Can You Reuse Aluminum Foil?

Does your grandma reuse sheets of aluminum foil and keep washed aluminum pie plates in the cabinet? Growing up, you likely rolled your eyes at Grandma's frugality (and perhaps were slightly embarrassed), but Grandma wasn't eccentric — she was smart.

According to the USDA, a roll of aluminum foil is comprised of 98.5% aluminum, along with iron and silicon, which is rolled flat. The shiny side is created when one side touches the polished steel rollers that flatten the material. Aluminum foil is not the same thing as tin foil, although sometimes the names are used interchangeably, per Many Eats. Tin foil was first used in the late 18th century and remained in use until World War II when it was replaced with aluminum foil. The switch from tin to aluminum during the war years was because tin was more expensive and was primarily imported to the U.S. There was even a large push during WWII for people to collect and recycle tin for the war effort.

Wash and reuse your foil

After you take the aluminum foil cover off a bowl of leftovers, don't roll it into a ball and toss it out. AllRecipes says that aluminum foil can be reused after it's been washed and dried. Simply smooth out the sheet and either wash by hand or place it in the top rack of the dishwasher.

Aluminum foil is easy to wash and reuse, per Green Matters – because the foil is non-porous, cleaning it of food and other items stuck to it is fairly easy. However, some items just can't be removed. In those instances, remove the parts of the foil with stuck-on food and recycle the parts that are clean. You are not limited to reusing aluminum foil for food uses as you can also turn it into a dish scrubber, a scissors sharpener, and a way to store your silver so it doesn't tarnish as quickly, per Organic Authority. However, if none of those options is what's best for you, recycle the clean aluminum foil as it is considered valuable in the recycling industry, reports How-To Dispose. Aluminum foil is typically recycled within 60 days and the process of melting it down to make it into a roll of foil takes less energy than producing a whole new roll from scratch.

Whether you choose to wash and reuse your aluminum foil around the house or send it to the recycling facility, your foil has more than one use in it.