While we typically associate chalk with blackboards and sidewalks, it turns out that these celebrated art supplies are much more versatile than most people imagine. Chalk is made from calcium carbonate, and it's an effective absorbent, drying agent, building material and lubricant. So if you're lucky enough to have a craft cupboard well stocked with colored chalk, consider grabbing a few pieces for your next home improvement project.
Remove Icky Stains
Ring around the collar happens to most every garment given enough time, but you can remove those embarrassing stains with simple sidewalk chalk. Just thoroughly rub stained fabric with chalk, and allow the collar to absorb the carbonate for 10-20 minutes before laundering the shirt normally.
Freshen Up Your Smelly Laundry Basket
Hampers and laundry baskets are ground zero for bacteria that cause sweaty smells. But the calcium carbonate in chalk will absorb moisture before it has time to mildew and emit moldy odors. Place several pieces of chalk in an open plastic bag before laying it at the bottom of your laundry basket or hamper. Swap out the chalk every few weeks or whenever you smell a damp scent.
Sand a Surface Perfectly
Whether you're sanding by hand or using a mechanical sander, it's all too easy to unwittingly produce uneven surfaces by applying too much pressure. Make sure that your next home improvement project ends smoothly by using this contractor's secret: chalk! Apply a coat of chalk to surfaces before sanding. The chalk acts as a guide coat that highlights high and low spots, which ensures you'll be able to have a perfectly level and even surface.
Fix Wall Scrapes in No Time
Artisans have used chalk throughout the ages as an affordable and sturdy building material. So, why not take a tip from the savvy architects of the past? Fill in small scrapes, dings and abrasions by drawing over them with a piece of chalk that roughly matches the color of your wall.
Make Fingernails Brighter
If you've ever noticed glistening fingernails after you've spent an afternoon coloring the sidewalk with chalk, it's because chalk dust is a mild acerbic that is fine enough to buff delicate materials. Simply crush a few bits of chalk into dust and rub the powder onto the bristles of a nail brush before scrubbing beneath your fingernails. The coarse bristles remove the dirt, while the chalk leaves a fresh-looking polish on your nails.
Keep Ants Away
Just as chalk can polish fingernails with its acerbic properties, it can also serve as a deterrent for ants. The calcium carbonate in chalk has the consistency of ground-up seashells. Not only is it unpleasant for ants to walk across, the chemical characteristics disrupt an ant's ability to track the scent of its companions. By drawing a thick line of chalk on the ground, you can stop ants from breaching your perimeter.
Fix A Sticking Lock and Key
If you've ever worried that a crazed maniac was waiting just around the corner as you fumbled with your front door in the dead of night, it's probably time to smooth and lubricate that old lock and key. Try rubbing chalk onto the teeth of a key before pressing it into the lock. The chalk will coat the locking mechanism with a layer of fine powder, similar to graphite, that will lubricate the lock.
Nip Rust in the Bud
Your tools work hard for you, so it's only fair that we treat them well by keeping them clean and rust free. Instead of a labor-intensive process of oiling your tools to prevent rust, simply place a few pieces of chalk inside a tool box or a metal container. The chalk absorbs moisture, which means less rust on both your tool box and the expensive tools inside.
Naturally Get Rid of Warts and Blisters
Here's a secret home remedy extolled by both rock climbers and Olympic weight-lifters: You can banish blisters and warts using chalk. The calcium carbonate in chalk both dries the lesion and prevents oxygen from reaching it — effectively eliminating the wart after multiple applications over a period of time. Rub chalk into warts and blisters to alleviate pain and hasten the healing process. You'll probably have to reapply for 5-10 days depending on the severity of your affliction.
Get Rid of Grease Stains
Stains are the inevitable result when you get more dinner on your clothing than into your mouth. But if you discover that you've run out of stain remover, the carbonate in chalk will separate stains in a pinch! Crush chalk into a powder and sprinkle it over a grease or oil-based stain. Allow the chalk to set overnight before laundering normally with warm water.