Introduction: 9 Unusual Uses for Aspirin
It's 6:30 AM and you feel a tightness in your chest. Antacids don't help. Your jaw is tightly set and your arm feels numb. Heart attack? Or is it an unreasonable response to a new zit? Either way, aspirin can help.
From heart attacks to zits, in the garden and the laundry room, aspirin has a ton of uses beyond relieving pain. Some of these I've tried, others I should try but haven't, and a few I hope to never try. You, the reader, are left to judge which is which.
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Step 1: Heart Attack Mitigation
If you're feeling a bit of a heart attack coming on, pop some aspirin and dial 911. (Or your local emergency number.)
The aspirin has an anti-clotting effect that inhibits platelets from doing their little plateletty jobs. You know, hanging out together in large groups, getting rowdy, and creating thromboses. This is perfect for those occasions when you're on the verge of death due to an unplanned cardiac episode.
According to the American Journal of Cardiology, chewing the aspirin has a more immediate effect than washing the pills down with a cool glass of water. So that's good to know. Especially if you're a man over 50 with less plaque on your teeth than in your arteries.
Step 2: Remove Sweat Stains
Sure, the collar of that undershirt looks fine, but the armpits are caked and yellow like you're developing uranium for a nascent nuclear weapons program. Gross. Apparently the aluminum salts in most antiperspirants mixes with sweat to create a mostly-waterproof stain. The salicylic acid in aspirin makes a nice little anti-yellowcake mixture that can eradicate those sweat stains.
Crush up enough pills and mix with water to create enough paste to cover the sweat stain of your choice. Let it sit for several minutes then rinse. Launder as usual. This treatment is good for any protein-based stain, so pull it out for those times when you get some of that nosebleed on your shirt or dribble egg yolk onto your pants due to over-over-easiness.
Note: pound for pound, this is an expensive method of removing sweat stains (compared to using lemon juice, enzymatic meat tenderizer, or white vinegar), but it's a good thing to bear in mind if you're surprised by a serious stain in a random hotel room that stocks aspirin, but not meat tenderizer, in the lobby gift shop.
Step 3: Restore Hair Color
Big swimmer? Blonde? If so, you know that chlorine can do a number on your hair. But a little aspirin can take care of that.
Dissolve 6-8 aspirin pills in water, then rub the solution into your hair. Let it sit for 10 minutes and rinse it out. The greenish effect should start to disappear after a couple of aspirin washes.
When I was in fifth grade, there was a girl in my class with hair so blonde and fine it looked like fiberoptic wire. She was a swimming fiend, so her hair was always just a touch too green in the summertime. In middle school, she acheived the Edenic self-consciousness of Eve and began to use aspirin to fix the greenness. She is now incredibly successful and one of 17* female engineers in the whole world. Aspirin helped her become a foxy materials engineer, imagine what it could do for you.
*I know that there are more. But there are still too many girls being discouraged from careers in science and math. The real number is probably in the low to mid 50s.
Step 4: Zap Zits and Punish Pimples
Salicylic acid. It's one of the topical applications used for acne treatment, and it just so happens to be a natural part of aspirin.
Crush up the pill and add some water to make a paste. Apply the aspirin paste to your pimple and wait for several minutes. Rinse off without rubbing too much, and the pimple should diminish in redness and size. Spot treatment for those "haven't showered since Friday" weekend camping trips where you want to look your best.
Possibly true fact: the taste of salicylic acid can discourage bears from gnawing on your face.
Step 5: Treat Bug Bites and Stings
Just like the acne treatment, a little dab of aspirin paste will do you when it comes to mosquitoes, flies, and the other stinging and biting bugs out there.
A great little camping piece of know-how: willow trees and their ilk contain the natural equivalent of Bayer. Some bark will have a similar effect to the paste described earlier. When I was a Boy Scout in Colorado, we used to strip small sections of bark off of aspen trees and treat the bug bites we brought upon ourselves by being fragrantly scrumptious.
Step 6: Organic Gardener's Dream
A crushed aspirin in water (one pill to one gallon) helps plants to fight infection and stay alive during traumatic plant experiences like transplanting, cutting, cloning, or zombie attacks. If your plants are dying in front of your eyes, it can be tempting to resort to extreme measures to rescue your little green friends with a water-soluble fertilizer. When stressed, however, plants can't really absorb all those delicious nitrates and phosphates. Dumping fertilizer on a dying plant is like giving a heart attack victim a multivitamin: not quite the ideal time for bioavailablility. Aspirin is the solution (pun!) for your mild flora emergency.
According to the exhaustive research I just performed on Wikipedia, salicylic acid can induce specific changes in root, stem, and leaf structure that create more robust plants. It can also help fruits and vegetables grow bigger and stronger. It will help your plants resist disease, insects, and unusually weak hailstorms.
Additionally, an aspirin solution will also help your cut flowers last longer in the vase so you can go nearly a full week before raking up the dead petals. Unless you're playing the "he loves me, he loves me not" game, in which case you should just count the petals in advance to determine your romantic status and let the aspirin keep the bouquet pretty.
Step 7: Treat Dandruff
Itchy flakiness got your shoulders looking like snowdrifts? If you wear a black American Apparel hoodie that looks a bit like a heather gray American Apparel hoodie, perhaps you should consider using aspirin in your daily head-washing regimen.
Crush up two aspirins into the normal amount of shampoo you use, then leave it in for several minutes. Don't do it with a dandruff-specific shampoo, but this is a great method of maintaining great-smelling hair without distributing enough fine white powder to cause an asbestos scare or DEA raid. If you're concerned about wasting water while you wait, shut off the water and just hang out for a minute while the aspirin does its job.
Step 8: Squeeze the Last Juice From a Car Battery
Electrolytes. They're not just in sports drinks and the athletes who drink them. They're also an important part of a car's battery. But sometimes your car's battery needs an extra shot of juice to crank out just a little more energy to get your car moving. Aspirin apparently makes a lovely electrolytic stimulant that'll get you out of a really serious pickle. Because if you're popping open your car battery, things are probably pretty serious and AAA isn't coming any time soon.
Pry off the cover of the battery with a screwdriver or pry bar and drop two crushed aspirin into each cell of the battery. Theoretically, this should cause a chemical reaction that changes some of the sulfuric acid into acetic acid and provide just enough oomph to get the engine to start turning over.
For bonus MacGyver points, try using cola to take any corrosion off of the terminals. If it's really cold outside, heat up the battery with whatever you've got on hand. Pouring hot water over the engine and battery itself (with everything disconnected) might help. YMMV. Literally.
Step 9: Treat a Hangover
Acetaminophen + alcohol = vicious, liver-destroying poison. Don't take Tylenol when you've been drinking.
After a long night out on the town, if you are in any condition to do so, take two aspirin before bed. These will help decrease the severity of the hangover in the morning by inhibiting prostaglandins. (You know you don't want those prostaglandins running around inside of your body like evil elves while you have the spins.) Then take two more in the morning with some breakfast. It'll decrease the severity of the morning headache and decrease the elf- or prostaglandin-related swelling.
If it's one of those mornings where the hair of the dog sounds as appetizing as actual canine fur, aspirin's your ticket to a productive day.