Can Pennies Be Pie Weights? 13 Smart Household Hacks That Put Your Spare Change To Good Use
Put the Abe Lincoln coin to good use.
These days, coins — especially pennies — have no greater use than cluttering your purse. Or maybe they do: The humble penny is a great tool to keep on hand. Along with rubber bands, binder clips, twist ties, tape, and scissors, the Abe Lincoln coin should have a dedicated spot in your household junk drawer. (Don’t let them just pile up in miscellaneous drawers and change jars.) Below, check out 10 penny hacks, from repairing a leaky birdhouse to gently stopping your dog from barking at anything and everything.
1) Patch a leak in a birdhouse roof.
The weather has done a number on the roof of your beloved backyard birdhouse, and you worry about water seeping in through cracks. The quick fix: Use strong glue to attach a penny (or pennies) on top of the hole or crack. You can paint over if desired to help it blend in. The waterproof coin will block out the elements, ensuring any bird visitors stay cozy and dry.
2) Banish pesky garden slugs.
The secret to ensuring your outdoor plants and seedlings are safe from harmful, hungry slugs: Place a circle of pennies (dated before 1982) in the soil around the base of any young plants or those that show signs of damage. The copper in the older coins gives the critters a tiny electric shock on contact (caused by the exchange of electrons between the slimy slugs and the metal), so they’ll avoid your precious greenery moving forward.
3) Easily stabilize a wobbly chair.
While relaxing on the porch one afternoon, you notice that your chair is a bit unsteady. The easy fix: Measure by placing pennies under the leg that’s not sitting flat, then remove and glue the pennies together. Once dry, use strong glue to attach the stack to the bottom of the chair leg. (Glue felt on top of that if you are worried about the coins scratching your deck.) Problem solved!
4) Fly-proof an outdoor meal.
Want even more great uses for pennies? If you love enjoying dinner outside in the summer, but pesky flies can make the experience less than pleasant. To keep them at bay, fill a resealable clear plastic bag with water, then add a few pennies inside. Attach a string to the bag and tie it to a nearby sun-kissed tree, porch railing, or other sturdy yard item. Why this works: Light reflecting off the pennies confuses flies, so the pests will fly elsewhere and leave you in peace.
5) Put an end to pup’s barking.
If Rover has a habit of barking at everything and everyone he sees, try this: Wash out an old soda or seltzer can and drop five to 10 pennies inside, then seal the opening with tape. The next time he barks, shake the can several times. He’ll find the sound unsettling and stop. When he does, praise him. After a few times, he’ll learn to quit entirely. (And if this doesn’t do the trick? Try out this training hack to stop him from barking for good.)
6) Extend the life of fresh flowers.
The fresh-flower arrangement you made really brightens up the room. To enjoy it as long as possible, drop a penny stamped with a date prior to 1982 into the vase. The copper in these older coins kills wilt-causing bacteria so blooms stay healthy. The reason? Copper is a natural fungicide. (If you don’t have any old pennies on hand, simply change the water every day. Don’t fill the vase more than an inch or two — too much water may drown the cut flowers.)
7) Bake the perfect pie crust.
You’re all ready to blind-bake a pie crust when you realize you don’t have any pie weights. The simple save: Line the crust with foil, top with 25 pennies and bake. The weight from the pennies will prevent the dough from bubbling while the metal in the coins conducts heat for a perfect crust. (Worried about the germs? The coins won’t touch the crust, but if you’re still worried, give them a quick wash with warm soap and water in a bowl.)
8) Soothe bumps and bruises.
Ouch! You banged your arm against the counter and you can’t track down your cold pack. To the rescue: pennies. Rather than using ice or an ice pack (which can melt or make a mess) to soothe a bruise, create a dripless one with pennies. Drop a generous amount of the coins into an old tube sock, tie shut, and freeze. The cold coins will be just as effective — without leaving behind a mess. (Note: Don’t rub the penny back and forth along the bruise to “break it up.” There’s no evidence that this old trick works, and you may be further traumatizing the area.)
9) Fix unsightly carpet dents.
You were inspired to rearrange your living room furniture and love the new look. The only problem? You’re stuck with indentations in the carpet where everything used to be. To make them disappear, hold a penny on its edge and scrape it against the flattened carpet. The rapid friction will cause the fibers to stand up straight, undoing dents in seconds.
10) Clean a coffeepot sans scrubbing.
If the inside of your coffee pot is covered in residue, the culprit is likely limescale, which pennies can help clean. But you don’t have to scrub for hours to get it clean. Instead, drop a handful of the coins and 2 tablespoons of vinegar into the pot. Let sit for a few minutes, then swirl the pot around repeatedly. Finish by dumping out the pennies and vinegar; rinse the pot with boiling water. Why this works: Acetic acid in vinegar dissolves the residue while the pennies’ edges scrape it away.
11) Ensure drapes hang straight.
Argh! Your new curtains are a bit crooked and you don’t want to get store-bought drapery weights. The affordable solution: Tuck a few pennies inside the bottom hem. The pennies will fit perfectly inside the fold of most hems, and the weight will pull on the bottoms of the fabric enough for your drapes to hang straight.
12) Open a tight jar without struggle.
To pry open the lid on a jar of jam or pickles that just won’t budge, enlist the help of a penny. To do: Hold the coin on an angle and carefully wedge it between the lid and the top of the glass jar. Then press up and out. This trick will allow just enough air to get into the vacuum-sealed jar, and the coin will give you more leverage, so the lid is finally a cinch to remove.
13) Tighten a screw — fast.
If the screw on the wheel of your office chair is loose and you can’t locate your flathead screwdriver, enlist the help of a penny. Just insert the coin into the slot on the top of the screw, then press down and twist clockwise. The small penny will fit perfectly into the slot of medium and large flathead screws so you can get the hardware tight again.
Keep these incredible uses for pennies in mind the next time you’re dealing with any of these pesky problems.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.