Introduction: Unusual Uses for Rice

Picture of Unusual Uses for Rice

Rice is one of my all time favorite foods. I eat it with everything. If I can find an excuse to add rice to something I will. :D

But did you know that you can also use rice for all sorts of things around the house, too? Keep on reading to find out a few of my favorite unusual uses for rice.

Most of these unusual uses work best with plain white rice, but some can work with other varieties too. Though I suggest white rice since it's so cheap!

Step 1: Save Wet Electronics

Picture of Save Wet Electronics

Probably one of the most classic uses for rice! If you've ever dropped your phone in water you're probably tried this trick. :D

If you can turn the item off, do so. Dry the exterior of the item as best you can. If you can open it up and dry out the inside, that's a great idea too! For phones it's best to remove the battery and SIM card, too.

Place it in a ziploc bag or a container of rice and leave it for 24+ hours.

Check out this instructable for more thorough instructions! I have saved several items this way. (Yes, I am ridiculously clumsy.)

Step 2: DIY Heating Pads

Picture of DIY Heating Pads

Another one of my favorite uses! Perfect for sprains and cramps and or even just a really chilly day. I always mess my neck up with too much computer work and embroidery, so I've made a long skinny one to go around the back of my neck. :)

You can either sew up your own heating pad or make one by filling a sock with rice. Then just pop in it the microwave for 30 seconds to a minute and enjoy!

To find out how to sew your own check out this microwave heating pad by Danger is my middle name.

For a no-sew sock version, check out carleyy's homemade heating pad.

Step 3: Keep Hand Tools From Rusting

Picture of Keep Hand Tools From Rusting

This is really useful in humid areas! Back home in Kentucky this is done all the time - I've seen it in almost every workshop I've been in. If you have older hand tools that are susceptible to rusting, place them in a can of rice. (Sawdust can work too!)

This works especially well for pliers, screwdrivers and hammers. :D

It also keeps your tools within easy reach. Fancy.

Step 4: Check to See If Your Oil Is Hot Enough Before Frying

Picture of Check to See If Your Oil Is Hot Enough Before Frying

If you've ever been unsure about the temperature of your oil but you don't have a thermometer handy, rice is a good indicator. If you drop a couple grains of rice into your oil and they sink, it's not hot enough.

If the grains of rice pop back up immediately and begins to bubble, the oil is hot enough - normally around 350-360 F.

I say a couple because not all grains of rice will pop and float!

When I was doing this I just threw a ton of rice in there - puffed rice is delicious. DELICIOUS. So maybe just do that instead of frying something else. :D

Step 5: Clean Your Coffee or Spice Grinder

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One of my favorite uses! I think rice works much better than bread.

Check out this instructable for a full tutorial and other helpful coffee grinder cleaning tips!

Step 6: Clean Containers With Small Openings

Picture of Clean Containers With Small Openings

If you don't have a bottle brush around, rice is a great substitute.

Add a small amount of rice (perhaps a tablespoon?) into the container with a couple drops of soap. Add in some hot water and swish the rice around.

I clean my teapot like this all the time! I just put my thumb over the spout and hold the lid on while swishing the rice around. :)

Step 7: Weight for Blind Baking

Picture of Weight for Blind Baking

Blind baking is probably the way I use rice the most often. (Well, besides stuffing my face. I love rice.)

Both rice and beans and great blind baking weights.

To blind bake pastry, form the pastry in the tart or pie pan and then place a piece of parchment over the pastry. Pour in enough rice so that the pastry is completely filled.

Bake the pastry for half the required time and then take it out to check. If the pastry has gone lightly golden brown around the edges (like the photo above), you'll know it has set and won't go sliding down the side of the pan.

Use the parchment to transfer the rice from the crust into a container for later use. Once you've "baked" the rice, you can't use it to cook later, so I keep mine in a gallon mason jar separate from my eating rice. :)

Place the crust back in the oven to finish baking, and viola - perfectly blind baked pastry!

Step 8: Makeshift Knife Rack

Picture of Makeshift Knife Rack

I can't say how well this works as a permanent knife rack - but it's fantastic if you're just setting up your kitchen or if you just moved and find yourself without one.

Find a tall wide mouth container and pour in enough rice so the blades will be mostly covered.

The one caveat here is to be careful when putting the knives into the rice - there's not much to stop them colliding with the bottom of the container - so you can dull the tips if you're not careful.

Looks pretty awesome, too.

Step 9: Slow Release Air Freshener

Picture of Slow Release Air Freshener

This is perfect for closets or bathrooms - any small space where you want a little fragrance! This air freshener isn't strong enough for any large rooms, though. Tried it in the bedroom and it wasn't noticeable, but in a small bathroom it is.

Find a small glass container to put the rice in - I normally use between 1/4 and 1/2 cup. Add 10-20 drops of essential oils and mix well.

Place it where you want for a subtle and long lasting air freshener - just shake the container whenever you feel the smell is dying down - that will refresh it. :D

Just be careful to put these air fresheners high - out of small hands and away from pets!


HelloPresons (author)2017-11-15

Wow!! This really does help.

Ferntoe (author)2017-08-13

Wow! I knew the electric rice save tq., but you have quite a few new ideas. Especially like the blind rice tq.! And, you've taken the mystery out of how to do an ice/hot pack idea. Thank you!

BasmaAuday (author)2017-08-07

This is really great .Thank you for this good Instructable




: D

AzureOzma (author)2017-07-30

I found a bag of white rice in the freezer and since I now only eat brown rice these ideas are great! I hate to throw away food even the "bad" kind. Thank you, now I have practical uses for the rice that are better than eating it.

george57 (author)AzureOzma2017-08-02

Why would you keep raw/uncooked rice in a freezer? And if it is cooked rice in your freezer ... well all of the uses shown use raw/un-cooked rice.

AzureOzma (author)george572017-08-02

Hi George 57 - If you've ever had meal moths you would know why. After spending a small fortune to replace all my grains because of one bag of infected rice, I now put all my grains in the freezer.

aloh (author)AzureOzma2017-08-03

put dried chilis in the rice. will keep away the bugs.

george57 (author)AzureOzma2017-08-02

I reckon an airtight container is cheaper to run than a freezer. ;-)

(I keep most dry goods in tins or plastic airtight containers. There's not enough room in my freezer for all the rice, flour, and assorted other grains.)

FlorinJ (author)2015-09-20

While I do like many of the ideas described above, I had an initial reaction similar to others, who see rice as food, and are a bit uneasy with using it for other purposes. Therefore, I tried to come up with a list of alternatives that don't use food for each use described above:

1. Save the electronics can also work with sawdust. Probably even better, since softwood sawdust is more porous and finer grained than rice. True, sawdust can be very fine, and get into places where you wouldn't want it, but you can sieve it, and only use the coarse part.

2. Heating pads work great with salt. You just have to get the coarse grained variety so it doesn't trickle through the socket/pad - or put it into a plastic bag first, and only then into a sock. Salt has also a higher caloric capacity than rice, so the pad will probably stay hot for longer.

3. Keeping hand tools from rusting: again, sawdust - and make sure you change it from time to time, or else it will eventually become so damp it will actually promote rust instead of preventing it.

4. In order to check whether the oil in the pan is hot enough, use a wooden spoon - a dry one, mind you. Put it into the pan. If small bubbles start to develop around the spoon, the oil is hot enough for cooking.

5. I don't know about others, but I clean my coffee grinder (which I use mainly for spices) using paper. I tear a paper towel into pieces, put a few of them into the grinder, let it run for a couple of seconds, and repeat the process a few times - usually 2-3 cycles are ebough. Then I wipe the inside of the grinder (after having plugged it out of the power socket) with one or two more paper towels, to make all the tiny paper shreds go away.

6. Cleaning the insides of small containers works better with ashes. Ash mixed with water is also caustic, chemically aiding in the removal of stain.

7. I have a bowl of small stones I keep in the kitchen for blind baking. I'd clean and microwave some cherry kernels, rather than use rice for this, if I didn't have my stones.

8. I do prefer a magnetic strip, but I also like the makeshift knife rack. However, I'm not entirely sure that repeatedly sticking the knives into the rice won't significantly contribute to faster dulling, and I think spent and dried coffee grounds could work equally well - and they're softer, so dulling would probably be less of a concern.

9. Sawdust works great for the slow release air freshener - so much so that there are commercial products using it precisely for this purpose.

goldenskyhook (author)FlorinJ2017-07-30

Having a hard time understanding why rice is a problem, but salt (food,) sawdust (trees - precious natural resource,) or paper (see sawdust) are ok? Of these items, rice is probably the easiest on our planetary resources,and can be reused hundreds of times.

FlorinJ (author)goldenskyhook2017-07-30

Rice is food. I was brought up to not use food for non-food purposes, at least not in large quantities.

For most of the uses I described, I know first hand that they perform better than rice.

Plus, about salt and sawdust. At least around where I live salt is abundant and cheap - we literally have a mountain of it, and that isn't even the biggest salt reserve around here. Sawdust is a byproduct, a problem most woodworking shops need to deal with, not a waste of resources perfectly usable in other ways. Sawdust is also renewable - all you have to do is let another tree grow.

And another plus: you probably can't reuse rice hundreds of times. It will catch mold, once it has absorbed enough humidity. Even if it doesn't catch mold, once food moths discover that you keep rice in an openly accessible location, you'll spend years trying to get rid of them, unless you immediately throw that rice out.

ggadget (author)FlorinJ2017-07-30

I think you've been watching too many horror films. Rice is safer than wood and is more abundant than we know what to do with. Its called improvisation or Macgivering....a very good idea.
Besides it's food, so what. There is plenty of it. We just toss out the leftovers anyway.

FlorinJ (author)ggadget2017-07-30

I spent most of the summers of my childhood either in the countryside or high up in the mountains. In traditional homesteads, leftovers went to the pigs and hens, if there were any leftovers at all (dogs gobbled them up first, usually). High up in the mountains chances are high that spreading leftovers around will attract unwanted visitors to your camping place. Hence, I don't like wasting leftovers.

I tried most of the things I described above myself, and can tell for sure that at least for most of them rice does not at all work better than sawdust. Or salt, or spent coffee grounds, depending on the specific use. Also, most sawdust is absolutely safe. I haven't heard of anybody getting poisoned from the use of wooden cutting boards or wooden spoons.

There is plenty of food on the shelves of Western stores. Still, millions of people worldwide starve, tens of thousands of small children dying of hunger each day - (FYI, that's not a horror movie, it's horror reality, only, it's easy enough to ignore if you have plenty of food on your table.) Which is why I try not to waste food.

And it's spelled mcgyvering.

ggadget (author)FlorinJ2017-08-01

Those who starve are not my problem. So what! I'll use my food however I so please and I encourage everyone to do the same. Although thank you for correcting my misspelling. There isn't an excuse for improper spelling. That includes myself.

FlorinJ (author)ggadget2017-08-01

Those who starve are no more your problem than global climate change is. As technology evolves, our planet sort of becomes smaller - it's more connected from more than just one point of view. Social or economical or environmental problems across the world affect your life too - here's an example: That makes hunger in Africa your problem too. For one, hunger and lack of education is fueling radical Islamic terrorist propaganda. 9/11 wasn't your problem either, right?

But that's already way off topic.

kruth1 (author)FlorinJ2017-07-31

No, again. The show is/was called MacGyver and the term is MacgGyvering!

kruth1 (author)FlorinJ2017-07-31

You can easily ruin electronics by using sawdust! NEVER put your phone in that!

Also, sawdust should only be used in your home if you are ABSOLUTELY certain it's from untreated wood. (FYI--sawduct will ALSO mold or attract pests if left in the open!)

FYI--Salt IS food!

I've had a container of rice for these uses for well over a year now--hasn't gotten moldy or attracted pests yet!

FlorinJ (author)kruth12017-07-31

Salt is as much food as sodium bicarbonate, sodium nitrate, sodium glutamate (found naturally in large quantities in tomatoes and matured cheeses) or sodium benzoate (used as a preservative, but also produced naturally in the body when digesting cinnamon) are.

Sawdust is bad for fine mechanism. It does not ruin electronics. Plus, it depends on the graininess. You'll have a hard time cleaning very fine sawdust that has gotten into your phone. But coarser grain sawdust, such as thickness planer shavings, are safe.

Rice will last for years, if kept dry. Insects can also not infest food kept in closed containers.

ggadget (author)FlorinJ2017-07-30

Rice works better than sawdust and isn't as dirty or as unsightly.
Besides, rice is awesome.
As a bonus use, it can be used to throw as a celebration at weddings.

Kevanf1 (author)ggadget2017-07-30

I would be wary of using sawdust in some of these cases. Most of the time rice is actually a lot cleaner than sawdust unless you are 100% sure of where the 'dust' came from. I would say that 99% of commercial sawdust comes from wood that has had some form of chemical treatment to combat fungal infection in the timber. I hear what you say about not using foodstuffs for alternative things and do applaud this approach. Sometimes though there may not be a viable alternative..

FlorinJ (author)Kevanf12017-07-31

Most wood cut into planks or boards at timber yards, or used for furniture by artisan carpenter shops is not treated in any way. Some exotic wood species are irritating when their sawdust is inhaled. Few are right-out toxic. Sawdust sold for cat litter or bird cages is also not treated in any way, just pressed.

xenophyla49 (author)FlorinJ2017-07-31

Using white rice isn't wasteful ~ it's had all its nutrition removed in the process of making it white. Go ahead and use it for these projects and eat brown rice for your health. ;-)

VictoriousVixen (author)FlorinJ2016-09-16

These are *great*, and you write perfectly with great grammar. You should think of one more, and then make an Instructable called "10 (or Ten) Fantastic Household Hacks". Take some pictures of each of them as well. It would be so useful, and I know a lot of people would appreciate them. But if not, thank you for posting them here. I've copied all of the great ones from this page, and the comments, into a text file I save with things like this. But if you do make one, would you send me the link, please? :)

FlorinJ (author)VictoriousVixen2016-09-16

I'm a programmer. One of he greatest virtues of a programmer is laziness ... you draw the conclusion. (Why laziness: a lazy but smart person does things so he does not need to do them twice.)

I'm completely ceding any intellectual property rights on these ideas to anybody willing to transform them into an ible.

ggadget (author)FlorinJ2017-07-30

Ah ok....I get it. You were just trolling. Lol.

calyad (author)2017-07-31

Great ideas. I like the blind baking idea, as you can use the rice later. Also, twice-cooked starch is a great gut stabilizer, which is why it is a great partner to spicy food.

RobTurrentine (author)2015-09-20

Please don't call yourself clumsy. I went to a seminar once where the presenter made the point that your subconscious tries to help you accomplish the things you say. The example he used was saying "I'm not good with names." By saying that you talk yourself into being bad at remembering names. I'm a firm believer in the power of positive thinking (and talking).

RobinT6 (author)RobTurrentine2015-09-21

that's a great ethic to live by but calling clumsiness a more positive word won't help the bruises I get from bumping into things!

goldenskyhook (author)RobinT62017-07-31

True,since those occurred in the past. If you take the effort to reprogram your subconscious, it actually COULD help in NOT getting future bruises. contrary to popular belief, your past needn't predict your future. you could just choose how coordinated you are,and your body will comply.

What seminar? sounds a bit like PSI seminars.

elenass (author)2017-07-30

Well, I read through ALL the comments, thinking my use wouldn't be in there, but didn't want to duplicate one that was... here's a really odd one: uncooked rice is what we musicians use to clean the INSIDE of violins! Obviously, they are hollow and hard to get to the inside. So every few YEARS, I take about a 1/4 cup of plain uncooked rice, pour it into the f-holes (those are the fancy carved holes in the top of the instrument) and gently shake it back and forth. The rice is gritty enough to rub the dust off the bottom of the violin, and if it's been forever since it was cleaned, you can get a pretty big dust-ball in there. If it's just a little dusty, then the dust tends to stick to the grains of rice. Anyway, keep it moving around by turning it/ shaking it for 5 minutes or so and then empty the violin (or viola) by turning it over and letting the rice come out of the f-holes. It's good to do that last part over a towel or something to catch the grains. If a dust-ball was created, you need to use tweezers to catch it and pull it out. So now you know how it's done! : )

ggadget (author)2017-07-30

What is blind baking? I've never heard of that?

Kevanf1 (author)ggadget2017-07-30

It's a method of producing a flat dish of pastry that doesn't rise in the middle. You roll the pastry out in the tin as normal, maybe a little thinner than normal on the bottom. Then fill over the pastry base with cooking parchment or grease proof paper. Next fill the are up to the rim of the pie dish with something weighty. Traditionally small ceramic beads have been used for this called 'baking beans'. The weight of the beans stops the pastry from rising on the bottom. Once it's cooked through you can then go on to add a filling and cook it further safe in the knowledge that the pastry bottom will not now rise and push the filling all over the sides.

Zaacharia (author)2017-07-30

Everyone calls those things 'grinders' - they are choppers (sorry, personal gripe); rice can also be used to 'ice' body parts. If you make a long tube of rice and freeze it, it will sooth those carpal wrists. When I buy big bags of rice, I store a useful amount in a container that will fit into the freezer - no matter how well stored rice is, freezing will kill the unwanted 'protein' that you can rinse out just before you cook your rice. I hope I did not just start a rinse/do-not-rinse flame war.

jauncourt (author)2015-09-21

Yes, it does. That is the principle behind using it to keep salt from clumping and also to provide moist heat via rice bag heat packs. However, it isn't as efficient at drying things out as, say, silica gel crystals, which may be what has you confused.

Zaacharia (author)jauncourt2017-07-30

The important thing that ride does is: stops you from trying to turn it on and use it to see if it is okay. Turning on a wet electronic device destroys it; putting it in rice keeps you away from it long enough to dry.

Sorry but jbrune is actually right here. I am a mobile phone technician and to those who think that rice 'saves the day,' it's actually a coincidence. The rice will release oils that can further damage the phone. The best thing to do is remove the battery (if you can) and take it in to a repair centre where they use chemicals to draw out the moisture in the circuit board

drying cell phone is easy with normal wattage florescent tubes. The heat is low enough not to damage, and high enough to dry they out. Same for watches for those who still wear one.

Big Jake

My phone was older so I felt the rice trick was fine and had no problems with it now for 6 months.

joyce.clemons (author)jauncourt2015-09-23

I dropped my cell phone in the toilet and used rice ( a friend told me later that day) and it worked but I left it in two days.

jpjacob (author)joyce.clemons2015-09-24

I hope you didn't cook the rice after.

MichaelAtOz (author)2017-07-30

OK, now I want to see Unusual uses for cooked rice ;)

ggadget (author)2017-07-30

These are all wonderful ideas. Thank you. I have one to add: I hear it can be used as a celebration to throw at weddings.

ronald.ferreira.39 (author)2017-07-30

id just use a blow dryer for watered phones.

afcurlin (author)2017-07-30

I left my iPhone outside where it got rained on, SNOWED on, Seriously! and then covered in leaves. When I found it I put it in a bag of rice and it is still working!

Jimichan (author)2017-07-30

I was always told that each grain of rice is like a farmer's tear, so every grain should be eaten.

SueJensen (author)2017-07-30

I have a big bag of rice in my art studio and use it to weigh down collage paintings so they'll dry smoothly. I guess it can be part of our 'earthquake kit' too!

MadeByGloria (author)2017-07-30

If you use rice and water to wash bottles or teapots, etc., please don't pour it down the drain.

doo da do (author)2017-07-30

For the pan I use a few drops of water, the knife holder is great idea

About This Instructable




Bio: I work at instructables by day, and turn into a stitch witch by night. follow me on instagram @makingjiggy to see what i'm working ... More »
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