20 Reuses For Orange Peels

Citrus Peels Have Many Reuses. Photo © Molly McCoy

We’ve been going through a lot of satsumas and clementines lately. This time of year, we save the skins for reuse. Turns out orange peel skin, and citrus peel in general, whether it’s dried orange peel or fresh, is a versatile material used widely from the kitchen, to the garden, and in the fireplace. If you don’t compost, here are our top 20 orange peel uses to entice you to keep them out of your garbage.

1) Make a natural cleaning product. It will work wonders in your house and office and is really easy to make. Saves a bundle, too.

DIY All-Purpose Household Cleaner

2) Dry your orange peels and use as fire starter. They’re naturally flammable and burn longer than your ordinary stick.

3) Orange peels in water make a great insect repellant for the home. Keep ’em out!

4) Create an orange peel candle.

5) Orange peel essential oil is a really strong ingredient to add to any natural house cleaning product.

6) Put all your orange peels in the compost for natural fertilizer for your garden.

7) Use your peels for orange zest in recipes.

8) Place some dried peels in your old brown sugar to make sure it doesn’t solidify due to moisture.

9) Make spiced candied orange peel and give it as a gift.

10) Orange peel roses look beautiful as a centerpiece.

11) Try your luck with an orange peel sugar scrub to kiss winter skin goodbye.

12) Start your garden early by growing seedlings in a citrus peel starter pot.

13) Squeeze orange peels onto your dryer lint to enhance their ability as fire starter fodder.

14) Dried orange peels can extend the life of your potpourri.

15) Orange peel deodorizer: Put a few orange peels in the bottom of your trash cans. They are a great deodorizer.

16) Natural mosquito repellent: Try rubbing orange peels over your skin to deter those bugs.

17) Make an orange peel bird feeder for the birds.

18) Simmer with your favorite whole spices like allspice, cinnamon, and cloves to create a lovely aroma in your home.

19) Make some cool looking orange peel teeth for Halloween.

20) Occasionally put an orange peel down into the garbage disposal to clean out your disposal and make it smell fresh.

Don’t stop at 20!

21) Craft some adorable orange peel boats with the kids.

What do you do with your orange peels?

Metal or Plastic Rakes? A Review.

We’re still raking leaves. And as I rake, I think about the fact that every purchase we make can actually make a difference on our planet. By choosing a rake made with the right materials, you can have a positive impact on the environment. If you’re a regular reader of my posts, you might already know the answer I’ll have for this question of metal vs plastic rakes — metal wins! So what is my judging criteria? It’s not just sustainability and end-of-life scenarios that I’m taking into consideration.

Two plastic rakes, not very old, both just about useless. Photo © Liesl Clark

When you buy a rake, you’ll likely want your money’s-worth, i.e. you’d like your rake to be effective and last a good long time. As we know from our studies of plastics in the ocean, plastics photodegrade, they break down into smaller pieces over time, and most will never ever go away. Plastic rake tines are no exception. With repeated sun exposure and certainly in the cold, plastic rakes become more brittle and crack and break over time. My backyard trials have proven they’ll do this rather quickly. The 2 rakes photographed above were bought at the same time, about 1.5 years ago. The green one lost 2 center tines early in its life and then cracked at the point where the wooden handle meets the plastic rake. The orange rake lost 2 side tines and is now cracking down the middle of the rake. I figure we’ll get another couple of months out of it. We do a lot of leaf raking around here.

Leaf Dreams. Do you see the face in there? Photo © Liesl Clark

So what kind of rake do we prefer? A working and sustainable one that can ultimately be recycled in the metal bin, the wooden handle burned in our fire pit? Or one that will work for a shorter amount of time and will stay on the planet forever, breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces and entering our waterways over time? I know that sounds extreme, but this is what plastics do. They’re buoyant and are doomed to become microplastics one day.

Introducing my favorite rake. Metal, and about 10 years old. It gets all jobs done. Photo © Liesl Clark

A metal rake may be a little more expensive, but it will last longer as a useful rake than your plastic one and when it has reached the end of it’s useful life, you can either recycle the metal part or use it in your garden art. We reuse our wooden handles for replacing the wooden handle of another garden tool, like another rake or a shovel. Metal rake tines can rust but the rust won’t deter you from raking. If they bend, they can be bent back!

Backside of another very old metal rake (likely 8 years old). The one bent tine can easily be bent back into place. Photo © Liesl Clark

Some landscapers prefer plastic rakes for heavy wet leaf raking and metal ones for dry lighter-weight jobs. I’ve used both for both jobs and don’t notice much of a difference. Even bamboo rakes can tackle both jobs well. My favorite bamboo rake is nearing the end of its life (probably because I left it out in the rain too often) but every part of it can be reused: We’ll compost the bamboo, the metal will go in our local scrap metal bin for recycling, and we’ll save the handle for replacing that metal rake we’ve been meaning to mend.

Our zero waste bamboo rake is nearing the end of it's life. Photo © Liesl Clark

Here's the metal rake I need to mend. The handle broke off but the head keeps on working! It's been a nice child-sized rake, but I'm selfish, I want it back! Photo © Liesl Clark

So when you look at the end-of -life options for your leaf rake, metal and bamboo rakes definitely win out.