Rubber bands, sometimes referred to as elastic bands, are seemingly everywhere. They are abundant in office supply rooms, junk drawers, bathrooms and women's purses. There is a good likelihood that if you searched around your home or workplace right now, you would find at least one if not several. While they are great for snapping people or binding small items, you might be surprised to learn how many other uses they have.
Several people claim to be the inventor of rubber bands. The first and most notable was a Londoner named Thomas Hancock. Hancock purportedly sliced up a rubber bottle and used the bands for garters and pant waists in 1820. A quarter of a century later, a rubber manufacturer, Stephen Perry, patented the rubber band with the intention of using it to hold papers together. Nearly a century later, Alliance Rubber founder William H. Spencer convinced Ohio paper carriers and grocers to bundle newspapers and vegetables, respectively, using the bands.
Since rubber bands were invented and marketed with the function of holding and bundling things together, this is undoubtedly the most common use. However, the options go much further than paper and produce. The next time you are carrying a covered dish to a potluck or other gathering, use two rubber bands to secure the lid to the container. Wrap them crosswise around the container to prevent spilling. You can use a rubber band in place of a chip clip or bread tie, wrapping it around a bag twisted closed. Rubber bands have more serious uses as well. They are important in dentistry, where they're used to help straighten teeth. Rubber bands have numerous uses in the field of medicine, including for obesity surgery (the rubber bands reduce the size of the stomach) and even for hemorrhoids. Rubber band ligation is the most widely used treatment for internal hemorrhoids.
Because of their ability to snugly grip many types of material, rubber bands make good tools for many practical applications. Wrap a rubber band or two around each end of your cutting board before using it. The bands will provide traction and keep the board safely in place while you chop away. Twist a rubber band around a pickle jar lid or beer bottle top before twisting it off. It will give you a better grip and protect your hand from any sharp edges.
Rubber bands can provide needed help in urgent situations, at the very least providing a temporary fix until you can get the necessary supplies. For instance, if you have a small leak in a rubber hose, wrap a rubber band securely around the area with a hole. The waterproof band will temporarily stop the leak. If you have a low-watt piece of electrical cord that has a small exposed area, wrap a rubber band over the exposure. Make sure the cord is disconnected from the power supply when you touch it.
One great way to use rubber bands is in art and craft projects. Make tie-dyed Easter eggs by dunking an egg in a light-colored dye, allowing it to dry, wrapping parts of it with rubber bands and dipping it into a darker color. Remove the bands and check out your psychedelic egg. Wrap a rubber band around the middle of a stack of papers and you have an instant book. Crisscross several large rubber bands around a corkboard or stretched canvas. Hang it on your wall and post pictures, notes or other memorabilia.