Baa baa black sheep, have you any steel wool? While steel wool does not contain any actual wool, it is comprised of low-grade carbon steel wire or stainless steel. Steel wool can also be made with aluminum or bronze. It gets its name from the fluffy bundle shape that resembles wool. There are many household uses for steel wool, such as cleaning and pest control.
Assessing Steel Wool Grades
When using steel wool for cleaning purposes, you want to know the grade. The grades are determined by the coarseness of the metal. It goes from extra fine to very coarse, according to HowStuffWorks. The coarser the steel wool, the more abrasive it is. The finer the steel wool, the less rough it will be. Coarser steel wool can cause scratching on certain surfaces.
Keep Mice and Rats Out
Mice are able to squeeze through tiny holes, holes that may seem too small for their entry. Although it may seem impossible, mice can squeeze through a hole the size of a nickel and rats can squeeze through a hole the size of a half dollar, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The best way to rid your home of rodents is using an exclusion method, which stops them from entering your home in the first place. It is more humane and sustainable than killing them. The CDC suggests filling in small holes with steel wool, making sure the holes are completely covered. Next, caulk around the steel wool to keep it secured in place. If the steel wool is not secured with caulk, mice may pull the steel wool out with their feet. These materials can be purchased at a hardware store.
Read more: How Do I Get Rid of Rats?
Steel Wool for Cleaning
Steel wool can be used to remove baked on grease. Its abrasive quality is great for rubbing off stubborn messes. Use very fine steel wool to clean aluminum pots and pan and a stainless steel scrubber on cast iron. Steel wool is not advised for stainless steel or ceramic pots and pans because it could scratch.
Brillo pads are an alternative. They are steel wool square shaped pads that have soap in them already. It contains an antirust formula that can be used to clean pots, baking sheets and restore grills. Read the directions carefully to make sure they are safe for the type of pot or pan you are cleaning.
How to Strip Cast Iron
You can use steel wool to remove rust and re-season cast iron pots, pans and skillets. Moisture can cause profile rusting, which can easily be removed. The Kitchn recommends the following steps to remove profile rust. Begin by using fine grade steel wool to scour the rust away. Next, wash off with mild dish soap and warm water. You may need to scrub the pan some more with a sponge or dish brush.
Dry the skillet off. Then apply a small amount of vegetable oil or another cooking oil of your choice to the entire piece including the bottom and handle. Now put the cast iron upside down on the top rack of the oven for one hour at 350 F. Place a sheet of aluminum foil or a foil-lined baking sheet on the bottom rack to catch any oil dripping off. Finally, allow the cast iron to cool off. Your skillet should be good as new and ready for use.
Try using steel wool to solve household problems. This inexpensive product has many helpful uses.
Meg Scanlon earned a Masters from Johns Hopkins University. Her writing can be found on Hunker, Cuteness, Funny or Die, BarkPost, Taste of Home, LoveTV and ALittleBitFunny.com.