14 Unexpected Uses for Sugar


Dr. Oz, the cardiothoracic surgeon made famous by Oprah Winfrey, said "We don't need sugar to live, and we don't need it as a society."

Well, he may be right, but sugar in moderation is something most of us really enjoy. From the occasional cake and candy bar, to a sweetener for drinks, it's been with us at least since 510 BC, and perhaps thousands of years before. And judging by the number of sugary treats now available, it's not exactly a dying trend. (See also: 23 Easy Microwaveable Desserts)

Of course, too much of it, like anything, is a bad thing. But when you're not using sugar as a sweetener, what else can you do with it? Dr. Oz may be surprised at just how much society can benefit from the sweet treat.

Here are 15 uses for sugar that don't involve coffee, candy, or cake. If you're reading this Dr. Oz, let us know if you still think sugar is unnecessary. (See also: 15 Surprising Uses for Peanut Butter)

1. Erase Grass Stains

If the kids love skidding across the grass on their knees (or, you do) you can remove those stains with sugar. Just mix up a thick paste of sugar with a few drops of tap water and work it into the stain. The granules also act as a gentle abrasive to get those stains out. Leave the sugar mixture on for 30-60 minutes, and then wash as usual.

2. Heal Bed Sores and Other Wounds

What started as folk medicine from Africa is now being used by the medical profession to heal bed sores, leg ulcers, and even amputations. The science behind it is that sugar draws water out of the wound, and bacteria needs water to survive. No water, no bacteria. You may need more sugar at first, but as the wound heals, you'll use less and less. And, it's inexpensive compared to ointments and creams.

3. Clean the Grinder

The grinder you use for coffee beans, nuts, and whatever else you can think of, needs to be cleaned regularly. If not, the blades can be dulled by the remnants. Simply pour ½ cup of granulated sugar into the grinder and let it whizz around for a few minutes. It will not only clean the blades, but deodorize them too. (See also: Best Coffee Grinders)

4. Kill Wasps and Flies

Create a thick sugar and water solution by boiling equal amounts in a pan. Pour the mixture into an empty jar or soda bottle and leave it where the bugs are, well, bugging you. They will fly in, get stuck, and bother you no more. (See also: How to Use Beer to Get Rid of Pests)

5. Soothe a Burnt Tongue

Whether it's from some seriously spicy food, or something just hot in temperature, a burnt tongue is no joke. Sugar can come to the rescue though. If you have sugar cubes in the pantry, pop one on your tongue for some instant relief. Otherwise, a teaspoon of sugar will do just as well.

6. Make a Cheap and Effective Body Scrub

It may seem counter-intuitive to put sticky sugar on yourself in the shower, but many people swear by this one. Take a very ripe banana (ideally, one of those poor black-skinned ones that is ready for the trash) and mash it up with three tablespoons of sugar and one teaspoon of olive oil. The sugar granules act as an exfoliant, and the banana and oil moisturize the skin. Then, shower it all off, and be surprised at how smooth your skin is. (See also: 4 Natural, DIY Facial Products)

7. Cake and Cheese Freshener

The same properties of sugar that heal wounds also keep cakes and cheese fresher for longer. Just pop a couple of sugar cubes in an airtight container with your cake, and it will extend your dessert's life by up to a week. The cheese will also stay fresh, as the sugar keeps the mold at bay.

8. Flower Food

A bouquet of fresh flowers looks beautiful, but those looks fade fast. Sugar can keep those freshly cut flowers looking great for much longer. Simply add three tablespoons of sugar and two tablespoons of vinegar to the water in the vase. Stir it around, and pop your flowers in for an extended stay. The sugar feeds the flowers, the vinegar fights bacteria that wants to kill them. (See also: 10 Weird Ways to Use Vinegar)

9. Hand Cleaner

If you've been doing some work on the car or something else just as greasy, you're in for quite the scrubbing job. Sugar can speed up the cleaning process. Sprinkle granulated sugar over your greasy hands and rub well, adding a little soap. The grains are abrasive, and they loosen the grease, while the soap keeps the grease trapped. Rinse as normal. Your hands will also feel softer.

10. Wipe Out Nematode Worms

These parasitic little worms can wreak havoc in the garden, creating ugly-looking knots at the roots of many outdoor plants. Sugar can help wipe out those worms. Sprinkling five pounds of sugar on every 250 square feet of soil should do the trick, although it has been reported to impact the soil life.

11. Say Goodbye to Roaches

There's no need to spray chemicals around your home if you see a nasty roach. Mix together equal parts of sugar and baking powder, and sprinkle it where you suspect the roaches to live. They will be attracted by the sugar, but be killed by the baking powder (it's an explosive combination with the acid in their stomachs). And it's all completely safe. (See also: How to Get Rid of Roaches)

12. Win a Bet

This one's fun. It was a trick used in pubs in England, and most likely over here, but it's not as easy to do in bars since smoking was outlawed. You place a sugar cube in an ashtray and challenge someone to set it on fire using a match. They won't be able to do it. When they finally give up, rub the sugar cube in the cigarette ash, and then set it alight. The ash acts as a catalyst, making the sugar burn with a blue flame.

13. Stop Hiccups!

Personally, holding my breath for as long as I can and then breathing out slowly works for me. But that's not everyone's cup of tea. Professor Andre Dubois says that a teaspoon of sugar, swallowed dry, will do the trick. Apparently, the sugar modifies the nerve muscles that are making the diaphragm contract.

14. Hair Removal. Ouch.

Before the days of salons and waxing, Egypt's Cleopatra had a way to remove hair that was foolproof. The recipe, and the technique, is outlined completely here. The basic premise of "body sugaring" is creating a sticky paste using boiled sugar, and applying it to strips of fabric; then, applying that to your hairy legs, arms or chest, and ripping it off! Yeah…right now, I'm glad I don't have to do any of that!

Do you have a great use for sugar that is not listed here? Let us know.

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