These days, we have hacks and shortcuts for pretty much anything you can think of, like how to keep your colored laundry from running onto other clothes or how to get a pesky ring off your finger. Not only that but, if there’s something you just can’t figure out, the answer you need is usually only a quick Google search away. So, how did people solve their problems before they had the internet at their disposal?

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Gallagher LTD/The New York Public Library

You might be surprised to hear that, at one point, a company by the name of Gallagher LTD actually gave this type of useful information to their customers on cards included in their packages. These cards were recently digitized by the New York Public Library and, while you might wonder what compelled some people to come up with these hacks in the first place, you just might learn something useful once you read them.

Making A Homemade Fire Extinguisher

A fire extinguisher is something none of us would ever want to find ourselves without in the event of a fire, but have you ever thought about what they did before they were invented? Sure, there’s always bucket after bucket of water or a hose, but getting either of those things quickly isn’t always easy.

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Gallagher LTD/The New York Public Library

Back in the day, they solved this problem by mixing water with salt and sal-ammoniac in a glass bottle, and essentially chucking the entire thing into the flames like a fire-fighting grenade.

Distinguishing Butter From Margarine

Apparently they knew butter was where it’s at even over 100 years ago—so much so that they even came up with a test to help you figure out if you were being served the real deal.

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They apparently found that burning margarine on a piece of paper smells pretty unpleasant—as one might expect, because margarine is unpleasant—while butter gives off a less offensive aroma. It might not be a great idea to test this one out at a friend’s dinner table, but figuring out which they’d serve you definitely might give you an idea of how much they value your friendship.

Measuring With Coins

Most of us don’t usually have a ruler in our vicinity at any given time, and it can be tough to even find one in our homes. Don’t worry, though—for simple measurements, all you’ll need is a few coins. Well, as long as they’re certain types of coins.

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Gallagher LTD/The New York Public Library

Halfpennies and sixpence clearly aren’t used anymore and you’d be more like to find an actual ruler than either of those, but knowing how wide a certain coin is can help you measure something on the fly.

Painting With Less Mess

This is one trick that’ll make you wonder how you’ve never heard about it before. Whether it’s a piece of cardboard or paper, it can be the difference between your hands being clean or covered in paint at the end of a paint job.

Just put it before the end of your brush to stop the messy paint from spilling over the end of your brush. Even better is that you can just toss it when you’re done instead of worrying about cleaning one more thing along with your dirty brushes.

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Gallagher LTD/The New York Public Library

Predicting the Weather

These days, it seems as if even weather men can’t tell us what’s really going on in the skies. There are lots of ways people try to predict when they think rain is coming—maybe they say their hip swells or their dog always barks like crazy all day before a storm—but there’s apparently another test you can try.

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Gallagher LTD/The New York Public Library

You should look out onto the horizon in the morning and try to spot a small, distant cloud. If it gets bigger and changes shape as it moves, it probably means rain is on the way. If it gets smaller and breaks up, the sun should stay out.

There’s another way to predict rain for when you’re out camping. Just build a fire and see what happens to the smoke—if it seems to swirl around instead of floating upwards, this is a sign of low pressure that means rain is on its way.

Removing A Splinter

Splinters are not only painful, but they’re usually pretty hard to get out without basically carving out a hole in your own finger with tweezers. Could this 100-year-old trick be what saves us all? You just need a wide-mouthed bottle or jar filled nearly to the top with hot water. Suction the part of your hand with the splinter over the opening of the container and let it do its magic—the combination of the pressure from the suction and the steam from the hot water will make the splinter pop right out.

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Gallagher LTD/The New York Public Library

Another simple trick is to make a paste of water and baking soda, and then apply that mixture to the splintered area. Wrap it in a bandage and let it sit for 24 hours, and the splinter should pop out of your skin by them, at least enough so you can use tweezers to pull it out.

Transporting Cut Flowers

You know that green, styrofoam-like material that people often use to arrange bunches of fresh flowers? Once upon a time, potatoes are what people used to do that job.

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Gallagher LTD/The New York Public Library

Though they still need to be supported to prevent them from falling over, this method is said to make cut flowers stay fresh for around a week.

Cleaning Up Broken Glass

Everyone breaks the occasional cup or plate but, no matter what it is, the cleanup is never a pleasant process. To make it a little easier, just grab a piece of bread and use it to capture the tiniest of glass shards.

You can just throw the glass and the bread away when you’re done instead of using a dustpan or vacuum cleaner that might end up spreading pieces that didn’t get picked up. You can also get the same result using a rag.

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Gallagher LTD/The New York Public Library

Getting Out Ink Stains

We can say with a fair amount of confidence that there aren’t many people who use handkerchiefs these days, but this method for removing ink stains is a good one. Not to mention that milk is something that most people either have on hand or have easy access to in a pinch.

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Gallagher LTD/The New York Public Library

You can also get ink out of fabric by using rubbing alcohol or pure acetone applied to the stained area with a q-tip.

No More Foggy Glasses

Apparently the secret to fog-proof glasses has been sitting in our kitchens all along. 

As the tip says, washing eyeglasses with dish soap is said to leave behind a residue that will prevent them from getting foggy in the bathroom, while standing over a boiling pot of water, or after opening a hot dishwasher.

Finding A Gas Leak

Can you say genius? Gas leaks are not only annoying but they can also become dangerous. It’s not always easy to find out where within a pipe they’re coming from without professional help, though, so this tip makes for an easy solution for everyone.

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Gallagher LTD/The New York Public Library

We’re not quite sure what “strong soap” is, but we’d bet you could use a light coat of shaving cream in its place.

Preventing Colors From Running During In the Laundry

Most of us probably take care to separate white clothes from anything darker when we do our laundry, but the occasional dark piece can slip in and ruin anything too light.

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Gallagher LTD/The New York Public Library

If you’re feeling brave the next time you run a load, try soaking your dark or bright colored clothing in salt water for a day to prevent bleeding colors. Oh, and let us know if it doesn’t work so we can spare our wardrobes.

Lighting A Match In The Wind

Have you ever been on a camping trip and found yourself on your fifth attempt at lighting a match? 

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Gallagher LTD/The New York Public Library

To solve the issue, the tip says to cut thin shavings near the “striking end.” The shavings will light first, the flame is stronger, and there is a better chance of lighting the whole match.

Though some of these tips are outdated, some carry some great advice. Who knew we could actually see through our glasses while making pasta just by using dish soap?