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drawing of a hand lighting a match

7 Life Hacks That Are Useful Even 100 Years Later

Vital wisdom never expires as these tips will confirm.

That life requires some cleverness has been known forever. Fables, advice given by parents and grandparents, common sayings and other examples of popular knowledge offer proof. Some kind of effort from a generation ago will help to teach us to move on, to do better in life, to overcome problems, and to learn ahead of time that we’re “one step ahead”.

These seven life hacks all share the fact that they were announced more than 100 years ago, early in the 20th century, when a tobacco company had them inserted into cigarette packets as part of a national advertising campaign.

The New York Public Library recently digitized these ads as part of the George Arents Collection, and that’s why we have access to them today. Surprisingly, despite all the time that’s elapsed, their validity and value have remained intact.

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 will pull down the flesh and steam will soon draw out the splinter.


How to light a match in the wind.

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 stronger, and has a better chance.


How to tell the points of a compass with a watch.

To determine the points of the compass by means of your watch, point the hour hand at the sun and lay a piece of wire, or a blade of grass crosswise between the hour hand and the figure twelve. The end of the wire between the twelve and the hour hand points due south.


How to carry a heavy jug.

The picture gives a useful hint on carrying a heavy jug. The correct way to hold the jug is shown in the right-hand sketch. This prevents the weight from pulling the jug down and so spilling what it contains, as is likely to happen if carried the other way.


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.


How to make corks fit.

It may happen that the cork is slightly too large for the bottle you wish to fit. Do not pare cork down with a knife; a better method is shown in picture. Roll cork under sole of foot, exerting a steady pressure. The will be found to reduce size of cork without injuring the smooth surface.


How to cool wine without ice.

If no ice is available for cooling wine, a good method is to wrap the bottle in flannel and place it in a crock beneath the cold water tap. Allow the water to run over it, as shown in the picture and in about ten minutes the wine will be cool and ready for the table.


drawing of potatoes being boiled with written instructions


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