Last Updated on October 30, 2022 by Corinne Schmitt
I’m on a perpetual quest to make life as a busy mom easier and more enjoyable. In addition to time-saving tricks and family fun, my favorite ideas to share with you are clever uses for everyday items like paper towels and plastic bags. On a recent camping trip, I realized that we used aluminum foil for many different things so I decided to put together a list of aluminum foil uses and life hacks that you might not know.
Since I was on a camping trip when I realized how handy aluminum foil is, I’m going to start with some of the ways we use it there.
When we go camping, we like to spend as much time possible being active outdoors. I don’t want to spend the whole time cleaning up after meals. As a result, we end up doing most of our campfire cooking in aluminum foil. Not only are these aluminum foil packets easy to clean up, they allow for each family member to customize his or her meal so that you don’t have to deal with the complaints of your picky eaters on your camping vacation. Some of our favorite campfire meals using aluminum foil as the cooking vessel are:
- Hobo Dinners – Combine ground beef or turkey, mixed vegetables, diced tomatoes, mushrooms, and hot pepper rings (or any combination of these ingredients) in an aluminum foil packet.
- Chicken Packets – Wrap a boneless chicken breast with vegetables in aluminum foil.
- Grilled Cheese – Wrap the sandwich in aluminum foil.
Aluminum foil can not only replace your pots and pans, in a pinch you can even fashion your own eating or cooking utensils with it. Since aluminum foil is both sturdy and pliable, it can easily be shaped into a spatula or spoon if you forget to bring these with you.
Clean Cast Iron
Even though we make a lot of our meals in aluminum foil packets, we do use our cast iron pans for some of our meals, especially breakfast. Unless you use a generous amount of oil, cooking eggs in a cast iron skillet can be a nightmare to clean. Instead of making oily eggs, just use a ball of crumpled aluminum foil to scrub off the remnants of egg left in the skillet.
Keep Things Dry
Aluminum foil is a great way to keep things dry. We wrap our sandwiches in foil to keep them from getting soggy in the cooler full of ice. And since most of our camping trips involve rain no matter what the weather report says before we go, we use aluminum foil to help keep US dry. A layer of foil under your sleeping bag will shield you from the wet ground.
If you like to go fishing on your camping trips, you can use aluminum foil as a fishing lure. Just wrap a small piece around the hook, leaving some of the edges loose so they will wiggle in the water. Light will bounce off the foil and attract fish.
I love a clean home, but I hate cleaning. That’s why I’m always looking for tricks to make cleaning faster and easier. Aluminum foil does both.
Easy Clean Up
You might already line the bottom of your oven with foil to make it easier to clean up spills easier. Have you tried this same trick with your fireplace or grill? HUGE time saver! Speaking of the grill, remember the trick I shared for cleaning my cast iron? It works on the grill too. Use a crumpled ball of foil to scrub off all those charred bits of food sticking to the grate. The aluminum foil scrubber trick also works great on glass baking dishes in the kitchen. Trust me, it will save you lots of elbow crease so put down the scouring pad and ball up some aluminum foil instead.
Instead of spending money on jewelry cleaner, you can make your own. Just line a small bowl with aluminum foil and fill it with HOT water. Then add a tablespoon of bleach-free powdered laundry detergent (not liquid). Submerge your jewelry in the solution and let it soak for one minute. Rinse well and lay out on a paper towel or cotton cloth to air-dry.
Polish your silver
A similar trick can be used to polish your silverware. Instead of a bowl, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Fill it with COLD water and add two teaspoons of salt or baking soda. Set your tarnished silverware on the baking sheet and let it sit for two to three minutes. Rinse well and dry with a clean cloth.
To save yourself time in the future, inhibit tarnishing by storing your silverware on a sheet of aluminum foil.
Clean your iron
If you have starch build-up on your iron, you can use aluminum foil to easily clean it off. Just turn on your iron and let it heat up, then run it over a piece of aluminum foil.
Gardening takes a lot of time and hard work. Thankfully, aluminum foil can help you in the garden too!
Aluminum foil can be used to make your own seed incubator. To make one, line a shoebox with aluminum foil, shiny side up, allowing two to three inches of foil to hang out over the sides. Poke several holes in the bottom (piercing both the box and the foil) for drainage. Then fill the box just over halfway with potting soil and plant your seeds. The foil inside the box will absorb heat to keep the seeds warm as they germinate, while the foil outside the box will reflect light onto the young sprouts.
If you add strips of aluminum foil to your mulch, it will help keep slugs and other insects away.
Scare away birds
Hang strips of aluminum foil in trees that you want to keep birds away from (e.g. fruit trees).
Now for my favorite aluminum foil uses – life hacks! If you thought the previous uses I’ve mentioned were handy, you’ll love how much easier aluminum foil makes life with these tips:
Save Used Steel Wool
For a while I stopped buying steel wool pads because I was so frustrated by them. They worked great, but they were expensive and even though they were sturdy I could only use each one once since they turned to a rusty blog overnight. Then a very smart friend told me to wrap my used steel wool pad in foil and store it in the freezer. Um, I skipped the freezer, because who wants to stumble upon THAT months down the road? I’m sure the freezer works even better, but the foil does extend the life of the pad so I can get a few more uses out of it, making it worth the expense once again.
I hate cutting with dull scissors. My life was changed when I realized how easy it is to sharpen scissors with a piece of aluminum foil. Just fold a piece of foil several times to make multiple layers, then cut through them several times with your dull scissors. Abracadabra – your scissors are sharpened!
Rust makes items look old and uncared for and it weakens the object where it appears. Use a ball of aluminum foil to wipe away rust from your vehicle’s chrome hubcaps and bumper.
Fix a Loose Battery
Over time the springs in battery compartments lose their tension so your remote control or flashlight might not function properly. You can easily bridge the gap with a small piece of aluminum foil. Just fold a 1-square-inch piece of foil several times and insert it between the battery and the spring.
Iron Clothes Faster
Aluminum foil reflects heat, so you can use it to cut your ironing time in half. Just add a layer of aluminum foil beneath your ironing board cover so that you can iron both sides at once. The foil will remove wrinkles from beneath while you iron the top.
Not many of us use TV antennas anymore, but most of us have WiFi. Just like our parents and grandparents, we can boost our signal with aluminum foil! Bend a piece of aluminum foil into a curve and position it behind your router to strengthen your WiFi signal.
Curl Your Hair
Heat styling your hair can damage it so I try to limit my use of blow dryers, curling irons, and hot rollers. You can use aluminum foil to achieve body, volume, and waves without damaging your hair. Before bed, just wrap sections of damp hair lengthwise in foil. Then, roll the foil as tight or loose as you want. In the morning, unroll and remove the foil to reveal your beautiful locks.
As a blogger, I’ve learned the importance of proper lighting and reflection for photography. News flash – those professional photography reflectors are expensive! If, like me, you’d rather use your money for things like food, a college education for your kids, and electricity, you can make your own with the help of aluminum foil. Just cover a sturdy piece of cardboard with aluminum foil and position it where you need to reflect the light.
Choosing the Right Aluminum Foil
Hopefully you’ve found some tips to help make your life easier. I have one final tip for you (and a small gift) to help you make the most of the ideas I’ve shared above. BONUS TIP: Choose the right aluminum foil!
All foil is not created equal. You will get the most out of the tips above if you choose wisely. First and foremost, you want a strong, sturdy aluminum foil so it will hold up to tasks like doubling as eating utensils or serving as a scrubber. Second, if you are taking your foil camping, choose one in packaging that has a lid that stays closed. Your foil will be no good to you if it’s in a crumpled mess at the bottom of your supply bin. Or worse, you don’t want to cut yourself on the jagged edge as you’re reaching for the foil to prepare dinner. If you choose foil with a secure lid, then you can be confident about choosing one with a reliable and consistent cutting edge. The perfectionist in me likes a nice, straight edge on my foil and the thrifty mom in me hates the waste associated with foil that rips when tearing off from the package. Glad™ Foil has all of these features. It’s 30% stronger than the leading brand, had a stay-closed lid that clicks shut, and a pull-up cutting feature that provides a clean, straight cut every time. You can find Glad™ Foil at Albertsons, Food Lion, Hannaford, Lowe’s Food Stores, Brookshire, Meijer, Harris Teeter, Demoulas Market Basket, and Futuro Foods.