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Egging on oily raggers

Egging on oily raggers

by Frank and Muriel Newman
Week of 24 March 2014

World watchers will be well aware that people power uprisings are changing society as we know it. Less well known is the social uprising happening right here in New Zealand. Oily rag mania is sweeping through the burbs from Kaitaia to Stewart Island, as backyards and households are being transformed by people embracing an oily rag way of life!

Stacey from Dunedin has this handy repair tip. “Many service manuals are available free online.

I recently diagnosed and repaired my very geriatric F and P smart drive washing machine by finding the service manual and engaging in a bit of problem solving and DIY. The Service Manual is different to the User Manual that you get given when you buy a machine. The Service Manual is what the manufacturer produces for the repair technicians to use. It can take a bit of puzzling out to work out exactly what it’s all trying to tell you, but well worth it to save a technician call-out fee. And even if you can't repair it yourself, you're in a much better position to tell the tech what they need to know and save them some valuable time, too.”

Anne from Auckland has this cleaning tip. “I have found that if you fill a stained mug or cup with water and drop in a generous dollop of bleach and leave it to stand- it cleans the mugs beautifully after about an hour. Rinse it out and wash as normal and there is no bleach taste or smell, just a nice shiny white cup or mug.”

With winter on the way, here’s a tip from GB from Kerikeri on making fire bricks out of recycled material: “I have found that cutting the corners off the bottom of an empty one litre milk carton and packing in wet newspaper makes wonderful compressed fire bricks. As the carton fills I make holes in the sides to allow the water to escape. Compress the wet paper into the carton. These paper bricks last about two hours in a low combustion fire and about an hour in an open fire. An entire weekend Herald will almost fit into one container.”

Carol from New Plymouth writes, “If you need to keep food cold when travelling by car, here's a tried and true tip. Save the plastic bladders from empty wine casks and fill them with enough water so that they lie flat like a brick and freeze them a few days before travelling. Then pack frozen bladders on top of your food in the chilly bin and your food stays cold between destinations.”

Oily raggers have even come up with millions of ways to use egg shells. An egg shell accounts for about 10% of the weight of an egg and is about 95% calcium carbonate. It has many commercial uses, including in paper-making - to improve brightness, opacity and strength in paper (those oily raggers making their own paper may want to try adding crushed shell to their paper making recipe).

Here are some of the more common (or interesting) uses.

Use near whole egg shells to plant seedlings; crack a few holes in the bottom for drainage. Place them in an old egg carton. When the seedlings are large enough to plant out crack the shells and plant. This can add a bit of fun to a children’s garden.

Surround plants with crushed egg shells to deter slugs and snails. It acts like a barrier because these garden pests do not like crossing over sharp objects.

For those with chickens, add crushed shell to their food. The calcium in their diet helps build strong shells and give them grit to help them digest their food. The trick here is to crush the shells up in tiny pieces. Place them in a plastic bag and run-over it with a rolling pin or something similar (like the family car!).

Use as a health supplement for you and your pets. Shells are full of calcium. Crush dried egg shells into a powder and sprinkle over your food. Half an egg shell would provide the recommended daily intake for most people. Add it to dog and cat food too… they need calcium for strong bones and healthy white teeth!

Make egg candles. Remove the top from an empty shell, add a central wick then melt candle scraps into the egg. Place in an egg cup and light.

If you have a money saving tip you would like to share with everyone, please send it to us by visiting - or by writing to us at Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei.


Frank and Muriel Newman are the authors of Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ. Readers can submit their oily rag tips on-line at The book is available from bookstores and online at

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