What To Do With The Junk

Who is wise? He that learns from every one.
Who is powerful? He that governs his passions.
Who is rich? He that is content.
Who is that? Nobody.
–Benjamin Franklin

So you’re eating well. What on earth to do with that pantry full of staples? That big bottle of corn oil, the cola, the flour, the oats, the cornstarch, the sugar and brown sugar and corn syrup? Do you just throw them away?

Absolutely not! We’re nothing if not thrifty here at askmehowithappened.com, so here’s some things to do with that stuff besides poison yourself with it.


1. Body Scrub. Mix your brown sugar with whatever kind of oil you prefer and it makes a lovely skin scrub. It’ll feel like a day at the beach, only without the dryness from all the salt water.

2. Grinder Scourer. Throw some white or brown sugar in your coffee grinder or blender, run it for a minute or two, and it’ll scrub that baby out beautifully.

3. Antibacterial. Know why that bottle of corn syrup lasts up there for years? It can’t go bad because it’s too sweet. Large amounts of sugar…ahem…KILL THINGS. In a pinch you can pour some on a wound and bandage it up tightly.

4. Hand Cleanser. If you’ve got a lot of junk on your hands that won’t come off with just the soap, scrub your hands with sugar while you wash. It’ll get off the grime and won’t ruin your skin (or sting) like salt.

5. Flower Extender. Put some sugar in the water of freshly cut flowers so they look beautiful for longer.

6. Wasp Murderer. Got a wasp hanging around where the kids play? Make a simple syrup (equal amounts sugar and water boiled till reduced and thick) and put it in a glass jar. Put it outside. The wasp will fly in, get stuck, and stop being trouble. This will get that pesky fly out of the house, too.

7. Grass-Stain Remover. Get out grass stains by mixing sugar and water into a thick paste, spreading on the stain and leaving for an hour before washing. It won’t whiten the clothing like salt would.

8. DirtyLittleSecret. And finally….would I ever eat refined sugar voluntarily? Yep. Two reasons.

  • You Sherlock Holmes fans will recall the mystery in which a man is found on the beach, covered in welts that look like whip lashes and nearly dead. A swig of brandy saves his life, and it turns out he’s been stung by a Man ‘O War jellyfish. Well, sugar is a stimulant and it has its uses there. Disagree with me if you want, but I have a friend who has to undergo painful treatments at the hospital once every two weeks. It’s outpatient, and afterward she often feels a little light-headed and weak. This is difficult, seeing as there’s no good place to wait there to recover, and, this being a developing country, getting home and doing things are all just a bit more difficult than they are back home. A little bit of something sugary (always in a delivery mechanism full of protective fat) revives her without making her crave more sugar. A half a Payday bar or a little box of full-fat chocolate milk once every two weeks isn’t going to hurt her.
  • When I get the hiccups and they just won’t go away, no remedy works for me except swallowing a spoonful of sugar, dry, slowly. Thankfully I rarely get hiccups.


1. Grease Rinser. Pour cola on stubborn grease or oil on kitchen counters, tile floors, or garages. Let it sit over night and it scrubs off more easily.

2. De-Ruster. Soak a rough fabric in cola and use it to scrub off rust. Also pour cola over rusty bolts to loosen them. (Give it a little time to work, though)

3. Burnt-Pan Cleaner. Let burnt pans sit in cola for a little while and they should come clean more easily.

4. Gum Shampoo. If you, or your toddler, gets gum in your hair, let it sit in any soda for a few minutes before trying to get it out.

5. Laundry Helper. A cup of lemon/lime soda added in the wash will help get grease and blood stains out, as well as leave the clothes smelling fresh.

6. DirtyLittleSecret. Finally, is there ever a reason I’d voluntarily drink soda? Yes, one. When traveling in a developing country, it is possible to get quite sick from bad food. When you can’t get Pepto and the local “doctors” would just tell you to spend the night vomiting and see them in the morning, cola can save your life. Cola is generally better than lemon lime or orange in this application because it helps balance PH levels in your stomach. In the last 15 years it’s saved me a good 10 times. One time I was even saved by Sprite–I succumbed to a dangerous stomach ailment (probably food poisoning) when alone. I couldn’t keep down anything for days–not even water. I couldn’t reach anyone on the phone. Finally I was so weak I couldn’t crawl all the way to the bathroom, when FINALLY someone called to see how I was. I begged her to bring over Sprite–which, sure enough, I was able to keep down. I don’t know why, I just knew somehow that my body would reject any kind of cola. I needed something milder and without caffeine. That Sprite gave me enough strength to get up and helped me keep down water and bland food.

Corn Syrup:

1. Bubbles. In this post, I mention how to make lovely bubbles for your kids. That’s about all I know to do with corn syrup besides poison myself with it. I don’t keep it around.

2. DirtyLittleSecret. Would I ever voluntarily eat corn syrup? Nope.


Flour or Corn Starch:

1. Goo. Yup. 1 1/2 T of water, some food coloring in whatever color you like, and 1/4 C of corn starch. Mix it thoroughly. Then you play with it. When you squeeze it, it goes solid. Relax and it liquefies. Just like quicksand, you can hit it as hard as you want with a spoon and it won’t go in–but let the spoon relax, and it get sucked down. Your hand too. See if you can get it out…

2. Play dough, of course. Some recipes here.

3. Sink Shiner. Sprinkle flour in it while dry, then wipe down with clean rag. Shiny sink!

4. Copper Polisher. Equal parts flour, salt, and vinegar makes a good copper polisher.

5. Watercolor Paint. Heat 1 C of flour and 2 C of water gently, stirring till thickened. Then add whatever food coloring you want to get the desired color, and your kids can use it as watercolor paint for their home art projects.

6. DirtyLittleSecret. Would I ever eat flour voluntarily? Nope.

Corn or seed oil:

1. Bubble Bath. 2 cups of corn oil, 3 T of shampoo, and any essential oil you like whirled together make a bubble bath.

2. Antifreeze. Rub gaskets with it to keep them from freezing in winter.

3. Shovel Seasoner. Oil down your shovel in winter to prevent snow from sticking to it while you clear the driveway.

4. Burr Removal. Remove burrs or anything sticky from your dog or cat by dousing it in corn oil before washing the animal.

5. Zombie Preparation. Prepare for the End of Time with your cheap corn oil lanterns.

6. Ear Mite Treatment. Oddly, corn oil appears to work beautifully for treating ear mites in cats. Put a drop or two in every day for three days, cleaning the ear out with a cotton ball afterward.

7. Paper Remover. If you’ve got some paper stuck to a wooden object, rub the paper down with oil. Let it sit a bit and it’ll soften and peel off.

8. DirtyLittleSecret. Would I ever voluntarily eat corn oil? Don’t think so. Not when there’s butter, lard, coconut oil, olive oil, ghee, and bacon fat to be had in plenty.


1. Anti-itch. I had a friend once who swore by oats in the bathwater to end any kind of itchy skin. It also works well on dogs.

2. Animal shampoo. Oatmeal shampoo is great for cleaning dogs. Gets them cleaner for longer. If you skinned something and need to clean the fur before tanning it, scrub it with oats.

3. Fridge deodorizer. Some uncooked oats in the fridge absorbs odors nicely.

4. DirtyLittleSecret. Would I ever voluntarily eat oats? Maybe. But basically I don’t eat them because…why on earth bother? They’re tasteless and provide nothing that you can’t get in far larger and more bio-available amounts from all kinds of meats vegetables. They’re kind of a comfort food for some people, which is fine, but not if you’re only eating them after dumping tons of sugar, raisins, cinnamon, and butter into them.


Plato says he’s hungry

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2 thoughts on “What To Do With The Junk

  1. Oh yeah, I’ve used oats to clean tanned furs. Interesting use there, it works well. Sort of absorbs any extra oils in the fur and helps separate the finer hairs in the fur to make it fluffy and more original after soaking in tanning solution.

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