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First aide, beauty regimes and home cleaning

Aside from being sweet on our palate, granulated sugar can be used for a variety of household needs. The uses that are listed below have been gathered together from contemporary internet blogs and historical household manuals. They present a sample of what the material of sugar can be used for - from household tips to body care.

Keeping food fresh

To prevent biscuits from becoming stale, store in an air-tight container with a handful of sugar cubes. This trick also works for breads, cakes, and even cheese. It will prevent mold growth and keep them tasting fresh. 

Extending the life of cut flowers

The simple carbohydrates in sugar can not only provide nutrients to humans and animals, but to plants as well. Add about 3 teaspoons of sugar and two tablespoons of white vinegar to a vase filled with water. The sugar helps the flowers stay fresh and strong, while the vinegar kills bacteria and keep bugs away from your vase. 

An anti-irritant

The artificial sweetener known as Sweet and Low is commonly used in America to reduce the itchy scalp side-effect of permanent hair dye. Potassium bitartrate, one of the ingredients in the sweetener product, has a low pH, while saccharin the other main ingredient has an acidic pH. Adding artificial sweetener directly into the hair dye mixture before applying can neutralize some of the ammonia used in permanent hair color and can reduce irritation to the skin.

An antibacterial treatment

Moses Murandu a senior lecturer in adult nursing at the University of Wolverhampton has recently
completed a pilot study focusing on sugar’s applications in wound healing. To treat a wound with sugar, simply pour sugar onto the affected area and apply a bandage on top. The granules soak up any moisture that allows bacteria to thrive and the wound heals more quickly. Murando has tested this in Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and carried out clinical studies in the UK and won an award from the Journal of Wound Care for his work. Murandu’s pilot showed that strains of bacteria grew in low concentrations of sugar but were completely inhibited in higher concentrations. Murandu started recording case studies in Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Lesotho (where he first trained in nursing) and has now carried out clinical studies on 41 patients in the UK winning an award from the Journal of Wound Care for his work. It is hoped that more clinical studies will persuade the NHS to adopt the use of sugar as a standard practice for treating wounds.

An exfoliator

The most simple means to remove dead skin is to vigorously rub granulated brown sugar on the designated area and then wipe off with a damp cloth. For a more luxurious skin treatment blend together equal amounts of freshly minced ginger, coarse brown sugar and almond oil.

A hair removal product

Search for DIY sugaring online and you’ll find many recipes for a simple sugar hair removal paste. Sugar, water and lemon juice are all that is needed to create a mixture that is akin to hair removal wax. Sugaring is very similar to waxing because it removes hair from the root. It is claimed that sugaring is less painful than waxing as the homemade sugar paste does not stick to the skin in the same way hot body wax tends to.

To make a sugaring paste you will need:

  • 2 cups white cane sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup water

Mix the ingredients in a heavy saucepan over a medium-high heat. Stir the mixture often so that it doesn't overheat at the bottom.

After the mixture comes to a boil, turn the heat down to low-medium and simmer for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes of simmering, the sugar hair removal product should be a dark amber color.

Remove it from the heat and let it cool for about 10 minutes before placing in an airtight container to keep the product from getting too sticky and becoming difficult to work with.

Once the product has cooled, you are ready for hair removal - apply and work in similar way as with body wax. You can use the same ball of sugar mixture around 5 or 6 times. Each time you pull it off your skin, roll it into a ball again for its next use.

For home cleaning

Sugar mixed with a variety of natural acidic products from citrus fruit to vinegar can be used to remove a multitude of different stains and clean various household items. Here are just some recommendations of what can be turned pristine with a simple sugar solution.

Stains: To get rid of common stains, mix warm water with sugar until it forms a paste. Rub the paste over the stain and let sit for about an hour, then wash with regular detergent.

Grease: To remove grease from hands wash them with a mixture of liquid soap and caster sugar. The rough granules of sugar will act as an exfoliator cleaning your hands of excess grease.
Marked floors: To remove stains from the floor (mosaic or wooded) mix of 4tbsp. of vinegar, to the same quantity of sugar. Apply the mixture directly to the stain with a cotton cloth to lighten the area.
Rust: A sugar and lemon juice solution can be used to clean rust. To try – add the juice of one lemon into 3tbsp. of sugar for an effective cleaning mixture.

Silver: A mixture of sugar and rose water is purported to be an excellent solution to make silverware sparkle. Add one tbsp. of rose water to 3 tbsp. of sugar. Mix the solution until the sugar melts and then it is ready to use.

Laura Mansfield

Laura is editor of FEAST