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Lifehacks for Removing Splinters

Next time you get stuck with something small and sharp, look to these lifehacks for removing splinters.

Photo by Kaitlyn Baker on Unsplash

It sucks to get stuck with a splinter, but it happens to everybody. Most of the time, you can use tweezers to remove splinters with little difficulty. Particularly deep or large splinters, however, may require additional coaxing to get them out from under your skin. Thankfully, there are several tried-and-true methods to get rid of that pesky, stubborn splinter. Ranging from quite creative to surprisingly sensible, here are some lifehacks for removing splinters.

Baking Soda

Photo by Brian Patrick Tagalog on Unsplash

Baking soda is tried and true for a variety of lifehacks. You can make baking soda shampoo, or you can use it to remove a splinter by making a paste by mixing baking soda and water. Put a couple teaspoons of baking soda in a bowl and add drops of water until you get a thick paste consistency. Gently apply the paste to the splinter and put a band aid on it. Then, all you have to do is wait overnight and remove the band aid. The paste will dry and adhere the splinter to the band aid so it should come right out. If the splinter doesn't come out on its own, it should at least be loosened enough to where you can easily get it out with tweezers. This method is one of the most straightforward and effective, but it does take longer than some others. It's up to you to make a judgment call on how long you're willing to wait and how painful the splinter is!

Elmer's Glue

If you don't have baking soda on hand but for some reason have Elmer's glue available, it can work equally well to help you get rid of a stubborn splinter. This makes sense when you think about it: all we're doing by mixing baking soda and water is creating a paste, so Elmer's glue is just using a pre-made paste. In fact, Elmer's glue may even be an improvement over the baking soda method, as the glue dries much faster than the baking soda mixture. If you simply apply a small amount of glue to your splinter and let it dry, the glue pulls the splinter right out when you peel it off, turning your splinter removal into a 30 minute process instead of an overnight ordeal. 

Duct Tape

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

One of the things you can create with duct tape is a splinter remover. Tape is one of the easiest but less reliable lifehacks for removing splinters. While using tape often works as a pain free way to remove splinters, it is not as effective when a more stubborn splinter comes along. The method is simple: apply a small strip of duct tape to the affected area and wait a few minutes to allow the adhesive to "set." After that, all you need to do is peel the tape off in the opposite direction, and it pulls the splinter out with it. Generally speaking, the stronger the tape, the better. Scotch tape works okay, but something like duct tape will yield better results. If your strongest tape still won't remove splinters for you, then take a break and try one of the other techniques on this list.

Ichthammol Ointment

"Ichthammol" is the common name for ammonium bituminosulphonate. Why they couldn't pick an easier to pronounce common name, I do not know. What I do know is that ichthammol ointment is a very effective method to remove splinters. It's so effective, in fact, that it's not so much a lifehack as it is using an antiseptic drawing salve for its intended purpose. Although ichthammol oil is mainly intended to treat skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis, it also works wonders with splinters. Simply apply a small amount of ointment to the affected area and cover with a band aid. Forget about it for a day before removing the band aid and the splinter along with it.

Vinegar

Photo by Bárbara Montavon on Unsplash

Using vinegar to help remove splinters is extremely easy. All you have to do is pour some vinegar into a bowl (plain white vinegar is just fine) and soak the affected area for about 30 minutes. This should bring the splinter up to the top of your skin, where it can be easily plucked out with tweezers. Although this is one of the smelliest lifehacks for removing splinters, it is also one of the simplest and most pain free. The only time I don't recommend this hack is if your splinter is on your torso or somewhere else not easily submergible—unless you have enough vinegar to fill a bath tub, in which case... I still don't recommend doing it.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Using hydrogen peroxide to remove splinters is relatively similar to using vinegar because the substances work in much the same way. Most people don't have hydrogen peroxide in as large of quantities as plain white vinegar, however, so feel free to gently dab the hydrogen peroxide onto the splinter with a cotton ball or pad instead of soaking the affected area in a bowl of the stuff. Hydrogen peroxide is an effective antiseptic, which is why it should be included in your home emergency kit, but that doesn't mean you don't have to clean up your wound afterward. After you get rid of that stubborn splinter, make sure you clean the wound with an appropriate solution or antibacterial ointment and protect it all with a band aid.

Honey

Photo by Sonja Langford on Unsplash

Honey is one of those miracle ingredients that appears in all manner of lifehacks whether they're culinary or not. Lifehacks for removing splinters are no exception, as honey is unsurprisingly quite effective at the task. Simply apply a healthy dollop of the golden stuff onto your splinter and wait. The honey should gradually draw the splinter out until there's enough splinter to grab onto with your tweezers. Honey is a natural antiseptic, but just like with hydrogen peroxide, I implore you to still clean and dress your wound after drawing out the splinter.

Bread and Milk

If you like your lifehacks to be gross and smelly, then this bread and milk method is perfect for you! It is actually quite simple to create a poultice by heating a piece of bread soaked in milk in a pot on the stove. Apply the poultice to your splinter and secure it with a band aid. Leave it alone for as long as possible—overnight if you can. Remove it once the mixture is thoroughly dried, and hopefully you'll see that it pulls the splinter out with it enough for your tweezers to finish the drop. Wash your hands thoroughly after attempting this method.

Jar and Hot Water

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Many lifehacks for removing splinters aren't really so useful because of the weird ingredients they require. That's why I'm a big fan of this method, which only has one ingredient: water. All you have to do is boil some water and find a mason jar or a glass bottle or anything similar. Fill the container with the hot water and put the area with the splinter over the opening. Make sure you form a tight seal between your hand (assuming that's where the splinter is) and the lid. The pressure differential caused by the steam will apply suction to the affected area, and will draw the splinter out of your skin in short order.

Egg Shells

Photo by Caroline Attwood on Unsplash

As it dries, a cracked eggshell functions similarly to glue or tape, making it a surprisingly great tool for splinter removal. While the residue on the inside part of an eggshell is still wet, gently press the eggshell onto the splinter. After several minutes, the residue will dry, adhering to the splinter. Peel the eggshell off and the residue pulls the splinter along for the ride. This method works particularly well if you're cooking something with eggs in it. That way, you aren't wasting food just to remove splinters from your body.

Various Fruits and Vegetables

Photo by Thomas Martinsen on Unsplash

If none of the other methods on this list have worked for you, fear not. Several seasonal fruits and vegetables work well as makeshift ways to remove splinters, as well as everyday fruits and veggies. To be honest, I'm not sure exactly why they work, and I don't know what produce works best. I think the moisture and acidity or sweetness in these fruits and vegetables draws the splinter out in much the same was as another method like white vinegar or honey. Some of the best fruits and vegetables for this purpose are tomatoes, onions, potatoes, and banana peels. Cut a thin slice of any of them and apply them, sticky side down, to your splinter. Leave them for anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours or overnight before removing them. The splinter should have risen to the top, making it easy prey for your tweezers.

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