You Need To See These Amazing 100-Year-Old Life Hacks

And they still work today!

Toni Tails
May 6, 2020 · 6 min read
image by Ulkar — purchased by the author

ife hacks have been trending on social media for the last few years. Did you know that this is not a new fad? Over 100 years ago, Gallaher’s Cigarettes printed a unique series of 100 “How to do it” cards with life hacks that still work today! ¹

Watering Plants for Lazy People

This is a life hack that will save lives. I am well-known for having a thumb that is red with the blood of a million ferns. It’s not that I don’t love plants — I do! I just forget that they need more than the carbon dioxide I throw their way every afternoon when I sing Disney karaoke.

George Arents Collection, The New York Public Library

Fill a large pail with water, and stand it a little above the level of the plants and group round or near as many plants as practical. Loosely plait two or three strands of wool together, immerse completely in water, and place one end in the pail, weighted, and touching the bottom. Rest the other end on the soil: a separate plait of wool is advisable for each pot. ³

Light it up on a Windy Day

This is a life hack that would have been helpful to me when lighting the candles for my son’s 5th birthday. Unfortunately, the wind stole all his wishes that day, but I’ll keep it in mind for birthday number 17, coming soon to a disbelieving mom near you.

George Arents Collection, The New York Public Library

The familiar difficulty of lighting a match in a wind can be, to a great extent, overcome if thin shavings are first cut on the match towards its striking end, as shown in the picture. On lighting the match, the curled strips catch fire at once; the flame is more robust and has a better chance. ³

Extinguish Fires in as Little as 45 Minutes!

This life hack might not be the most convenient in this article. By the time you whip this one up, your house will be ashes. Still, it’s good to have in a pinch when the fire extinguisher store is closed. Note that the instructions say probably.

George Arents Collection, The New York Public Library

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 or more of the bottles into the flames, and any severe outbreak will probably be averted. ³

Preserve Fresh Eggs and Impress Your Friends!

I don’t know what these so-called “fresh eggs” are. It’s probably something farmers invented in olden-times. But I bet this would work just as well with our unfresh store-bought chicken-butt nuggets! Bonus! You can use the egg shelf in your fridge to store your Cadbury Eggs!

George Arents Collection, The New York Public Library

Eggs for preserving must be newly laid, and by simply putting these into a box or tin of dry salt-burying the eggs right in the salt and keeping it in a cool, dry place — it is possible to preserve them for a very long period. No air, whatever should be allowed to get to the shell. ³

Make A Water Filter that Will Put Hair on Your Chest

I think every office should consider replacing their water jugs with this handy life hack. It would cut office gossip down to a minimum. Workers will be too busy trying to catch a drink in their paper cup to worry about what the boss said to her husband’s mother’s cousin when she thought no one was listening.

George Arents Collection, The New York Public Library

A handiest and efficacious filter can be made out of an ordinary perfectly clean zinc water pail, through the bottom of which a hole has been drilled and a small pipe fitted. The water percolates through the layers of fine and coarse sand, and clean picked gravel and stones, with which the pail is filled, filtering through to the bottom in a clear state. ³

Remove a Splinter from Power

I am looking up “little glass jars” on Amazon as we speak. I am tired of crying — I mean the kids crying every time they get a little splinter. Suctioning a cup to the hand is a life hack that sounds like good times for all involved!

George Arents Collection, The New York Public Library

Fill a wide-mouthed bottle with hot water nearly to the brim, and press affected part of hand tightly against mouth of the bottle. The suction will pull down the flesh, and steam will soon draw out the splinter.

A Brief History of Cigarette Cards

In the 1800s, cigarette manufacturers included stiff cards to help protect the product inside their flimsy paper packaging. In 1875, Allen & Ginter began printing illustrations on the cards, and they quickly became a collector’s item. Other cigarette companies soon followed suit.²

If you enjoyed these ancient life hacks, you are in luck! In 2015, the New York Public Library digitized thousands of cigarette cards. ³ You can see more at the database on the NYPL website.

Which hundred-year-old life hack will you try today?

Pull Out Long Nails

George Arents Collection, The New York Public Library

Make a Simple Gate Latch

George Arents Collection, The New York Public Library

Dry and Floury Boiled Potatoes

George Arents Collection, The New York Public Library

Detect Escaping Gas

George Arents Collection, The New York Public Library

Preserve Valuable Vases

George Arents Collection, The New York Public Library

Make a Water Fountain for Chicks

George Arents Collection, The New York Public Library

Test Your Butter

George Arents Collection, The New York Public Library

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Toni Tails

Written by

CEO of ToniTails.com | Published Author & Illustrator| Body Positive Graphic Artist | Autism Mama | Survivor of Child Sex Abuse | PTSD ADHD Queer Babe | she/her

Random Awesome

Awesome stories about Creativity, Art, Culture, Design, Pop Culture, Technology, History, and more!

Toni Tails

Written by

CEO of ToniTails.com | Published Author & Illustrator| Body Positive Graphic Artist | Autism Mama | Survivor of Child Sex Abuse | PTSD ADHD Queer Babe | she/her

Random Awesome

Awesome stories about Creativity, Art, Culture, Design, Pop Culture, Technology, History, and more!

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