To Eradicate Poison Ivy, Try Hot Water

Posted: August 04, 1993

Dear Anne and Nan: Is there any way I can get rid of poison ivy without poisoning myself in the process? - Steve

The best way to eradicate the awful stuff is to pour boiling water directly on each plant. Leave the plant there for a few days to make sure it is thoroughly dead and then, wearing protective leather gloves, either pry or dig it up. Do NOT burn. Discard the plants either in plastic trash bags or in a pile far away from the house.

If, while you are doing the boiling water trick, you come into contact with the poison ivy, run straight to the house and wash the area with vinegar. This works much better than soap and water, as the vinegar instantly dissolves and removes the oil that suspends the "poison."

Incidentally, here's a natural antidote that loggers in Vermont swear by: The leaves of Jewel weed (also known as Touch-Me-Not or Snapweed; the seed pods, when ripe, will burst open at the slightest touch), crushed and rubbed over the areas of skin that have come in contact with poison ivy.

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Dear Anne and Nan: I have a brand new enameled cast-iron sink. I chose it over stainless steel for its looks, but didn't know how hard it was going to be to keep clean. Of particular trouble is the black scratch-like marks on the sink from contact with aluminum. - Susan

Dear Susan: For an answer to your question, we called American Standard, one of the nation's largest manufacturers of enameled cast-iron products. Betty Kirkjohn of the Consumer's Assistance Department (800-223-0068) had the following suggestion, which she follows herself when necessary.

Wet the sink and sprinkle on a generous amount of scouring powder that contains bleach. Let sit for at least an hour, then rinse. At this time any marks that remain can be rubbed off with a little additional scouring powder (use a cloth or sponge).

To avoid the problem in the future, use a rubber mat on the bottom of the sink when you are washing your pots and pans. Remember to take the mat out as soon as you are through or the enamel underneath will become stained.

Dear Anne and Nan: How do I make Toll House Cookies that come out of the oven soft and stay soft?

I've varied the recipe every which way and they are still crispy. - R.D.

Add one teaspoonful of baking powder to your dry ingredients.

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