When you have a bad day, the saying often goes, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Contrary to this negative connotation, lemons do actually bestow many positive uses.
Lemons are identified by their pungent, sour taste and smell. This fruit is not just for seasoning food or flavoring drinks, or as a type of air freshener or dish soap fragrance. In fact, lemons have quite a few practical, everyday uses that may add some vigor to your Paleo lifestyle.
Main components found in lemons include citric acid, malic acid and vitamin C. Citric acid and malic acid are the most abundant acids found in lemons, although there are many other acids present, and they are responsible for giving lemons their sour taste.
One of the great things about lemons is that regardless of the time of year, you’ll typically be able to find fresh lemons available. They also have a fairly long shelf life. Lemons can be kept at room temperature, out of the sunlight for about a week; and in the refrigerator for up to a month. When selecting your lemons, make sure to look for those with thinner peels, because thicker peeled lemons tend to be less juicy.
Here are 10 ways lemons can give back to your life:
1. Deodorize garbage disposal
The next time you have lemon peels to dispose of, try throwing them down your garbage disposal instead of in the trash. In just seconds, your smelly garbage disposal will turn into citrus bliss. Make sure you cut the peels small enough to avoid any technical difficulties. Adding some baking soda will also help to curb any odors.
2. Sanitize cutting board
Cutting boards are unfortunately not perfect, especially if they are made of wood, and cleaning them can be tough since they are not recommended to go into the dishwasher.
Every month or so (maybe even sooner depending on how much use you are getting out of your cutting board) it’s a good idea to give your cutting board a bath. To do this, cut a lemon in half and use this to give your cutting board a scrub down. It’s also helpful to put some salt on the board before you start in with the lemon action. Rinse with hot water when you’re done and you are good to go with a sanitized and food residue-free cutting board.
3. Cleans stainless steel
It may take some extra elbow grease compared to chemical cleaners, but using lemon juice is safer and cheaper. Lemons are highly acidic and have a low pH value, which will help get rid of hard water stains on stainless steel (ironic, right?).
Squeeze 2-4 lemons into hot water. Take a cloth and soak it into the lemon water mixture, and then scrub your stainless steel appliance until it shines through like new. Rinse with water when you are finished.
4. Cleans soap scum and water stains on shower doors
Breaking down soap scum is another cool thing citric acid can do. Lemon juice and lemon oil are great for cleaning your shower. Use a brush or a cloth to coat the areas you would like to clean, let it sit for a while, scrub out the dirt, and rinse clean with hot water.
5. Removes odors from other foods on your hands
Getting your hands dirty is all part of being in the kitchen. After you cut some garlic or onion, or handle some shrimp or tuna, your hands may smell like they need a serious cleaning and water doesn’t always cut it on its own. It doesn’t take much lemon juice to get rid of the strong odor; just rub a small amount onto your smelly hands.
To reduce any harshness to the skin, you can dilute some lemon juice with water before applying it. Definitely rinse your hands with water after this one. Be aware if you have dry skin that applying lemon juice may not help the situation, so make sure to moisturize your skin when using this Paleo remedy.
6. Lighten sun spots, for skin toning
Staying out in the sun may leave you sunburned, but sometimes it can just leave behind sunspots. Lemons are high in vitamin C and citrus flavonoids, which both help to reduce the melanin production in your skin. Lemon juice alone is a little harsh on the skin, although you can rub a lemon slice directly onto your sun spots.
Mix 1-2 teaspoons of honey (to add moisture and to take away some of the bite) to 1-2 slices of lemon juice, and apply it to your sunspots for at least 20 minutes to get a lighter skin tone. Never apply immediately before or after sun exposure. Lemons also exfoliate dead skin, which can help clear out your sunspots.
7. Bug bite itch relief
The First Century Greek physician Dioscorides was known to prescribe lemon balm for scorpion or animal bites. The juicy, citrusy, pulpy fruit has antibacterial properties which can bring relief to your pesky mosquito bites as well as other bug bites. Apply some lemon juice to the itchy areas (warning: be careful, as it may sting!) or try rubbing the peel directly onto the bite. Beware that using too much may irritate your skin.
8. Soothe a sore throat
Sore throats can be a pain in the neck (literally), especially if you have to talk to people on a daily basis. Instead of purchasing lozenges and over-the-counter syrups right off the bat, try using the juice from half of a lemon and a small amount of water, and gargle it over a sink. The citric acid in the lemon water will help to break down the mucus causing the soreness, as well as soothe the pain and inflammation.
(Read: 7 Natural Sore Throat Remedies)
9. Get rid of dandruff
If dandruff is getting in the way of your good looks, try using lemon juice to help fight this fashion don’t. Before you get in the shower, use the juice from a few slices of lemon and massage it into your scalp.
Citric acid attacks dandruff from the roots of your hair follicles. Mixing coconut oil with lemon juice and massaging it into the scalp may help to moisturize your scalp as well as remove your dandruff.
10. Boosts immune system, aids digestion, and reduces inflammation
Not only did Dioscorides use lemons for bug bites, he also recommended lemons to the delicate and weak as a digestive aid, to calm people’s nerves and to counter depression. Drinking a glass of lemon water with a meal, or eating preserved lemons can help to reduce inflammation and swelling in your joints.
Vitamin C is also a key element in lemons that will help combat a cold or the flu. They also contain potassium, which stimulates brain and nervous system functions to help control your blood pressure.
(Read This Next: 5 Ways a Paleo Diet Can Help with Depression)