road test

Get an alternative use from your everyday stuff

Coffee can grill: yay or nay?
Coffee can grill: yay or nay?

What self-respecting Brokelynite hasn’t—at some point—gone for conditioner instead of shaving cream, or for baby powder in a deodorant-less pinch? Sometimes, in a moment of need, we make do with what we have. Or we just can’t bring ourselves to pay full price for… anything. Enter AltUse, a Website of home-grown DIY wisdom and thrifty tricks turned into an enormous list of alternative uses for everyday household items. The clear, user-friendly site lets you search by item or need—by “vodka” or by “keep flowers fresh.” Old standards like baking soda, rubbing alcohol and vinegar are recurring elements, but then there’s how to make a spiffy new bulletin board from a year’s worth of cork collecting. That starts to get exciting.

Users of the site rate tips by monetary savings, ease and end-results. We had to try this ourselves, so on to the Brokelyn labs we went. But really, we just scratched the surface. Try some Altuses yourself and send us the pics.

condompopslargerecropCondom Popsicles
NYC condoms: free
Strawberry soda, beer: $1.25 – $2
Freeze Pops: $0.50/ea

In retrospect, it seems like a waste of perfectly good condoms, but if you’re flush with NYCs or have a bunch that are about to expire (tough luck), this is a viable option. Sure, they’re lined with weird chemicals (spermicide, lubricants), but those are all non-toxic… right?

We filled one condom with strawberry soda and the other with beer, stuck a couple plastic forks inside, bound the things with rubber bands and put them on ice. After a few hours, we had a cold—but extremely drippy—treat.

The pouring was easy enough, but getting the condoms off the ice turned out to be pretty awkward. On the plus side, the super-sugary strawberry soda masked any spermicidal flavor. The beersicle… tasted like a fresh frat party.

Coffee Can Grill altuse lead coffee can
10 oz Cafe Bustelo, full: $3.99
Outdoor grill: $30 – $300

This foray into aluminum cookery ran amok shortly after the match was lit, and it probably wasn’t because we used Cafe Bustelo can instead of the recommended Folgers. To go full hobo, we cooked up some liver and onions.

Step 1: Punch holes in the “bottom of the can.” Cut a “moderately sized” triangle into the top of the can. Our coffee can had a plastic top, and we were not about to mix polyurethane with fire, so off with the top.
Step 2:
Fill the can with newspaper (or pine straw) and strike a match. This is a good time to make sure you’re in a well-ventilated place. Also, remove the label. Trust us: the smoke smells like death otherwise.
Step 3ish:
Let the fire heat the can, flip it over (bottom-up), and grill the meat on the bottom. Hm. Maybe the top would have been helpful here, as the ash just flew in our faces and the “grill” went cold instantly—the meat was barely seared.
Improvised Step 4
: Put the can on the stove (or bonfire, if outside). This worked to cook the liver. We can’t speak to the chemicals we were burning along with the can, but the product tasted fine.

**Note: All prices based on Bushwick bodegas. And Craigslist.**


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