Introduction: 101+ Life Hacks Using Chopsticks
Think chopsticks are just for Eastern countries? THINK AGAIN :)
Here are 101+ amazing (and unusual) things you can do with chopsticks in the kitchen, dining room, shop/garage, "man cave," office, home library, garden, and bathroom. Also, for babies, brain development and brain boosting, arts and crafts, music and instruments, toys, pets, games, sports, home decor, weight loss, and health...
WHY EVERYONE SHOULD OWN A PAIR (or 2) OF CHOPSTICKS!
And if you have another hack I missed on this list, please let me know in the comments below :)
Step 1: Chopsticks in the Kitchen & Dining Room
If you want to take up less space in your kitchen for utensil storage, buy some chopsticks!
In addition, when used for eating, chopsticks do not go as far into your mouth as metal utensils, so they are gentler and you don't risk choking on them or getting hurt by them. Plus, you'll never get that annoying "screech" when they scrape ceramic dishes (like you get with metal eating utensils). Not to mention, they're WAY easier to clean, too.
Here are more ways to use chopsticks that show just how versatile they are...
- Stir milk and sugar into your tall thermos full of coffee with ease. In addition, stir ANY drink with chopsticks.
- Cooking pasta? Use chopsticks to easily pluck out of the boiling pot a piece of pasta for tasting.
- Whisk and mix batters and doughs when baking.
- Level off all your flours and powders when cooking and baking.
- When you've finished a meal, use the blunt end of your chopsticks to pack the leftovers away in containers.
- Tea time? Add just the right amount of raw honey to your tea.
- Use chopsticks to get out the very last goodies from the bottom of your blender (around the blade).
- Use a chopstick with a sponge at the end to clean tall mason jars, baby bottles, and anything you can't get your hand into.
- Make a chopstick fruit bowl.
- Make a sushi rolling mat.
- Don't you just hate when your toaster hijacks your toast? Or how about when you have to clean all the big, stuck chunks of toast out of the bottom (you know, the ones NOT conveniently in the little tray)..Chopsticks to the rescue for both!
- When eating meat from the grill, chopsticks don't stab the meat (like forks do), therefore the meat retains its precious juices.
- Need to know when your oil is ready for frying? Simply take the blunt end of a disposable chopstick and stick it perpendicular into the bottom of your pan of oil. If the oil is ready, it will bubble around the base of the chopstick.
- Plate delicate foods with ease.
- Scrape out the last bits of food and rice from bowls (that you can't get to with a fork).
- When in need of a quick hot pad (where'd that go!?), gather a few chopsticks in a row and set your hot pans and baking dishes right down on them!
- Makeshift one chopstick (or multiple chopsticks) into a paper towel holder (either a wall-mounted one, or a stand-alone one where the chopsticks are pushed into a styrofoam base or glued to a wooden base).
- While cooking, you can also use your chopsticks to stir with.
- Use disposable chopsticks in place of lollipop and Popsicle sticks.
- Dry plastic baggies on them in your dish drainer.
- Stand them upright in your dish drainer to space out standing plates.
- Also use them to stack plates when you run out of dish drainer space. Simply put a few in-between each plate as you continue stacking them.
- Toast marshmallows, and use them for shish kabobs or skewers.
- Easily pit cherries and olives with them.
- Turn over meat or tofu when grilling.
- Reach a main dish that's being shared with ease.
- Put a chopstick over a boiling water pot to stop the water from overflowing.
- Use chopsticks to make placemats for your dining room table or eat-in nook.
- Turn over pancakes in intricately detailed pancake pans. I always hated using my little snowflake pancake pan because I couldn't turn the pancakes over to cook the other side. Chopsticks are a dream for this!
- Divide your freezer bags into individual portions with a chopstick. Place the food in the freezer bag and seal. Then use your chopstick horizontally and vertically to section out individual portions.
- Need to microwave some red soup but don't want to clean up the mess it will make? EXPLOSION!! Simply place a chopstick in it and it will keep the liquid from exploding :)
- Use a chopstick to help pour liquid from a big spout. It works just like a funnel to direct the liquid into your desired location.
- Don't you just hate it when your salt or pepper shaker funnel gets clogged? Use a chopstick to unclog it!
- I love using chopsticks to pluck out olives, pickled beets, pickles, maraschino cherries, and pickled ginger from jars. No mess, and no more dripping or stained fingers!
- From member denverintranslation: "to stir the bloom in our French press coffee maker. No risk of breaking the glass like with a metal utensil."
- From member silkenhons: "If you live in a place with a common kitchen, not in Asia, and you want to limit the chance of someone using your utensils, get chopsticks and a new dog bowl. Most people cannot use the chopsticks and the social psychology of using a dog bowl for food keeps most away from your stuff."
- From member ata1anta: "use pointy (Japanese-style) ones to make a pot scrubber."
- From member tomasina: "[put a cut chopstick into a straw to keep] nosy flying things out of [your] drink. [Also, when you are done using your chopsticks as] coffee stir-ers, [they turn a beautiful dark color and then you can] use [a] wood burning tool & make a design on them & [put a] person's initials [on them] for a gift."
Step 2: Chopsticks in the Shop & Man Cave
Those "dainty, girly, little sticks" can actually be used for the "gruffed-up, manly man?" Hahaha...yes!
- Need to fill in stripped screw holes, or leftover nail holes in the drywall with Spackle? Use chopsticks.
- That old garage or basement window no longer staying open? Prop it open with a chopstick.
- Use chopsticks to pick up little pieces (including screws, nails, nuts, washers, bolts) from a big pile or when they fall down in a tricky spot.
- Use chopsticks to grab things that fall behind a workbench, shelves, etc. They act like an extension of your fingers.
- Help unclog your funnels from gook and gunk.
- Clean out hard-to-reach places anywhere in your shop including in: car engines, your tools, computers (like fan cleaning), gadgets, etc. Just put a cloth on the end of the chopstick! Save your hands from the grime or tedious jobs.
- In addition, easily clean your gaming controllers and systems, as well as electronic devices of all kinds, with chopsticks.
- Level out your furniture with chopsticks.
- Did you soak your boots or gloves while working? Hang them to dry on a chopstick (or a bundle of chopsticks tied together) sitting in something like a glass, etc.
- Use a disposable chopstick in place of dowel rods.
- Stir paint with chopsticks.
- Can't find your needle-nose pliers? Try using beginner's chopsticks.
- Kindle a fire with disposable chopsticks.
- Place chopsticks in-between loft frames or boards (as spacers) when doing painting projects.
- Clean out the dirt and grime off the bottom of your work boots/shoes
- Clean up the edges of mastic/caulk when grouting tiles or other projects.
- Use a little bundle of disposable chopsticks to make a door jam to keep that old garage or basement door open for venting or moving your heavy loads. You can also cut a chopstick down (keeping the blunt side--especially works with the big, square-head disposable chopsticks) and super gluing it (blunt side out) to the wall for a makeshift door stop. No more re-fixing that hole in the wall over and over and over :)
- You can even use disposable, used chopsticks to build furniture with! (Impressive!) See a transforming chair-to-couch that's made out of 8,000 chopsticks here...keep clicking on the picture to see it in action or click the tiny < >arrows by the "1/38" instead: http://www.yuyavsdesign.com/SOFA_XXXX.html
- From member LVB: "Another thing that I use chopsticks for: once you open a can of oil-based paint, polyurethane, etc., leave a chopstick in before re-sealing it after use. When you go back to re-use it, even months later, the hardened stuff on top is easily removed and you can stir the remainder. You may need to break off part of the chopstick so that the lid can fit on the can."
Number eighteen reminds me of that part in the movie, Six Days Seven Nights:
Robin: Aren't you one of those guys?
Quinn: What guys?
Robin: Those guy guys, you know, those guys with skills.
Robin: Yeah. You send them into the wilderness with a pocket knife and a Q-tip and they build you a shopping mall. You can't do that?
HAHAHA! Now you can say you can do that! ;)
Step 3: Chopsticks in the Office and Home Library
Yes, chopsticks can be used basically EVERYWHERE in your house.
Here are some examples of how to use chopsticks in the office and home library:
- Clean your keyboard and computer speakers (or laptop) with ease.
- Keep your hands--and keyboard or touch screen!--grease-free (and Cheeto cheese-free) while working on your computer and eating.
- Use a chopstick for a bookmark.
- Stab a few chopsticks into a piece of styrofoam and now you have a convenient pencil, pen, marker, highlighter, etc holder.
- Use chopsticks to build an iPad and/or iPhone stand. Go here to see how it's done: http://macenstein.com/default/2010/06/the-gilligan...
- Keep cups off your nice desk by using chopsticks for coasters.
- Keep pencils from rolling away with a square-head chopstick.
- Pages of a book or magazine stuck together? Separate them quickly with a chopstick.
Step 4: Chopsticks in the Bathroom
Chopsticks in the bathroom? Yup! But don't worry, you're not using them as toilet paper--ouch!
Here are some ways chopsticks are ideal in the bathroom:
- Put your long hair up in a flash!
- Push back your cuticles with a chopstick.
- Make a chopstick comb.
- Make fashionable jewelry using chopsticks.
- Make a chopstick waste basket.
- Pick up used Q-tips or tissue paper that fell in an inconvenient spot (ie: on the floor behind the toilet).
- Scrape the inside edges of your nail polish bottles to get out every last drop.
- Use chopsticks to paint details on your nails.
- Get things out of the sink drain--before they fall down further and are lost!
- Put the pointy ends of chopsticks into styrofoam and keep them upright to hold all of your rings. If you take this and turn it sideways and mount it to the wall or inside of a cabinet, you can hang all your necklaces and bracelets on it.
- Or build a jewelry stand out of chopsticks.
- Use chopsticks to make a bathmat.
- Build a little "mat" with chopsticks. Use a few chopsticks to make "walls," and tie string/rope/ribbon to it. Hang this from your shower head or mount it to the wall to hold shampoos, conditioners, soaps, razors, etc.
- Dropped something important in the toilet? Use chopsticks instead of your hands to retrieve it. Keep chopsticks on hand or in your purse for if this happens at a public restroom! (My cell phone has dropped in the toilet before out of my back pocket into a public restroom toilet. NOT FUN!)
- Glue a bunch of chopsticks together so they make a flat "mat" without gaps. Store all of your pairs of earrings in each "valley" between chopsticks. Also store other small items here. Or use it to showcase pretty bathroom decor.
- Can't get the plug out of your bathtub's drain? Try wiggling the pointy end of a chopstick under it, or use the chopsticks like needle-nose pliers to pull it up.
- Just moved into your apartment and don't have a toilet paper holder? Makeshift a chopstick to either hold the toilet paper roll in the wall-mounted holder, or stand a bundle of them upright (either pushed into a styrofoam base, or glued down to a piece of wood) to hold toilet paper rolls on like a stand.
- Clean around the base of your toilet with chopsticks and a cleaning rag. (No need to touch it!)
- From member Dee5: "Use chopsticks to make nice patterns in soap batter, while making soap. With them it's possible to make really nice decorative designs! I have some bamboo chopsticks for that, either I wash them or throw them into the dishwasher. They seem to be [indestructible]..."
- From member terezi: "I use them to get the last bit out from small glass bottles of face serum (the expensive kind)."
- From member sheba92766: "I have always used a chopstick to mix thick hair dye & developer in the applicator bottle. You're not suppose to use metal bowls, whisks, etc. I rinse & reuse until it breaks or I misplace it."
Step 5: Chopsticks in the Garden
Even outside, chopsticks are handy everywhere!
- Use chopsticks as stakes for orchids and other small plants.
- Use chopsticks to label your garden.
- Use chopsticks to put care instructions in your potted plants.
- Make an eco-friendly bird feeder with chopsticks.
- Hang your garden gloves on chopsticks placed in a glass or clay garden pot for ease of access.
- Hang garden tools on a DIY wall-mounted rack where each "hook" is a bundle of tied-together or glued-together disposable chopsticks. This rack is also handy for hanging your garden boots or flip flops, or for hanging your watering cans. Lastly, you can hang your water hose on it, too! SO VERSATILE! (Just use more chopsticks per bundle for making each "hook" stronger.)
- Make stepping "stones" by gluing together a bunch of chopsticks.
- From member ata1anta: "Use them with yarn to make a planting grid. Or for anything that you need to take care of with a grid, like laying pavers."
Step 6: Babies, Decor, Crafts, Toys, Pets, Games/Sports, & Music
If you want to visualize the many different things listed here (since I couldn't make all of them), just Google them! ;)
This list could truly be endless, as the sky's the limit for how many different projects you could use disposable chopsticks for. But, here are some ideas to get you started...
- Teething sticks for babies. An idea I have is to use a BPA-free plastic sheet, pull the four corners in to make a money bag-like shape and fill this with water (while continuing to keep a firm grip on the four corners). Insert one end of the chopstick into the water filled "bag" and seal the "bag's" four corners to the chopstick...gluing and wrapping with rubber bands or ties (so no water comes out). Freeze this and let your little one have at it. You can also cover the other side in the same way once the first side is frozen so it's double-sided (and can't hurt baby).
- Make a lampshade from chopsticks.
- Make a sunburst mirror or a retro clock.
- Make a pendant lamp.
- Make a wooden valance (maybe over the kitchen window?)
- Make a tripod table lamp.
- Make baskets for blankets and/or magazines.
- You can take a lot of chopsticks and make a bamboo rug.
- Make a decorative tray for your coffee table out of glued together chopsticks. Or use the "tray" on the floor (by the front door) to hold guest shoes when they come in.
- Make an ottoman, side table, etc from chopsticks.
- From member stumpster: "I bought a ceiling two-armed light fixture, that I wanted to mount on the wall, but, when I did, the arms drooped too much, and I was unable to tighten them enough to keep them straight... one long chopstick, wedged into the arms, and it's been perfect for 4 years now!"
ARTS & CRAFTS
- Use chopsticks in place of knitting needles.
- Make "sparklers" from disposable chopsticks (for the Fourth of July). Just light 'em up!
- Unclog glue and paint tips.
- Make picture frames or frame a mirror.
- Build chopsticks into different, unique structures and display them throughout the house, or in the display cabinets in your kitchen/dining room.
- Use chopsticks dipped in paint to splatter on a canvas--or use them in place of traditional paintbrushes--for a totally original piece of art.
- Glue chopsticks onto your painting in strategic locations to give your art a 3D effect. For example, if you paint a picture of a peacock, glue beautifully painted (or plain) chopsticks on for the feather lines (with the blue and green round "eyes" at the ends) and/or for the legs to add 3D charm.
- Carve a skeleton key out of a chopstick (on the thicker end). Maybe make a set of them to play with, for a costume, or for home decor. :)
- From member Rosemaryand: "I use them to turn out the corners on my sewing projects, makes beautiful crisp points and less risk of pushing through your fabric like scissors or other pointy objects."
- Make a rubber band gun or crossbow.
- Make a doll house or Barbie dream house.
- From member zeroi: "My daughter on the [other] hand, loves them for playing with, especially Play-doh! Their possibilities are truly endless!"
- Use for cat toys. Cats LOVE to play with and chew on chopsticks! Who knew?
- In addition to giving your cats plain chopsticks to play with, add little play mice or "birds" tied/glued on to the end of a chopstick to give your cats a toy to chase and hunt.
- Make a cat scratcher with disposable chopsticks.
- Use disposable bamboo chopsticks for longer-life dog chews.
- Play fetch with your dog with bamboo chopsticks.
- Make a "treadmill" for your mouse, hamster, gerbil, etc using bundles of chopsticks glued together as the rotating spindles.
- Grind up disposable bamboo chopsticks for pet bedding.
GAMES & SPORTS
- Use chopsticks to play a "Don't Drop the Egg" contest.
- Play pick-up-sticks, "Jenga," or "KerPlunk" with chopsticks.
- Use chopsticks to make a football holder/tee (similar to the ipad stand in the home office step).
- Use a chopstick cut in half and shoved into the ground as a golf tee. Just carve a little indent into the top of a square-headed chopstick.
- From member stumpster: "I also use the disposable bamboo sticks for 3/16" dowels, when I build kayak frames- never rot."
- Use a chopstick with a cleaning cloth over the end to clean inside your flute.
- Chopsticks = Drumsticks for little ones. Just glue a soft fabric (with a little cushion filling) over the ends so it won't poke your child in the eye.
- Cut little notches into the top of a square-headed chopstick to hold your guitar picks in. OR make a larger notch to put your reed in (ie: for your clarinet or oboe). Then stick the pointy end of the chopstick into a piece of styrofoam (or cut and glue it to a piece of wood) for a convenient stand.
- Make a wall-mounted rack (similar to the hack in the bathroom step) except hang your bow on it for your violin, viola, or cello.
- Keep your music book open by placing a chopstick horizontally in front of your book (across the middle) on the music stand. Or rest it vertically over your sheet music to keep it from floating away or falling.
- If you're backpacking or camping, you can fashion a couple of chopsticks (from sticks) easier and faster than a fork or spoon.
- Make a DIY scented oil diffuser.
- Dust up high on ceiling fans with chopsticks and a duster (gives you that extra hand's length to reach it). Or clean anywhere that's out of reach or too gross to touch.
- Use chopsticks for costumes. Either to add stability to wiggly areas that should be stiff, or to add details to your costume (like if making an Edward Scissor Hands costume, etc).
Step 7: Chopsticks for Weight Loss & Health
I LOVE chopsticks because they really do help with eating the proper amounts of food. We only eat until we're truly full, instead of gobbling down a ton of food with the shovels--I mean fork and spoon--and knife we usually use. And, as a side note, they've personally helped me lose unhealthy weight and maintain a healthy weight!
Here are other ways chopsticks help with weight loss/management:
- Taking smaller bites. Chopsticks help us (OK, force us, lol) to take smaller bites.
- Eating deliberately. Every bite with chopsticks is a deliberate choice we make that uses hand-eye-coordination and more brain power to perform. As opposed to using forks and spoons which we do second-naturedly.
- Resting in-between bites. Using chopsticks has an amazing way of helping us slow down, rest in-between bites, and thoroughly take the time to actually enjoy our food.
- Giving your stomach time to digest. The time it takes to eat the meal, helps give our stomachs time to tell our brains that they're full, and thus we eat the proper amounts.
- Making better food choices. For the most part, chopsticks help us make better food choices because the traditional foods most people like (that may be greasy or high in fat/cholesterol) can't really be eaten with chopsticks. Therefore, we find ourselves eating better foods like salads, stews, whole-grain pasta dishes, stir-fries, nuts, fruit, sticky rice, home-cooked popcorn, sliced meats and fish, etc.
- Having table manners. Chopsticks are a great way to develop or practice table manners (for adults and kids alike). After eating a meal with chopsticks, people are less likely to have food all over their faces, hands, or the table, and they've eaten at a proper pace so it was more pleasant for them and the people around them. Etc.
- From member ata1anta: "The weight loss tip I heard was that if you already know how to use chopsticks in one hand, change to the other. It will help with manual dexterity and you'll be paying more attention while you eat slower (and people will be confused seeing you use your other hand) ;)"
Step 8: Chopsticks for Brain Development
(Picture Courtesy of: http://poster.4teachers.org/view/poster.php?poster...)
This one, for me, sits a little closer to home. Our youngest daughter struggles with a speech impediment. Though she's brilliant, and has been tested in every way possible for any possible nerve, neurological, mental, or physical issues, we still need anything and everything to help stimulate her brain as she learns to articulate her words.
Enter in CHOPSTICKS for the following reasons:
1. Using chopsticks helps improve children's fine motor skills.
2. Using chopsticks also helps improve hand-eye-coordination.
3. It builds new pathways in the brain by learning a new skill.
4. It involves over 30 joints and 50 muscles in the fingers, wrist, arm, and shoulder as well as thousands of nerves to accomplish.
5. A combination of these improvements will also help increase children's self-confidence and abilities in many areas.
Chopsticks are also beneficial for adult brains in the following ways:
"Studies show that engaging the concentrated areas of nerve cells in your fingertips directly stimulates your brain," says Maoshing Ni, Ph.D., author of "Second Spring: Dr. Mao's Hundreds of Natural Secrets for Women to Revitalize and Regenerate at Any Age." Truth is, any fingertip activity--using chopsticks, knitting, or even rolling a pen or pencil between your fingers--also helps your brain by boosting your circulation. And good circulation helps eliminate waste products that can prevent nutrients from reaching your brain." (emphasis mine) http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/09/09/memory.booste...
There are also suggestions in the medical world that doing activities (like using chopsticks) may help patients with Alzheimer's Disease or may help to prevent Alzheimer's and other related diseases.
Step 9: Final Notes & Saving the Planet
(Photo courtesy of NASA)
Have you seen the value of chopsticks yet? If so, go out and buy yourself a few (preferably reusable) nice pairs!
If you can't find "chopsticks," a quick and cheap substitute are disposable skewers (which are normally only $1.00, or very cheap, for a lot of them).
IMPORTANT CHOPSTICK ETIQUETTE:
When serving food that will be accompanied by chopsticks, it's very rude to serve it with the chopsticks standing straight up in the food. There are different beliefs and reasons for this, but here are just a few:
1. "Chopsticks should not be left standing vertically in a bowl of rice or other food. Any pair of stick-like objects pointed upward resembles the incense sticks that some Asians use as offerings to deceased family members; certain funerary rites designate offerings of food to the dead using standing chopsticks."
2. "[Standing chopsticks straight up in food] is an absolute no-no because it's the way a bowl of rice is offered to the spirit of a dead person, at their deathbed, or in front of their photograph on the household Buddhist altar."
3. "Sticking your chopsticks straight up in a bowl of noodles or rice is taboo in most every country in Asia -- it symbolizes either death/stabbing in China, and piercing one's soul in Japan."
For any reason that one might have...JUST DON'T DO IT! It is much more polite in mixed company to rest the chopsticks across the lip of the bowl/dish or set them off to the side on the table.
WHY YOU SHOULD BUY BAMBOO DISPOSABLE CHOPSTICKS (if you "must" dispose of them):
Bamboo is a clean, renewable source. "As the Japanese have discovered, bamboo is incredibly versatile and is reported to be stronger than many steel alloys and does not fall victim to termites. Bamboo’s strength and flexibility have been used in houses that have withstood a 9.0 magnitude earthquake. It’s the fastest growing plant in the world and can grow 1-to-4 inches in a day and regrows quickly after being cut down, making it the No. 1 renewable resource.
Since the plant’s health is improved by cutting, bamboo can be re-harvested every three years without any harmful effects on the environment....[A] bamboo plant [can] be harvested and regrown more than 150 times." (emphasis mine) http://www.climatecentral.org/blogs/image-of-the-d...
THE PROBLEM WITH OTHER CHOPSTICKS (Not made from bamboo): DID YOU KNOW: Entire forests are cleared to provide non-bamboo chopsticks. Consider this: "Each year, the equivalent of 3.8 million trees go into the manufacture of about 57 billion disposable pairs of chopsticks in China, according to statistics from China's national forest bureau. About 45% of disposable chopsticks are made from trees like cotton wood, birch, and spruce, while the remainder are made from bamboo. Half of the disposables are consumed within China. Of the other half, 77% is exported to Japan, 21% to South Korea, and 2 percent to the United States." http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/24/disposab...
THE BOTTOM LINE: Go with reusable chopsticks for everyday use, and use only bamboo chopsticks for disposable use (recycling disposable chopsticks into the many things we discussed here instead of throwing them away). Aid in the care of our planet--We only get ONE home on this Earth, let's take care of it! :)
**Additional resources used in this instructable:
My own ideas, input, and brain ;-P...As well as...