Santa Hackgate 2015 is reaching its conclusion, and it’s not looking good: The big man, cracking under the pressure of hackers releasing his Naughty List, has decided that everyone in the world is getting coal. Will he go through with it? Watch this video to find out whether the Claus’s small heart can grow three sizes that day.
In the meantime, citizens of the world should be prepared to have a lot of excess charcoal on hand. That’s not exactly the worst thing. Believe it or not, the dusty black substance has a lot of unexpected uses. Here are five of the best:
- Never buy baking powder again. Forget that weird orange box that hangs out in the back of your fridge or cabinet, growing grosser by the month. Charcoal absorbs both moisture and odors, and a few briquettes placed on a small dish will keep any damp, potentially odoriferous area dry and fresh. Just make sure you don’t buy charcoal with any weird scents like mesquite, or match-light charcoal that’s been infused with lighter fluid.
- Keep cut flowers fresh for longer. Activated charcoal — aka charcoal that has been treated with oxygen, in order to open up “pores” between carbon atoms — is great for filtering out impurities. So when you have fresh-cut flowers in the house and can’t be bothered to change the water daily, just drop a charcoal briquette into the vase. It will draw out impurities in the water and keep those flowers smelling fresh and looking great longer.
- Restore a rusted-over cast-iron skillet. Cast-iron skillets are great for cooking, and will last forever if you clean and season them properly. If you don’t, though, they can collect rust. But all is not lost. If your cast-iron skillet does become oxidized, just build a hot fire in your charcoal grill and “cook” the pan over the flames for an hour or so. Eventually, the rust will flake off and your skillet will be good as new, and ready for re-seasoning.
- Whiten your teeth the DIY way. Though it seems illogical — how can putting black stuff on my teeth make them whiter? — it’s true. Charcoal has adhesive properties that can pick up coffee, tea, and red wine stains. To try it safely, buy activated charcoal pills from the pharmacy. Break up a couple pills, mix with a small amount of water, and rub the paste on your teeth with your finger. (Don’t brush; the charcoal’s grittiness could hurt your enamel.) Leave the paste on for three to five minutes, and rinse. Et voila!
- Replace the mulch in your garden. This works best with all-natural lump hardwood charcoal. Charcoal hoovers up water, so burying chunks of it in your topsoil can help keep it moist, and even reduce organic pesticide levels, too. You also can crush up charcoal and spread it over the surface of your soil. Not only will this carpet of charcoal serve as a striking visual feature for your garden, it also can help prevent weeds from taking root.
Despite these handy uses, surely everyone would prefer to get their charcoal from the hardware store rather than their stocking. Hopefully Santa will veer away from this crazy mission to punish the whole world — and finally install Norton Security by next Christmas, so that this never happens again.
Hunter Slaton is the content director for Studio@Gawker.