Vintage Hacks That Are Still Useful Today

From hacks for all things outdoors, how to deal with cracked eggs, to heal that awful red eye; these vintage hacks seem to have a remedy for all.

Trade cards used to be a big thing during the Victorian era. People of all ages collected and pasted them into their scrapbooks. What was so special about them, you might ask.

Gallaher’s vintage hacks

In the late 1900s, trade cards served to advertise businesses and services. The smart business owners added them to their brand items. Kind of like the little toys in the cereal boxes. Only instead of toys, they contained small cards with beautiful, colorful pictures on them. Just perfect to turn them into collectors items, and boost the sale. But one British cigarette company took it even a step further.

Trade cards used to be added to cigarette packs as stiff cards. Which kept the soft packs from crumbling. Instead of just using pretty pictures, Gallaher’s cigarettes added useful “how to” tips on the back of their cards.

The cigarette sale was booming, because everybody wanted to have the cards. While many of you will find these vintage hacks useful, most of you will certainly find them to be fun to read.

Vintage hacks for things outdoors

Do you have a garden? How about chickens? What if you want to light a fire, but it’s just too windy, you don’t have tinder to get it started? Do you collect rainwater? Here are a few tricks to use.

Purify the water in the cistern

Wouldn’t it be nice to have drinking water that tastes like fresh spring water? Some people like to catch and store rainwater for drinking, watering their garden and wash their clothes. But, stored water might not taste too fresh anymore after being stored for a while. How to get that freshness back?

“To give the freshness of spring water to water in a cistern, all that is necessary is to stir in a tablespoon full of powdered alum. After a few hours the water will be quite fresh and pure. A tablespoon or half an ounce of alum purifies from 16 to 20 gallons of water”.

vintage hacks
How to purify water

Water fountain for chicks

All birds need access to fresh and clean water. Your chicks will appreciate it by laying more eggs.

“How to make water fountain for chicks. A simple water fountain, ensuring a supply of fresh water for chickens, can be made from a pint wine bottle.

While supported by wire loops to a wooden upright as shown, the bottle is held inverted over an earthenware pan. The mouth of the bottle needs to be about half an inch above the bottom of the pan.”

Vintage hacks
How to make water fountain for chicks

Packing choice flowers

This method also works for propagating plant cuttings, like growing more rose bushes out of single rose cuttings. Potatoes contain enough moisture and nutrients to make a great rooting medium. Of course, for the plant to root successfully it will also require soil and other additional preparations.

“When sending choice flowers by post or otherwise, an excellent way to keep them from fading is to insert ends of stalks into small holes or slit cuts in a raw potato. This keeps the flowers fresh for a week or more.”

vintage hacks
How to pack choice flowers

How to grow maidenhair ferns

While maidenhair ferns make a graceful addition to your garden, it is a rather picky plant when it comes to growing them. You might end up killing a few before you are finally successful. Maybe this tip will bring your success a little sooner. It will certainly be worth it.

“The best way to treat a maidenhair fern is to stand the pot in a fancy vase with a saucer inverted at the bottom. Pour in water to the depth of about halfway up the flowerpot. Keep the fern in a cool place, and don’t allow it to get dry. Never water one of these ferns by placing it under the tap.”

vintage hacks
How to grow maidenhair ferns

Vintage hacks for lighting a fire

Be it for a campfire or grill, vintage hacks can show you how to get one started if you ran out of fire starters, or the wind gives you a hard time.

Getting a fire started without some kind of tinder or lighter fluid is impossible. This is an easy way to make some tinder out of paper that will get your fire going in no time.

“When lighting a fire it may be you have no wood to kindle the coals with. A good substitute is to use pieces of paper. Screw them into twists as the picture shows. Two or three sheets of newspaper are quite sufficient to start a judiciously built coal fire.”

vintage hacks
How to light a fire without wood

How to light a match in the wind

If you have ever tried to light a match under windy conditions you will know the difficulty of it. The wind blows out your match faster than you can light it, and you end up wasting a lot of them.

“The familiar difficulty of lighting a match in a wind can be to a great extent overcome. Carve thin shavings towards its striking end as shown in the picture. On lighting the match, the curled strips catch fire at once; the flame is stronger, and has a better chance.”

vintage hacks
How to light a match in the wind

No matches, no problem

Since Gallaher’s was a cigarette company, it is natural that it would provide vintage hacks for smokers. But, this trick can be used as a fire starter on any campfire or grill as well.

“Lighting a cigarette with a piece of ice. A very astonishing trick based upon the chemical property of the combustion of potassium on contact with water.
Place a small piece of potassium in the end of the cigarette. On touching this with a piece of ice, the resulting flame will ignite the cigarette, much to the astonishment of your friends.”

vintage hacks
Lighting a cigarette with a piece of ice

Use vintage hacks in the kitchen

Some vintage hacks can be very useful around the kitchen. Which gave house wives a good incentive to choose Gallaher’s brand.

Cracked eggs? No problem.

Eggs are so fragile. No matter how careful we are, we end up with a cracked egg. Instead of giving up on having your boiled egg for breakfast and scramble it instead, there is an easy way to salvage the problem.

“When boiling cracked eggs. To boil cracked eggs as satisfactorily as though they were undamaged, a little vinegar should be added to the water. If this is done, it will be found that none of the contents will boil out.”

vintage hacks
When boiling cracked eggs

Preserving eggs

If you have chickens, there is a good chance that you might end up with more eggs than you have use for. You can’t exactly tell chickens when to pause laying eggs. Here’s a tip on how to preserve them.

“How to preserve eggs. Eggs for preserving must be new laid, and by simply putting these into a box or tin of dry salt – burying the eggs right in the salt and keeping in a cool dry place – it is possible to preserve them for a very long period. No air whatever must be allowed to get at the shells.

vintage hacks
How to preserve eggs

A tip on boiling potatoes

I’m not sure if this works on all variety of potatoes, but you can always give it a try.

“A hint when boiling potatoes. To make potatoes dry and floury when cooked, add to water when boiling them a pinch of sugar as well as salt. When potatoes are done, water should be poured away and saucepan replaced over the fire for a short time, shaking the saucepan occasionally to ensure equal dryness of potatoes.”

vintage hacks
A hint when boiling potatoes

Cleaning bottles

Back then, there was no such thing as plastic bottles, and the glass bottles were often reused. Even today, we find some uses for glass bottles, other than throwing them into the recycle bin. Vintage hacks offer a fairly simple way to clean bottles sparkly clean on the inside.

“How to clean bottles. To clean the interior of bottles, a little sand and water should be well shaken about inside them. This will have the effect of cleansing every part, and the bottles can then be washed out and dried.”

vintage hacks
How to clean bottles

Vintage hacks for ailments

Home remedies never go out of style, and neither does the need to apply first aid. Although, it is always recommended to go and see a doctor, these vintage hacks may still aid you. Well. Except for the first one. I just added it for you to see how people dealt with it in the past.

When you get bit

When it comes to vintage hacks to apply first aid, some of them might be outdated and should not be applied in that way anymore. Please follow the guidelines to apply modern first aid on animal bites.

“How to treat bite of animal. A tight ligature should be placed round the limb between the wound and the body. Thoroughly cleanse the wound, and if there is any suspicion of madness in the attacking animal the place should be well sucked and cauterised with lunar caustic, or a white hot iron, after cutting away the surrounding flesh with a sharp clean knife. Stimulant should be given to the patient. Send for doctor.”

vintage hacks
How to treat bite of animal

Bandaging a foot

The foot seems to be the most difficult part of the body to apply a bandage. Vintage hacks on how to do this, still apply today.

“Bandage for foot. Rest injured foot on operator’s knee on a clean towel. Commence bandaging in a manner shown by the lower diagram, the bandage being bound over and around the back of foot in spiral fashion, and eventually affixed by means of safety pin, just beneath the ankle, as shown in upper illustration.”

Bandage for foot

When dealing with catarrh

I’m not so sure about the sniffing up the salt part. I prefer to just add the salt to the water instead.

“A simple cure for catarrh. Take a pinch of ordinary table salt up the nostrils, just as you would a pinch of snuff. Then gargle the mouth and throat with warm water, being careful not to swallow it. Do this each morning before and after breakfast.”

A simple cure for catarrh

Oh, those chilblains

When your skin is repeatedly exposed to cold temperatures, you’re probably familiar with chilblains. Those irritating and itchy red patches and blister on hands and feet. Here is how people used to treat it.

“How to cure chilblains. A simple and homely remedy which immediately relieves the irritation and pain caused by chilblains, is salt and apple juice. The affected parts are rubbed gently with a slice of apple dipped in common salt. A good juicy apple should be used.

How to cure chilblains

When something get’s in your eye

An eyelash, small bug, a kernel of sand, or any other tiny object that ends up in our eye is quite irritating. Vintage hacks have a quick solution to remove whatever landed in your eye. I’m not so sure about the vinegar, though.

“How to remove foreign particles from the eye. The danger of having a particle of something in the eye can be quickly got over if sweet or castor oil is dropped into corner of eye. Picture shows a ready method of allowing drop of oil fall into eye from the point of a paintbrush. If the particle is of mortar or lime, bathe eye with weak vinegar and water.”

How to remove foreign particles from the eye

Vintage hacks for easy splinter removal

Instead of poking around your skin with a pointy object, in order to get that stubborn splinter, try this hack.

“How to extract a splinter. A splinter embedded in the hand is often very painful to extract. A good way to accomplish this is to fill a wide-mouthed bottle with hot water nearly to the brim, and press affected part of hand tightly against mouth of bottle. The suction with pull down the flesh, and steam will soon draw out the splinter.”

How to extract a splinter

Hello World

Unlike other sites I don’t overload you with ads, force you to turn off ad-blocks or buy into monthly subscriptions.
But, I do need some motivation to keep doing endless research and present you the fruits of my labor that won’t just provide you with a broad spectrum of entertaining information, but is also educational in many cases. Would you buy me a cup of coffee or two to keep me going?

Some more vintage hacks

The entire collection of Gallaher’s vintage hacks is quite large and consists out of many more how-to-tips on the topics I have shown here as well as on numerous other topics. If you are interested can view them in The New York Library Digital Collections. Below, I have 3 more interesting ones for you.

If you like vintage things, you might also enjoy The macabre post-mortem photography from the Victorian era

Home made fire extinguisher

Every household should have a fire extinguisher, and if you don’t, there seems to be a trick on how to make your own. I wouldn’t count on it for larger fires, though. Unless you made a full arsenal of them.

“How to make a fire extinguisher. Dissolve one pound of salt and half a pound of sal-ammoniac in two quarts of water and bottle the liquor in thin glass bottles holding about a quart each. Should a fire break out, dash one of the bottles into the flames, and any serious outbreak will probably averted.”

How to make a fire extinguisher

Vintage hacks for weather forecasting

If you want to do some hiking or any other outdoor activity, but can’t view the weather report… Look up into the sky and forecast it the old fashioned way.

“How to judge the weather. The traveler, setting off in the early morning, will find a fairly sure guide as to the weather he is likely to encounter by watching a very small distant cloud.If the cloud grows gradually larger, then unsettled, rainy weather will probably come. But if the cloud decreases in size, the day should be a fine one.”

How to judge the weather

See the wind

Would you like to actually see the wind? This is a neat trick to make the wind visible to you.

“How to see the wind. On a dry windy day, take a long polished sheet of metal (a saw blade will do) with a perfectly straight edge. Hold this at right angles to the wind, and inclined at an angle of 45 degrees, so that the wind, in striking the saw, glances over the edge. Then sight carefully at some clearly defined object as shown, and you will see the air flowing over the saw’s edge.”

How to see the wind

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