Ice trays can be used for far more than just freezing water. I save money by stockpiling these inexpensive, durable containers, which I use for everything from preserving expiring eggs to organizing jewelry. Read on to start saving by thinking outside of the box!
1. Make a seed starter
I upcycle my ice cube trays into long-lasting seed starters. I've found that sprouting annuals, perennials, or edible plants in an ice cube tray is cheaper and easier than using tabletop greenhouses, nursery pots, or even egg cartons. I like to purchase my ice trays from thrift stores for 20 – 50 cents apiece because I can often find trays from 10 – 20 years ago, which are wider and sturdier than the trays currently on the market. To make your own seed starter, you'll need to drill a 1/8-inch hole into each cell of your ice tray. Then, add potting soil and sow your choice of seeds. If you don't have a drill, you can burn a hole into each cell's bottom with a hot screw driver. This hole will create drainage for your seedlings. Once your seedlings are ready to be planted in your garden, you'll be able to pop them out by sticking a pencil or chopstick in the drainage hole.
2. Freeze fresh herbs in water
To keep my pantry stocked with fresh herbs year-round, I cut and freeze them in an ice tray that is filled halfway with water. I recommend placing a tablespoon in each section of the tray, so you know how much each cube holds. The herbs will most likely float. Just push them under the water as much as possible and place them in the freezer for at least 24 hours. Then snap out the cubes and stick them into a Ziploc bag. Make sure you label and date the bag because frozen herbs tend to look similar.
3. Preserve eggs for future use
4. Make a paint palette
I turn slightly cracked ice trays into makeshift paint palettes that are perfect for rainy-day crafts and full-scale art projects. Because paint is typically thicker than water, it won't seep through the ice tray's cracks. Plus, you'll avoid the potential mess that comes with leaving out open containers of paint. You can also keep colors organized while mixing custom shades in the tray's empty cells. The best part—cleanup is a breeze. Paint. Rinse. Repeat.
5. Create cleaners for your garbage disposal
I use a lemon, vinegar, and an ice tray to make cleaners for my garbage disposal. Simply squeeze a lemon slice into each slot of the ice tray. Next, douse the lemons with vinager, and place the ice tray into the freezer for 2-3 hours. Once the cleaners are frozen, crack the cubes out of the tray, stick them into a Ziploc bag, and store them in your freezer. Then whenever your garbage disposal is in dire need of a pick-me-up, drop a couple of cubes down it and run lukewarm water over them.
6. Make your own dishwasher tabs
I use ice trays to make my own dishwasher tablets. To make your own, you'll need to grab a spoon and mix:
16 ounces of baking soda
16 ounces of borax
4 ounces vinegar
4 ounces of Epsom salt
15-20 drops of lemon essential oil
Once the mixture is well combined, it will start clumping all by itself. You'll need to pack the mixture into 2 ice cube trays. Make sure each cell is hard-packed with detergent. Then place the ice trays in a dry, sunny spot for at least 24 hours. Once you're ready to use them, put 1 tablet into the dishwasher detergent compartment along with 3 drops of dishwashing liquid. If you use more than 3 drops of soap, your dishwasher will overflow. To prevent cloudy dishes, pour 4 to 8 ounces of vinegar into a cup and place it on the top rack of your dishwasher. Then start your machine.
7. Brew coffee and tea cubes
I love coffee year-round, and I'm a big fan off unsweetened and herbal teas especially during the spring and summer. To keep my coffee and tea from watering down, I use my ice trays to create coffee and tea ice cubes. First, brew a pot of your favorite coffee or tea, and let it cool to room temperature. You can also take your coffee or tea to the next level if you stir in a tablespoon of your favorite extract, liquor, or creamer. Next, drizzle the coffee or tea into an ice tray and let it freeze overnight. Then push the coffee or tea cubes out of the ice tray, stack them into a glass, and top them off with coffee or tea.
8. Garnish drinks with herbal ice cubes
I garnish my springtime lemonade and tea with breathtaking ice cubes that contain artificial and all-natural flowers, which are perfectly edible. This trick is great for family get-togethers (like Easter dinner), block parties, and BBQs. To prevent your drink from watering down, freeze the flowers in whatever drink you're going to serve.
9. Create decorative mini-candles
I use silicone ice trays, tea light candles, crayons, and an old cup to make decorative mini-candles. Remove the tea light candles from their metal cases and place the wicks into a tray. Then break the candles into 4 small piles. Crumble a different color crayon onto three of the piles. Microwave the plain wax in an old cup and pour a little of it into each cell of the ice tray. Then do the same with the other piles going from lighter to darker. Finally, stick a wick in the middle of each candle and put the ice tray in the refrigerator to harden.
10. Organize jewelry
When I'm strapped for cash or space, I stack ice cube trays in my dresser drawer to separate and organize my earrings, rings, and necklaces.
This is a guest post by Cherese from Tennessee.