Why Waste Them on French Fries? 5 Uses for a Potato That Are Unrelated to Food

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Potatoes are such a common foodstuff that we tend to take them for granted most of the time. But, we do so at great disservice to this humble yet noble tuber! Just think what a mid-19th century Irishman would think of you if he saw you paying so little homage to the spud. And where would you be without fries or chips beside that hamburger? Thinner? OK, well we lost that argument to ourselves, but we’ll make it up to, um, ourselves right quick. That’s because beyond being tasty as hell whether boiled and mashed or fried to a crisp (or made into liquor), the potato can also help us out in a variety of other, decidedly non-edible/potable related ways!

5 Potato Can Be a Pretty Good Projectile.

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Last, and of course you saw this coming, you can use a potato as a pretty good projectile. Where would drunken frat boys be without PVC pipes, hairspray, and the potato? Feasibly, not sporting police records as often, that much we’ll say for sure. And we’ll also surely say that we don’t encourage you to try this out yourself, of course (in fact, we discourage it…) but if you wanted to see how a potato can be like nature’s cannonball, well, YouTube will answer any questions you’ve got in pretty short order.

4 And Why Not Make a Lovely Dye from Those Lovely Purple Potatoes?

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You can create a deep, rich colored dye from many types of potatoes, in fact, not just the striking purple or red varieties. Even potatoes with lighter flesh can yield darker dies when you crush their skins. And the all-natural, totally safe dyes that come from potatoes can be used for everything from artwork (if potato dye painting is your thing) to hair color! Probably not the best idea to use it on clothing, though.

3 Make Fuel with Potatoes? Why Not!

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A potato (especially sweet potatoes, which are higher in sugars… duh) yields more ethanol than corn, pound for pound, thus the noble potato is a great way to make fuel-grade liquid ethanol that can be used to power all sorts of engines, or as an additive to petroleum-based gasoline! Who would have thunk it? Not the DOA under certain presidential administrations, certainly…

2 Potato Can Be Used as a Planter of Sorts.

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And once you’re done using your potato as a battery, you can use it as a planter of sorts! Potatoes retain water extremely well (it’s why they last so long), thus you can drill small holes in them an insert the stem of a plant with less liquid retention ability, and your potato will keep that green stemmed plant alive and well for… a little while. I wouldn’t try this technique with grandma’s prized orchid or anything, though.

1 Did you know that a potato can act like a battery!?

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It’s true! And almost useless outside the children’s science fair circuit, admittedly, but still pretty cool. A standard potato, I recommend a Russet, will generate a little over 1 volt of electricity when rigged up with the right electrodes thanks to the fluids inside the potato acting as electrolytes. When rigged up properly, your potato will be able to make a very weak light glow for a while! Huzzah!

What more can we ask of this wonder of nature? You can eat it, make booze out of it, make fuel from it, or even fire it out the barrel of a cannon! Yes, the potato really is one of the noblest things that ever grew underneath dirt.

Steven John is a published novelist and competitive pole vault champion. (The latter is not true.) His writing runs the gamut from speculative fiction to essays fueled by a mix of mirth and derision. He has never been to Lisbon but, statistically speaking, is probably taller than you.

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