I like rice. However, until recently I did not look beyond the kitchen to see what else rice is capable of. For instance, I did not realize that the “rice water” so many Japanese women use to get their soft, smooth, timeless skin comes from—wait for it—cooked rice.
Here’s the 10 amazing things rice can do — for the next time your rice stockpile runneth over!
① Heal an injury
Asian medicines see the rice as a powerful natural healer. There are a couple of ways you can use up your extra rice to ease discomfort and aid in healing.
Roasted brown rice (Genmaicha) tea: The traditional Japanese recipe uses white (not brown) rice—the roasting process turns the white rice brown.
Rice Heat Sock: Place any kind of dry rice inside a thick sock (athletic socks are best) and tie off the end. Heat in the microwave for 30-60 seconds or until it gets to your desired warmth. This makes a great flexible heating pad for difficult-to-reach injuries.
② Restore Your Skin’s Youthful Glow
If you want to have smooth, youthful-looking skin, try rice water and rice bran. Both contain properties that ease wrinkles and restore the skin’s elasticity.
Rice Water Face Wash: The next time you make a pot of rice, add a bit more water than you usually do. When the rice is cooked, save the extra water and allow it to cool. Then use a soft cloth to wash your skin with the rice water gently.
Rice Bran Facial Exfoliator: “Rice bran” is actually just the outer husk of the rice grain (removed for white rice, left in place for brown rice).
You can use this recipe, or just boil some brown rice, mash it into a paste, add a few drops of olive oil, and apply it to the skin of your face and neck for 10-15 minutes, then rinse with cool water.
③ Benefit your Long-Term Health
Several ways consuming rice can benefit your long-term health, and these methods might surprise you (they did me!).
Rice lowers stress levels: Brown rice is packed with calming B-vitamins, which naturally lower stress levels and ward off anxiety.
Rice can ward off Alzheimer’s disease and dementia: Brown rice is the hero here. It is thought that consuming brown rice helps the brain produce neurotransmitters that protect cells from free radicals and other toxins.
Rice aids in weight loss: If you want to lose weight and keep it off, increase your consumption of brown rice, which contains complex carbs and fiber to help stave off cravings and balance blood sugar.
④ Gets Hard-to-Reach Spaces Squeaky Clean
If you are struggling to clean out delicate items like a coffee grinder, thermos, flower vase or wine decanter, rice can help.
What to do: Add some uncooked rice grains in with the water and soap. Cover the top of the item and shake, shake, shake. The rice will take the soap and water into all those cracks and crevices and ensure a good, clean scrub.
⑤ Rescue Wet Appliances
Everyone at one time or another experiences the terrible sight of a favorite (expensive) appliance sinking into a puddle of wet…something. If your device gets wet, rice can speed up the drying out process (and hopefully, save you from having to buy a new one!).
What to do: Quickly remove the battery: Unfortunately, most smartphones have inaccessible batteries, and this plan may never work for you. Allow the device to dry by wiping any visible water with a dry, smooth cloth.
Submerge the soaked appliance completely in a tub of uncooked rice grains. Leave it overnight (or wait for about 3-4 days) to give you the best results but depends on how bad the immersion was. The rice grains will absorb moisture wherever they find it, giving your device a fighting chance to pull through.
It simple electronics, water, does not damage gadgets alone, but the movement of electric charge in a wet environment creates short circuits which then causes the device to faultier.
⑥ Nourish Dry, Frizzy, Damaged Hair
Everyone wants the kind of sleek, frizz-free, healthy hair “as seen on TV.” However, in reality, our daily life can be unfairly hard on our hair—from the wind and the sun to the toxins in the air and the chemicals we use for coloring and styling. Rice can help nourish and nurse your hair back to health.
What to do: Take some uncooked brown rice and grind it up (use a food processor, blender, or even a coffee grinder for this). Now mix it with one cup water and one egg white. Use a whisk to froth the mixture and then apply it to your hair from scalp to ends. Leave on 10 minutes, then rinse off with cool water.
⑦ Ripen Up Fruit in a Hurry
No matter how carefully you plan, there may come a day when you miscalculate how long those unripe avocados or peaches will take to ripen up before you need them. In these cases, rice can speed the ripening process along nicely.
What to do: Fill a jar halfway with uncooked rice (white or brown). Add the unripe items (making sure the rice covers each completely). Store in a dark place. Check daily to monitor the ripening process.
⑧ Check if Oil is Hot Enough.
Want to check the temperature of the oil you are using to deep fry? All you need to do is drop a grain of rice into it. If the rice pops up to the surface of the oil and begins cooking, the oil is ready for frying. In my experience, it is much more reliable than a deep fry thermometer.
⑨ Keep Salt Separated
A classic restaurant trick: store a few grains of rice in your salt shaker to prevent that annoying clumping.
⑩ Get Crafty with Rice
Rice not only makes awesome mosaic art (for kids and adults alike), but when overcooked, it also turns into quite the handy glue! Rice glue is still used all over Asia today in everything from bookbinding to artwork.
What to do: To make rice glue, you want to overcook your rice (think “oatmeal,” not “rice”). The key to successful overcooking is to keep adding water until the consistency is thick and sludgy.
Then you can either blend it with a bit more water or push it through a sieve to get the consistency of paste. Store the mixture in a jar (in the fridge is best). Use a brush or tongue depressor to spread the glue (it will look white until it dries, at which point it will turn transparent).