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Nature’s Versatile Powder: Cornstarch

Nature’s Versatile Powder: Cornstarch
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On my way out the door for a day at Jones Beach last week, I grabbed a box of cornstarch to use in soothing a visiting grandbaby’s diaper rash.

When I got to the beach, I immediately got sand everywhere possible it was to do so and muttered a complaint. My friend pulled out of her beach bag a small Tupperware box and a paintbrush. “Try this to get the sand off,” she said. Dunking the paintbrush in the powder, I swept it down my sand-encrusted legs and voila! Instant sand removal. The powder in the box was cornstarch.

I came home to research how this workaday (and cheap) white powder does more than just thicken sauces, help babies’ butts and (now I knew) get rid of sand like magic.

Here’s what else I discovered cornstarch can do:

Soothe sunburn: If, despite the sunblock, you got burned, mix 1 cup of cornstarch into your warm bath water and soak for 20 minutes.

Bug Bites & poison ivy: Cornstarch made into a paste with a little water and applied to the bite or rash will soothe the itch.

Burns: Did you get a little too close to the grill? Mix 1 tablespoon baking soda and I Tablespoon cornstarch in 8 cups warm water. Dip some gauze into the liquid and place gently on the skin. Leave it on the burn for a half an hour.

Athlete’s foot: Shake cornstarch into your sneaker or gym shoes. It will reduce the itching.

Out of deodorant? Swab underarms with cotton balls dipped in rubbing alcohol and then dust with cornstarch. It will get rid of the smell and even help a little with the moisture.

Make soap: Heat a mixture of 2 Tablespoons glycerin, an equal amount of cornstarch and a half a cup of water in a double boiler until the mixture is thick and clear. Put it in a container to cool and use as soap.

Cornstarch facial: Mix 2 tablespoon of milk and 1 egg white with ¾ cup of cornstarch until smooth. Apply to your face and let it dry for 10 minutes. Rinse with cool water. You should see smaller pores and a reduction in redness.

No powder or mineral makeup?: A light dusting of cornstarch will take the shine off of oily skin.

Body powder: Dusting your thighs helps chafing in shorts and if you add a couple of drops of your favorite perfume or essential oil to cornstarch in a closed container, you’ll have scented body power.

Dry shampoo: Got suntan lotion in your hair or have no time to shower? Sprinkle cornstarch in your hair, wait a few minutes and brush out. Or insert cotton between the bristles and then brush out for an even deeper “clean.” Use your new scented body powder for sweeter-smelling hair.

Starch: If your clothes are looking a little limp with summer’s humidity, dissolve cornstarch (completely) in hot water and shake before using. For medium starch, use ¼ cup cornstarch to 8 cups hot water. Use ¾ cup in 4 cups of water for heavy starch or ¼ cup per 12 cups of hot water for light starch.

Books & Mildew: To get rid of that musty smell, dust the pages with cornstarch and leave it on overnight. Just dust off in the morning.

Blood stains: Make a paste of cornstarch and water. Apply to the stain and gently rub in and then place in the sun until it dries. Brush off the paste. You might have to do this several times.

Grease on clothes/leather: Blot as much as you can and sprinkle the grease stain with cornstarch. Let it sit 15 minutes. Dust off the cornstarch and sprinkle the stain with while vinegar. Then launder. This works on leather too (minus the laundering, of course.) Leave the cornstarch on overnight and brush off the next day

Baking powder: If you run out while making a recipe, make your own by mixing equal parts baking soda and cornstarch and 2 parts cream of tartar.

Roaches: Kill the nasty buggers by mixing equal parts plaster of paris and cornstarch and sprinkle in all the cracks you see.

Carpet cleaning: Make a paste of cornstarch and milk and apply to any obvious stains. Let it dry, brush it with a hard bristle brush and vacuum. To freshen the whole carpet, sprinkle everywhere with cornstarch and leave it alone for 30 minutes. Then vacuum.

Window cleaner: Mix 1 teaspoon dishwashing detergent and 1 teaspoon cornstarch in a gallon of water. Mix it well, spray on windows and wipe dry. You’ll get a streak-free shine.

Knots: This may be my favorite. If you have been wrestling with a difficult knot (and losing), sprinkle the knot with cornstarch and the knot may just magically detangle.

This versatile powder, cornstarch, has earned a permanent place in my pantry.



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