a plastic bag, then add a few drops of rubbing alcohol and food coloring, close the bag up and give it a couple of good shakes. Let it dry, which took about 5 minutes for me.

    The kids can make fun pictures with glue and colored rice too. Or make a trivet…cut cardboard into whatever shape and size you want. Apply a layer of superglue to the cardboard and place the rice on top, arranging the kernels together tightly so they cover the space. The rice creates a heat-proof barrier between your dishes and the table.

    Want to make homemade pie crust but you don’t have pie weights? For pre-baking crust, just top the crust with parchment paper and add a layer of rice. The weight of the rice helps keep air pockets from forming so it won’t bubble up. Make sure you remove the paper and rice after baking.

    The other day I saw a creative picture of a wide-mouth jar filled with bamboo skewers that someone used for a knife block. When I was cleaning out my drawers (kitchen ones), I actually cut myself on a couple of stray knives that didn’t fit in my wood kitchen block. I think rice would work just as well as the skewers. It will keep them from rubbing up against other items, which can dull the blades and no more cuts when you reach in the drawer. I just used a drinking glass for my experiment-that’s not how I’ll display them in my kitchen. Don’t spend a ton of money on pretty vases or jars…head to your nearest thrift store or dollar store and get them cheap.

    I actually saw a friend do this and asked what the heck she was doing. You can heat oil for deep-frying even if you don’t have a thermometer. To test the oil, drop in a grain of rice. If it pops to the surface and starts cooking, it’s ready for frying.

    Coffee and spices can taste a little off when grinding them up in a dirty grinder. That’s because there’s a buildup of residue. To clean the grinder, fill it up halfway with rice and grind until fine. Not only does it lift the residue, it absorbs the odors.

    Rice makes a great facial mask and it won’t cost a fortune. Grind 2 tablespoons of rice for 5 seconds in a blender. Add enough water to make a paste and apply to your face. Wait for about 30 minutes, until it begins to dry and crack, and then rinse with warm water. Not only does it gently clean, it provides nourishing vitamins, clarifies, and tightens the skin.

    I drink a lot of coffee and have a bad habit of not rinsing the pot out. Then I get those stubborn coffee stains on the bottom, which can be hard to clean out. I’ve broken more than one glass pot when I have my whole hand in it, scrubbing. This trick works great! Pour 2 tablespoons of rice into the pot and add a handful of ice cubes. Swirl the pot around until clean. Then simply rinse it out with water. For narrow vases that get gunky buildup on the bottom, add a bit of rice, water, and liquid soap. Shake and swirl until clean. (It’s the abrasiveness of the rice that helps lift stubborn stains.

Remember…all of these ideas use uncooked rice, not leftovers!

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