10 Awesome Uses for Tin Foil

Tinfoil has many uses. While most people use it for cooking and storing leftovers, there are a number of other uses that make this household product worth adding to your emergency preparedness plans. Here are our top 10 favorite uses.

1. Sharpen Scissors
Yes, you read that right. To do it you will first need to smooth the foil out followed by fold the sheets into strips making several layers. Next grab your scissors and start cutting. Eight or nine passes of the foil sheet should do the trick!

2. Clean jewelry and silverware
Line a bowl with aluminum foil and fill it up with hot water. Next add 1 tablespoon of bleach-free powdered (not liquid) laundry detergent. Then simply place the jewelry or silverware in the solution for one minute. After the time has passed remove the items, rinse in water, and then lay out to air dry. The ion exchange chemical process cleans your items all by itself.

tin foil3. Keep birds away from your fruit trees
Similar to dangling a CD disk from a branch, you can dangle strips of tinfoil from the limbs with fishing line. The light reflections scare the birds so they will simply go somewhere else. My in-laws in Arizona have been using this technique to keep their orange trees bird-free for many years now.

4. Clean your grill
After the last burger has been pulled off the grill lay a flat sheet of tin foil over the grill. This will help redirect the heat passing through the grill back through it a second time. Leave the foil on the grill until the next use when you simply wad the foil into a ball and run it back and forth against the tough burnt on grease, like you would with a wire brush.

5. Lure a fish
I grew up fishing in a little pond near my home. We would take my Dad’s gear and catch bluegill. The only down side of the trips were when lures would get snagged and we had to cut the line.

After a little while we realized this particular fish wasn’t all that smart. We could simply throw in an empty silver or gold colored treble hook (unbaited) and they would still strike. We noticed over time that the brighter the reflection from the hook the more bluegills/crappie would come.

Using this concept you could take tin foil and attach small wads near a swivel then run a short leader with your hook or lure of choice. The extra reflection (at least with this species of fish) would bring even more attention to your offering.

6. Keep matches dry
Wrap your matches in aluminum foil. Stuff them in your pack and the next time you need a reliable way to light a fire, pull out the dry matches and get that fire going. No more worrying if the matches are wet from the thunderstorm that just passed.

7. Make a funnel
Need to route liquid into a certain spot such as adding oil to an engine block? Sure you can buy a plastic funnel for a couple bucks but you could also tear off 10 inches of foil and mold it into a funnel shape shape and use aluminum foil instead.

8. Make a frying pan
Don’t want to lug a heavy frying pan the next time you're venturing into the great outdoors? Grab a branch that forks, tear off a sheet of ton foil a little wider than the width of the forking branches then wrap the ends around the two limbs to create a flat pan like surface in between the two branches. If the food items you are cooking are not too heavy you can hover the food above the fire, if it is too heavy arrange the burning wood to lay flatter then lower the "frying pan" onto the top logs.

9. Campfire cooking
Most people reading this have probably had the privilege of making a tin foil BBQ dinner. If not give this a try! Simply place chicken or ground beef in the shape of a patty in the middle of a sheet of tin foil. Next add carrots, onions, potatoes, other veggies, and season to taste. A helpful tip is to cut the veggies thin so all of the items are good to eat at the same time. Next fold the ends of the foil over the food, encompassing it entirely. Flip the silvery puck over and put another layer of tin foil folding it back over the other way. The multiple layers will make sure the food doesn’t burn. Cook time should be 20-30 minutes in the coals.

10. Build a seed incubator
Help jump start your gardening. Line a shoe box or other similar shaped box with foil (shiny side up) making sure the foil extends a couple inches past the top of the box. Next poke a couple drainage holes in the bottom of the foil. Next fill the box about half way with potting soil and plant your seeds. Place the box near a window that gets good amounts of sunlight. It works because the inside layer will redirect heat to the seeds while the foil layer extending past the top of the box will help redirect sunlight back into the box.

These are just a 10 uses for tin foil but we know there are hundreds more so we would love your help adding to this resource. Share with us your favorite applications below and you could win a $10 gift card if your comment is our favorite! Also, browse our selection of emergency supplies for everything from shelter and cooking to first aid.

53 thoughts on “10 Awesome Uses for Tin Foil”

  • Craig

    You forgot making foil hats. :) Good article.

  • Diane Dennis

    Who woulda thunk? Those are some great ideas, thank you for your article! :)

  • Diane Dennis

    I roll pieces long and thin (and solid) and then line them up side by side but with spacing between each, place a pan with freshly baked cookies or brownies or cake, etc. on top of the rolled foil, and I have an impromptu cooling rack. :)

  • Bryan Foster

    Dear Sir/Madam,
    My name is Bryan Foster (aka Zion Prepper). I'm the author of two books: The Prepper's Handbook and The Christian Prepper's Handbook.
    I read your article on the 10 Awesome Uses For Tin Foil and really enjoyed it.
    I would like your permission to use parts or perhaps the entire article, verbatim, in my third book.
    My third book is on self-sufficiency and this article is a perfect match.
    I appreciate your time.

  • Brian

    The use I most use, is getting a wad of tinfoil, get it wet, & rubbing it on a corroded car bumper, to get it shiny again.(chrome bumpers)

  • Elizabeth

    I used foil to melt paraffin in, then rolled match heads in the paraffin to make them waterproof. Paraffin can catch fire, so proceed with caution.

  • Dave

    The hats...you forgot the hats. Now, what would all the "normal" people out there think if we(preppers) didn't have our "tin foil" hats in place? LOL :)

  • Mike

    what about wrapping your electronics in two layers of foil and putting in your Farraday cage.

  • Robert Walker


  • Lee

    Ever walked into your bathroom and wondered if that fly or spider... has just left your toothbrush, searching out water or that sweet scent of toothpaste? I use foil to fashion a cap to place over the bristles of my toothbrush. Sometimes those "brown spots" flies leave behind may be hard to discern on a little toothbrush bristle.I leave a narrow space below the foil cap to allow air circulation, to allow bristles to dry, but not enough for insects to access. The foil cap is formed and stiff enough to be used for a week or two at a time.

  • Wendy

    My mom saw something on Pinterest about loosely wadding foil and putting it into the dryer instead of a dryer sheet. She said it works great. I haven't tried it, but as soon as my dryer bar says replace I will.

  • Jan

    I use it to cover the edge of my pies so they don't get too dark on baking.

  • Jack Poppy

    The movie was Signs and two kids wore them so the aliens could not read their thoughts.. They had read it in a book

  • Jack Poppy

    I have used tin foil to hold lint from the drier to help start camp fires. Take a double layer or triple layer of foil and place lint from the drier on the middle fold it to protect it from water and getting wet. I put mine in a sealed baggy to help. When you need it open the sides of the foil to create a wind break, use your flint and steel to light the lint lay it down and have your other kindling ready as the lint goes fast. I keep several on my 72 Hour kit.

  • Brandy

    We love a warm cobbler whipped up in the dutch oven over a campfire... Who wouldn't?! But if your temp gets a little too hot, the crust of crud that results may force you to have to strip the oven down and reseason it (sadly, I speak from experience). I'll never make cobbler again without lining my dutch oven with foil first... lol. Also, I made a funnel of foil this weekend to get rice into 2L bottles for long-term storage this weekend. :)

  • Edie

    So many uses! Put it in the attic between your rafters, to reflect heat, and over the windows to shade out the sun. Make a solar oven! Crunch it up and clean the grill.

  • Mary Frances

    "Prepper" Friends:
    I sit here in my charming tin foil hat--with less than good news. A caution about 'tin' foil. First, it isn't. It is aluminum foil nowadays. Aluminum has great qualities and --is NOT good for human consumption. If it is going to be exposed to your food and high heat, it will 'atomize' into your food. My Doctors have reported this to me, and I've seen it in forward thinking literature. So I no longer use it for baking or cooking. In fact, I took it out of the bottom of my oven (was GREAT for catching drips of grease & sugar which make such a mess and smoke) because it becomes unstable and airborne in that heat. I don't even wrap my electric stoves 'splash bowls' under the element with it anymore. Notice how fragile & ashy it gets in that application? It is becoming unstable and floating into the kitchen air & your cooking food,too. It has been implicated in Alzheimer's and many other serious ailments. Do your own research.

    If you can find STEEL foil, that is terrific. But it is very expensive and rare.

    Sending this with respect, Mary Frances

    • Doug

      I'm 64 years old and have never seen "Tin Foil". As the earlier poster said, it is ALUMINUM foil and it should not be used to cook or store any food that is acidic. Just like with aluminum pans, the aluminum is 'dissolved' and ends up in your brain, which is believed to be a main cause of Alzheimers disease. Just to be on the safe side, I never use aluminum in the kitchen, unless it is coated.
      You can buy tin foil from an industrial supply store, but it is very expensive.

  • Sabine

    Foil works great to teach your pets not to climb on your new sofa or enter certain areas of your home. Place sheets of foil on your furniture or into the doorway where you don't want your pet to go. Cats and dogs or other pets that have pads under their feet do not like contact with foil. After a couple of weeks your pet will avoid the area automatically. I have tried this and it works very well. It's just like housebreaking your puppy, works on older animals as well.

  • Jack Poppy

    It is also really good to keep fire kindling dry for emergency fire starts. I take lint from the dryer and wrap it in two layers of foil. Lint is a really good way to start fires if the chips are down. Simply wrap some lint in two layers of foil. If you need it you open use the foil to create a small windbreak. Using flint and steel light the lint and lay the foil and lint on the ground. Add other kindling and then bigger wood and stay warm.

  • dave

    Road trip cooking. Wrap the food you wish to cook in double layers of foil. Place the bundle on a secure location on top of your engine or manifold. Drive to your destination. Unwrap your dinner and enjoy. Cooking/driving time will vary depending on what it is that you are cooking. There are various books available on this topic and they include recipes as well as required cooking times

    • Doug

      Engine cooking sounds much better than it works. I once cooked on the exhaust manifold of my '57 Studebaker Silver Hawk. When I got to my destination, Cleveland, I checked the chicken and it wasn't done, yet.
      So, I kept on driving. It wasn't done until I got to Toledo.
      It wasted a lot of time and gas. I could have eaten in a diner cheaper. And by the time I got back to Cleveland, I was late for my meeting and was hungry, again.

  • Cecilia

    Use foil to make homemade kindling for starting a fire. Take precut foil sheets and cut into 9 pieces. Then lightly coat cotton balls with petroleum jelly (don't put it on heavy) - you want the cotton loose enough so it starts pulling apart in your fingers. Place it on your small piece of foil, fold over gently and crimp the edges over so you still have a round ball. Put the kindling in a baggie and when you need to use it cut an X over the round ball and peel back the edges. Use a fire starter, flint, matches etc. to light it. Add some twigs or leaves slowly and then your wood. We've had cotton balls burn for over 15 minutes this way.

  • Rachel

    Maybe these foil fumes and chemical breakdown are behind the increase in autism. Should pregnant woman avoid using foil?
    When I got my first parrot, I spent two separate nights in the vet ER, because, as I figured out, each time we cooked in the oven, the drip sheet I had purchased from a catalogue was releasing fumes in the air. $800 later, we solved that mystery and saves his life.

  • Galen

    I like to make little portable heaters that I can use over and over. I take a square piece of the heavy duty foil about 24" x 24" and then I put a block of the wax coated fire starter that you can get at ACE Hardware and put it in the middle of the foil. Then to store I just fold it up into a small square. To use I unfold it and shape the foil into a large reflector and then with the fire starter laying in the reflector I light it and it puts out a lot of heat to get me warmed up fast. I can just extinguish it and fold it up for use at another time.

  • Jimmy

    Folding foil into a hat makes a great container. you can use it as a drinking cup or use two layers heavy duty foil and reinforce the edges with sticks and hang it from a tripod and heat water or soup (do not stir with a fork you might put a hole in the foil).

  • Larry Bryer

    Bet you didn't know that used foil is just as effective as new foil for making your hats. I have been doing it for years. I have saved several hundred dollars it doing this. I have a neighbor who cooks a meat loaf every Sunday. She covers it with foil so it won't burn the tomatoey stuf on top. She saves the foil for me. I usually go over to get it on Sunday afternoon while the stuff that sticks to it is still fresh. When I get it back to my house, I simply wipe it with a slice of bread, and I have a nice meal and a new hat.

  • John R

    I have seen U-tube videos of youngsters putting aluminum foil in blenders and making a powder. Mix with a little fertilizer, make a ball, step back, (way back) shoot it with a rifle, and watch it go "boom."

  • sonya

    There are some good tips here but don't cook with tin foil; or at least line it with parchment; we get too much aluminum as it is ; did you know it's in your frozen cheese pizzas to help melt the cheese? It's been shown that alzheimers patients have a higher level in their brains. Lots of studies on this.

  • Jeff

    As far as the tin foil cooking goes - consider laying out your foil (shiny side up). First layer the sliced vegetables, then place the meat patty on top of them, and then place another layering of the vegetables on top of the meat patty. Fold the foil to seal it up tight. Add the second layer of foil and fold it to seal it well with the shiny side in. This way you can flip the package over in the coals for more even cooking.

  • jim

    What do you mean, "tin foil"? Tin foil is no longer manufactured. If you're talking about sluminum foil, or aluminum wrap, why are you calling it "tin"? Tin is tin, a metal. Tin is not aluminum, which is a different metal. I know that the original tin foil product, years ago, was truly made of tin, and that term carried on, even when tin foil was replaced by aluminum wrap, but, to be accurate, you should call an entity what it truly is - aluminum wrap.

  • Jeff

    To Jim,

    Picky, picky.


  • Nan

    I used it when I was in the Army in Germany back in the 70's to cover the windows because we WAC's didn't have any curtains in our barracks.

  • Crocker

    Isn't there a concern with poisoning from aluminum foil? It was a concern some years back when people were using aluminum pots and pans - which allowed trace amounts of aluminum to get into the food from contact with utensils scraping the sides and bottoms.

  • Melissa

    In Alzheimer's patients the only diagnostic proof of the disease is an abundance of aluminum ion in the brain on autopsy. Possible reasons for this disease may very well be the increased use of T-fal and non stick cookware the aluminum in soda and other acidic items, as well as aluminum foil. Alzheimers was very rare before these[conveniences] made life easier. I worked in many Alzheimer facilities and you absolutely do not want it so do all you can to prevent it. As for Autism and ADHD type conditions, I whole heartily agree.

  • John Miser

    A little tin foil and windex, has been found to be the best thing around, to remove your charred and encrusted remains of gun powder, and baked lubricants from fire arms. If you have a bolt or receiver that's clogged give it a try! The weapon will need a good lubrication when your are done, as this takes the grime down to the dry metal. It is also significantly less greasy and messy to the person cleaning, than traditional gun solvents.

  • Cathy N

    We used aluminum foil on a large flat rock in a fire pit to cook breakfast...eggs, pancakes, bacon. It was the best meal ever. The rock got hot enough to cook the breakfast.

  • Susan M.

    I use a narrow aluminum foil strip to wrap the bottom of a candle that is loose in any candle holder. I also use layers of aluminum foil for my artist paints. I squeeze the paint colors on to the disposable foil. Just fold it up and you can come back to your paints a little later or simply dispose when finished painting for the day.

  • Karragen N.

    I am going to try the fish lure!

  • Get2Prep

    Great ideas!
    Just a note...cheap brand aluminum foil can be flammable.
    I found this out the hard way - made a basic windbreak for my little colemans stove. After a few minutes, a flame started.
    Tried the same with a higher quality "brand" and no fire.

  • Hayden

    I was happy to see Mary Francis's writing on Apr. 8, 2014. I was beginning to wonder whether everybody'd gone nuts! True, TIN foil not readily available(if at all). Aluminum foil has unhealthy properties and if it were cigarettes it would have attached warnings and restrictions.
    Mary, we're not going to make much of an impression on people about their favorite kitchen assistant, but we tried!

  • bill


  • Don O.

    Dave will be delighted to know that I put a sheet of Al foil in my hat and boots to reflect heat.

  • Jason

    With the drought out West and the long winter in Northeast were I live, I increased my garden. Areas that don't get full sun all day I made makeshift aluminum walls to reflect more sun to those plants. Other then that I make the walls to cover Windows and glass doors to reflect the heat in or out depending on the season. It helps out a lot more then I expected it to. Cuts on cost. I can't BBQ without the stuff even if it causes Alzheimer's or death by anal leakage. Wait 5 yrs and they will say it's great for you.

  • Susan Shafer

    You know how aluminum foil feels if you accidentally get it in your teeth? Rabbits feel the same way. Wrap your tree and whatever else needs protection. It's cheaper than buying those tree tubes.

  • Viking David

    We Recycle Many items-One is Foil. The holidays are always loaded with big Tinfoil trays. Any left-over Foil in our household is recycled.

  • Debbie

    Take a small piece of foil, take a small ball of dryer lint and drip candle wax onto the dryer lint close the foil up make several to put in your BOB, they take very little space and light weight for fire starters. Ready to use, just open the foil, set the lint on fire, place a few small branches or dry grass to get your fire going. Excellent little fire starter, yes you can use a lighter, but opening the foil around the lint, will block the wind from blowing out the fire and the candle wax will burn slow so your fire can really get going. This is great just give it a try.

  • Zorine

    Aluminum Accumulates in the Bones and in the Brain.
    As the metal aluminum is present in our food, water supply,
    soil, medications, and our cosmetics, most people suffer from some degree of aluminum toxicity. After years of accumulated exposure and storage of it in body tissues, this poison can have results ranging from brain degeneration to skeletal deformities.

    Researchers found dangerously high levels of aluminum in foods after being cooked, reheated, and even cooled on aluminum foil. The cause for alarm is that when aluminum accumulates in the body, it can lead to osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s.Also any cosmetic including antiperspirant, having contact with the skin is absorbed into the body.
    Check for yourself. Google - dangers of aluminum

  • Frank

    These ideas all sound great, but I would consider adding aluminum duct tape, some lights wire and a few binder clips in different sizes in order to be able to fold, shape, wrap and then secure the foil.
    It would make it easier to create reflective panels if the foil was glued or taped. And for outdoor cooking the binder clips or wire would let you attach the foil easily to sticks and other tools. And the binder clips and wire would be more heat resistant than any type of duct tape with the wire being able to wrap and thus secure the foil around any shape imaginable.

    And I'd find a cleaner that removes grease easily for situations where I want to reuse the foil.

  • Karl tanner

    Solar oven and solar pizza box oven. I have also used foil in a round chip container for a hotdog cooker. Lots of plans for all on we . They work. Hot dog cooker is easies . Cut round chip container approximately 6-8 inches lengthwise in middle. Cut slits to great a flap. Line container with shiny side of foil and get as many wrinkles out as possible. Place stick from one end to other and scewer hotdog in middle. Like a rotisseri. Place facing sun cook and eat.

  • Bud Twizer

    Nice to see the whack jobs out in force complaining about using foil. cuckoo cuckoo

  • Mac

    i used to use a piece of aluminum foil as bait to catch pickerel. A meal lead was necessary cause they would bite that off. The aluminum foil is good bait for fish that like shining swimming things.

  • Alfreda

    Great article,I like the seed incubator.I can jump start my gardening.You can use it as a bowl for your food.Use the heavy duty aluminium foil.

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