You love it served with beans, topped with bacon and stirred into soup, but did you know that our favorite carb can also be put to use in a ton of other ways around the house? We’re talking air fresheners, ripening fruits and potentially giving your skin some extra glow. Check out these 14 surprising uses for rice (and then get that bag out of the cupboard, stat).
14 Clever Uses for Rice That Will Surprise You
1. Create A Heat Pack
Sore shoulders, lower back pain and menstruation cramps are no fun, but a nice heat pack can alleviate some of that discomfort. You can create your very own heat pack using some rice, an old sock (or old sheet) and an essential oil of your choice. The DIY tutorial above shows you how in just five minutes.
2. Prevents Tools From Rusting
Your old man loves fixing things around the house, so help him keep his materials pristine for longer. When piled in a toolbox or sprawled in the garage, they are exposed to a lot of moisture which can lead to rusting. Sprinkle some rice at the bottom of the toolbox or place them face down in a jar of rice—the multifunctional grain is also a desiccant (aka moisture absorber.)
3. Create An Air Freshener
Make your own natural, slow releasing air freshener using rice and essential oils to put in small places such as closets or bathrooms. The rice gets coated with the oils to release a gentle (read: not too overpowering) scent around your home. You can even make little sachets to place in your car, as demonstrated in the above video.
4. Create A Temporary Knife Block
This hack is perfect for when you’re in the middle of a move and can’t get your hands on a real knife block or you just received a brand-new cutlery set for your bridal shower. Find a wide mouth jar, fill it with enough rice to cover the blades and place your new set in there for the mean time. Easy.
5. Useful For Cleaning
Some vases, bottles, jars and even household appliances come with hard-to-reach nooks, but that’s nothing a little bit of rice can’t help with. Just add some dishwashing soap, warm water, shake, rinse and repeat as needed.
6. For Rich, Healthy Hair
Rice water cleansing for hair growth is very buzzy right now and while there is no real scientific evidence that it actually works, it does have certain components such as starch, inositol and amino acids that can help keep your tresses and scalp hydrated. Check out the three ways you can make rice water for your hair here.
7. For Glowing Skin
Rice water is also said to enhance the glow of your skin. Proponents say that it softens and brightens skin when used as a facial cleanser or a DIY sheet mask (peep the tutorial above to find out how to make the latter). And a 2013 study showed that fermented rice water can potentially have some anti-aging effects.
8. Blind Baking
Keep this one in the back of your mind when you have to bake hordes of pies during the holidays, and you forget to pick up pie weights from the store. You can easily substitute them with rice—just make sure to pour enough to evenly spread across the pastry. Note: You won't be able to cook or eat the rice afterward, but it can be used over and over again for blind baking, so keep a labeled jar with your other baking supplies.
9. Make A Weighted Eye Mask
If you need a weighted eye mask but don’t want to dole out the extra cash to buy one, you can simply make one yourself. Throw in some dried lavender too for an added relaxing aroma.
10. Ripen Fruit
To give your fruit an extra boost so it ripens faster, simply submerge it into a bucket of rice. This multifaceted grain is great at trapping ethylene—the gas that fruit produces as its ripening. You’ll be devouring that mango in a matter of days.
11. Testing Oil Temperature For Frying
Our mothers could simply dip a finger in oil to see just how hot it is, but if you’re not as ballsy, don’t worry, rice has got your back. Simply toss one grain at a time into the pan to measure temperature. If the grain sinks to the bottom of the pan, then the oil is not ready. If it floats however, that means your oil is nice and hot and you may begin frying.
12. Hold Things Steady
13. Make Arts And Crafts
Rice is also the perfect material for arts and crafts with the kids. With a little bit of paint, some glue and lots of newspapers to catch any spills, you can create photo frames (above) to give as gifts or unique art pieces—like these colorful flowers or this gorgeous peacock—to hang in their rooms.
14. Make Rice Glue
That’s right. You can use any leftover cooked rice to make glue for your arts and crafts. It’s not as strong as Elmer’s, but perfect for when you just want to create some art for the day. Learn how to make glue in your own kitchen with the video above.
Wait, What About Putting A Wet Phone In Rice?
Unfortunately, this one’s a myth. While we’ve all heard that submerging your phone into a bucket of rice after dropping it in water can save it, the pros at Gazelle tested this method and found it didn’t work. Your best bet is disassembling the device, letting it dry and taking it to get checked out ASAP.