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Uses for Used Coffee Grounds

Coffee Cup

Mmm, coffee does taste good in the morning. The aroma of a freshly-brewed pot of coffee draws me to the kitchen with my favorite coffee cup in hand. We brew at least one pot of coffee nearly every day. It's one of our morning routines - make a fresh pot of coffee and feed the cats. Not necessarily in that order, depending on how loud the cats are meowing.

After the coffee is made and enjoyed, there is a filter full of coffee grounds. Day after day, more and more grounds. We don't throw them away, though. Those used coffee grounds can be re purposed in many useful ways. Following are a few of them, 26 to be exact:

NOTE: In most of these alternate uses, the coffee grounds should first be spread out in a thin layer to dry. If you can place the drying grounds in a patch of sunshine on your kitchen counter, that is even better, it will speed up the drying process.

(If you don't drink coffee, but want to try some of these uses, then see ideas for Where to Get Coffee Grounds at the end of this article.)

26 Good Uses for Used Coffee Grounds

1. Coffee PotThe obvious - use the grounds to make a second pot of coffee. Leave the freshly used grounds in the filter and simply measure new grounds on top.  You may need to adjust this to taste, but I'd recommend starting by adding 1/2 to 3/4 of the grounds you would normally use.  I've found that this makes a very good second pot of coffee at half the normal cost. This is likely because my coffee maker brews the coffee very fast, which leaves a lot of the flavor in the grounds.

Not everyone will appreciate re-brewing coffee grounds: The National Coffee Association USA, indicates that "once brewed, the desirable coffee flavors have been extracted and only the bitter undesirable ones are left."

Note that the coffee grounds should be used immediately after the first pot is brewed. I have found that the second pot is not nearly as good if you used leftover, refrigerated grounds. Nonetheless, If you still want to save the grounds for later, they MUST be either refrigerated or quickly dried. Mold develops fairly rapidly on coffee grounds simply left damp and dark in the coffee maker.

2. To eliminate an ant problem, sprinkle dried coffee grounds on anthills and around and across the ant entry areas. (Sorry, does not really work with fire ants.)

3. Work the coffee grounds into the soil around house plants and garden plants as a fertilizer. Flowers outside windowCoffee contains acids, nitrogen, potassium, copper, and other trace elements that are beneficial to plants.

Coffee grounds are slightly acidic, so they are especially effective with acid-loving plants like rhododendrons, blueberries, azaleas, iris, pachysandra, ferns, and pine trees.

Coffee grounds are also an excellent fertilizer for tomatoes, and make a good soil for mushrooms.

(Rutgers Soil Testing Laboratory has a good list of acid-loving perennials and trees: http://njaes.rutgers.edu/soiltestinglab/pdfs/ph-Lime-req.pdf)

See the resources below for an article from Sunset.com with detailed, in-depth information on using coffee as a compost in your garden.

4. Use the grounds as a pesticide. This does not work with decaffeinated coffee - it's the caffeine that does the trick. According to The Harvard Crimson, a Harvard scientist has determined that caffeine disrupted the behavior and reproduction cycles of insects, and in concentrated doses, killed insects within hours. The study also found that mixing caffeine with pesticides could increase the pesticide's potency by ten times.

While there may not be enough of a concentration of caffeine in the coffee grounds to kill insects, sprinkling the grounds in the soil and also applying pesticide may allow you to use much less pesticide. It is certainly worth experimenting with.

5.Bikini legs Coffee grounds may reduce cellulite and help tone skin. Note that many anti-cellulite skin care products contain caffeine as one of the active ingredients. Take a handful of the dry, used grounds (not decaffeinated), add a bit of oil or water, and massage in vigorous, gentle circles on your thighs and any other area with cellulite. This should be done in the shower, because the coffee grounds will end up everywhere ... it's a messy process. Even if the grounds do not affect your cellulite, when massaged onto your skin, they are a great skin smoother.

Another method of using coffee grounds for cellulite is to add a bit of oil or water to the dry grounds, enough to form a sort of gritty paste, and then layer this on your thighs, hips, or other cellulite-prone areas. Then wrap the area with plastic wrap and leave the whole mess treatment on for 10-15 minutes. Don't forget what I told you about doing this in the shower or outside (hmmm... do your really want the neighbors to witness this one?) or in a room with the floor covered with newspapers.

6. The grounds can be used as a facial exfoliator, but you should be very gentle - use lovely fairy-godmother fingers instead of King-Kong-gorilla fingers for this process. Avoid the delicate tissue under your eyes and rub in gentle circles. Your skin will be refreshed, radiant, and smooth. Of course, you will first allergy test this on a bit of skin, such as your inner elbow.

7. Poke holes in the lid of an old margarine tub, fill with dry coffee grounds and place it in the back of your refrigerator or freezer and it will absorb odors and act as a natural deodorizer. Just toss the grounds after a couple of weeks and replace with fresh ones.

8. Use the coffee grounds as a dye. I dyed a pair of white valances a lovely pale tan color to match some curtain panels that I had purchased online that I thought were white. It worked beautifully. Simply put the grounds in a heat-proof bag - I used the foot of an old, clean pair of panty hose - tie off the end of the bag and then place it in gently boiling water. Use enough water so that you will be able to entirely immerse and soak your piece of fabric. Turn off the heat and let the bag steep in the water for about 10 minutes. Add more coffee grounds for a darker color, if desired. Then immerse and soak your fabric in the coffee water. Be sure that the fabric is evenly saturated and allow it to soak for up to 30 minutes. Let the water cool first if your fabric care label says to wash in cold water only. If you have a lot of fabric, you can use your washing machine for the soaking, but be forewarned that this will take a lot of coffee and water!

This is also a great trick for dying anything that has a coffee stain that you have not been able to remove. The stain should disappear as the rest of the fabric becomes coffee colored!

9. If you have brown or red hair, use the grounds to make a strong coffee solution - use your coffee maker or use the steeping mBrunette with Red Lipstickethod in #8 above. Then use this coffee as a rinse after you wash your hair. This will condition and shine your hair.

(Note that you can also do this with leftover coffee. Instead of pouring it out, put it in a plastic cup and take it up to the shower.)

If you want a bit of temporary brown color and highlights or some gray hair coverage, then you can massage the used grounds directly in your freshly shampooed hair and then leave them for several minutes and rinse out. Reminder! Coffee grounds as a beauty product are really messy! Do this in the shower or even outdoors.

10. Hide a scratch on your wooden furniture. Steep the grounds in a little boiling water to make a strong coffee solution, then use the solution and a cotton swab or cotton ball to dab along a scratch in your wooden furniture. You can also test this as a way to even out the color on badly worn areas of your wooden furniture.

11. Place the dry used coffee grounds in a shallow dish in a room or hang the grounds in small potpourri bags (old, clean pantyhose can be cut up for this purpose) and use them as a room freshener and deodorizer.

12. Use the coffee grounds in the garden to slow down or prevent slugs and snails from eating your plants. Put the grounds in a little ring around any plants that you would like to deter these bugs from. Mix in crushed egg shells with the coffee grounds for an even more effective deterrent. Try this to slow down the slugs on their favorite plants - hostas, strawberries, tulips, and lettuce.

13. Apparently, worms love coffee. Your garden loves worms. So if you have a worm compost heap or just a place in your garden where worms love to hang out, then sprinkle a generous amount of the grounds in those areas to encourage the worm population.

14. Kitten with big eyesCoffee grounds are supposed to discourage your kitty from doing her business in your garden. Despite generous sprinklings of coffee grounds in the garden, this did not deter my cats. However, I just read that mixing orange peels with the coffee grounds and then sprinkling this on the garden is more effective at keeping cats away. Since citrus scent is a natural cat deterrent, this should make a difference and I'll try that one soon.

15. Dampen your hands and massage them with coffee grounds to eliminate odors from food preparation, such as chopping garlic or onions. This will also leave your hands smooth and energized.

16. While I could not find any scientific studies to back it up, there are many claims that coffee grounds can be massaged into your cat or dog's fur to repel fleas. It's worth a try - just remember that the grounds are messy, so do it outside or as a final step to their bath.. Also, remember that the caffeine in coffee grounds can be toxic to your dog or cat , so you should take care that your dog or cat does not have access to eat the coffee grounds. Use the same care and prevention methods when using coffee grounds that you use when you use the commercial flea treatments on your pet.

17. Sink PipesWhile coffee grounds can be effective in cleaning drain pipes, use this with great caution. Coffee grounds will build up inside a pipe as it clings to other soft debris in the pipe. This is especially true for older pipes. If you do use coffee grounds to clean kitchen or bathroom pipes, then be vigilant about running large amounts of hot water after the grounds in order to flush them away. As one plumber on www.doityourself.com says, "When I performed service plumbing repair, I'd estimate that 95% of my drain back up's in commercial buildings was caused by the office coffee pot."



18. Several sites say to use coffee grounds and henna to make temporary tattoos, but they leave no other clues as to how to do this and the best I could find was a set of excellent instructions on making henna tattoos by mixing henna powder with a little oil and lemon juice and then stirring it into a small amount of strong coffee. You could use the used coffee grounds to make the strong coffee, so I guess that would technically count as a use for them.

19. Woman at sinkUse the coffee grounds as an abrasive cleaner (use only on surfaces that will not stain!). Make a bit of paste of the grounds and use a cloth or a small brush for scrubbing. This is great for pots and pans. You can also pack the grounds in a bag made from nylon net or old, clean panty hose and use that as a scrubbing pad.

20. Delight the kids and make a treasure stone with the used coffee grounds. About.com has a recipe for making a Treasure Stone using flour, used coffee grounds, salt, sand, and water. It's a pretty neat project for kids, especially since the idea is that once the stone is dry, the kids can take a hammer and break open the rocks to find the treasure inside.

21. Make clay. You can also make Air-Dry clay with a recipe similar to #20, but where you leave the mixture a bit damp for cutting and shaping.

22. One more craft project ... make Native American Crafts with the used coffee grounds, salt and cornmeal.

23. Another common suggestion that I have found is to use the wet grounds to reduce the ash dust when cleaning your fireplace. Simply put a thick sprinkling of wet coffee grounds over the ashes before you start to sweep or scoop them out of the fireplace.

24. Add the grounds to your marinade to tenderize meat. The acids in the coffee grounds will act as the tenderizer. Add the grounds to the liquid in your marinade (or rub the grounds directly onto the meat), then add the meat and allow to marinade for at least several hours. You could also use the grounds to make a strong coffee brew and use the coffee in the marinade instead of the coffee grounds.

25.Pincushion Make a pincushion and use the dry grounds as a filler. Here are 21 Pincushion Patterns to get you going.

26. Make ancient writing paper. Brew the used grounds in hot water until the water turns dark brown. (Yes, you can use your coffee maker for this ... just use double the normal amount of grounds for the amount of water you are using. ) Allow to cool to warm. Now pour the water into a casserole dish or an old cookie pan with sides. Dip sheets of white paper into the mixture and allow it to soak up the coffee water. Gently pick the paper up by two corners and slowly pull the paper out. Variations in the color will give it a parchment paper look, so don't obsess about getting the paper to be evenly colored, just be sure that all the white is gone. Now lay the paper flat on another old cookie sheet, or you could hang it on a line with clothespins to dry. Keep in mind that if you use the clothespins method, that you may need to cut off the top section of the paper to get rid of the clothes pin "dents". Experiment with different weights, types, and colors of paper . You can even use older paper that might otherwise be thrown away!

You can use this paper to make your own cards, letters, and picture mats. The kids will be delighted to make their own scrolls and mysterious ancient messages!

If you think about it, you've probably already tested this one when you accidentally set your dripping coffee mug down on that important report you had just finished. That messy coffee mug makes quite a brown ring on the paper doesn't it? Yeah.



Now, enjoy that wonderful cup of coffee ... and save the grounds! You've got 26 uses for them.


Where to get coffee grounds if you don't drink coffee

Bring home the office coffee grounds. You may have to take turns with other office workers, but it's easy to take a plastic container or zippered plastic bag to the office to bring home the coffee grounds. Once you have the grounds home, immediately spread them thin on a cookie sheet or in a shallow casserole dish so they can dry out. Damp or wet grounds will have mold within a day or two! Dry grounds store for months.

Ask a friend who drinks coffee to save their used coffee grounds. To avoid picking up moldy grounds, you will need to pick these up the same day that they were used for coffee making, or you will want to be sure to have your friend dry out the grounds for you so you can pick them up later.

Check with your local Starbucks coffee shop. They have a program called Grounds For Your Garden where customers can get a 5 lb bag of used coffee grounds.

Of course, check with any of your local coffee shops or restaurants that serve coffee. It's a fair guess that disposing of coffee grounds is something they would love to have a little help with. Be polite and take care to avoid making it a nuisance, and you likely will have a steady source of all the coffee grounds you want!






Article by Patti Tokar

Image of Sink Pipes by Patti Tokar Canton. All other images are courtesy of office.microsoft.com





NCA - National Coffee Assoc USA - How to Brew Coffee - http://www.ncausa.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=71

Coffee Grounds to Ground - groundtoground.org

Harvard Crimson - Caffeine Kills Insects - http://www.thecrimson.com/article/1984/10/9/caffeine-kills-insects-scientist-says-pif/

Offbeat Uses for Everyday Things - Joey Green

Doityourself.com - http://www.doityourself.com/forum/plumbing-piping/167730-coffee-grounds-down-drain.html#ixzz23U1uiKvz

Make henna tattoos -http://www.mehndiskinart.com/recipe.htm

Yahoo voices Air Dry Clay - http://voices.yahoo.com/how-air-dry-clay-coffee-grounds-1358159.html?cat=24

About.com Family Crafts - Treasure Stone - http://familycrafts.about.com/cs/miscstpatricks/a/bltrstone.htm

eHow.com - Native American Crafts with Coffee Grounds and Leaves - http://www.ehow.com/how_7682724_make-using-coffee-grounds-leaves.html

Starbucks Coffee - http://www.starbucks.com/responsibility/environment/recycling

Sunset.com - Starbucks Coffee Compost Test - http://www.sunset.com/garden/earth-friendly/starbucks-coffee-compost-test-00400000016986/



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