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Why You Should Stock Up on Used Coffee Grounds Right Now

Come winter, you'll thank us.

by:
September 10, 2019
Photo by Ty Mecham

The end of summer is here, and in all seriousness, I have officially begun planning my winter moisturizing regimen. Which is to say that, in conjunction with the single, beautifully variegated green-to-red leaf I saw on the ground today, I have to accept that winter is, at the very least, lurking in the distance.

I’m decidedly not a cold weather person and prefer to spend December through February in another climate, or else, inside with my windows plastic-wrapped. But in my quest to figure out how to have the mildest winter possible, I stumbled on a piece of advice that’s clever enough to make me look forward to putting on my winter coat and boots—that is, for as long as it takes me to try out this new winterizing technique.

Okay, here goes. You know how everyone says your leftover coffee grounds are great for composting and gardening? Well it’s true, plus they’re perfect if you’re looking for natural way to scour something greasy, whether that’s a kitchen pot, or your hands after changing the oil in your car. But once winter hits (and you know it's coming!), you should be saving your coffee grounds—so that you can throw them on the icy ground.

While your leftover coffee is no replacement for rock salt (or ice melt, which are two different things), your used-up grounds are good for adding extra traction to slippery sidewalks and steps. And though one pot’s worth of grounds might not seem like enough to make a difference, you can probably amass a decent supply of useful grit after a week or so of brewing.

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Top Comment:
“Dogs, especially food motivated ones like Labs, will absolutely go after coffee grounds, which contain theobromine. Theobromine is acutely toxic for dogs, and death is almost a certainty for any dog that ingests even a small amount. I wouldn’t even put coffee grounds into my compost for the sake of my dogs!”
— Erin B.
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Like sidewalk salt or sand, the coarse texture of ground coffee provides a safer surface to walk on than slippery ice. It also happens to be an existing part of your grocery list—which means that this cold weather utility won’t cost you any extra.

I should note that some sources would like to have us believe that the coffee grounds actually help the ice melt faster, which would be amazing, but this has sadly been debunked. Still, don’t let that stop you from using your leftover coffee grounds this winter instead of throwing them directly in the trash!


Have new and interesting uses for your coffee grounds? Share them in the comments!

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Karen Lo

Written by: Karen Lo

lunch lady

10 Comments

Jennifer K. September 17, 2019
Used coffee grounds are wet. Wouldn't they just freeze to the ground and cause more problems? Or am I supposed to be drying them out?
 
Erin B. September 11, 2019
If you have dogs, or dogs living nearby, this a super dangerous idea. Dogs, especially food motivated ones like Labs, will absolutely go after coffee grounds, which contain theobromine. Theobromine is acutely toxic for dogs, and death is almost a certainty for any dog that ingests even a small amount. I wouldn’t even put coffee grounds into my compost for the sake of my dogs!
 
Smaug September 12, 2019
I don't believe that coffee grounds contain theobromine; it is a metabolic byproduct of caffeine in humans (and for all I know in dogs), but is not contained in the coffee bean.
 
Erin B. September 12, 2019
According to my vet, the combination of theobromine and caffeine are deadly to dogs and cats. I didn't fact check this, assuming my vet knows what she's talking about, but posted my comment to make others wary of this use for coffee grounds. If you've done research that shows contrary evidence then I suppose you could take a chance with this. I won't!
 
Smaug September 12, 2019
I don't know that looking it up on Wikipedia counts as research, but at any rate it doesn't contradict that the combination is dangerous, merely that coffee contains theobromine. As I said, I have no idea if dogs metabolize caffeine into theobromine or not, and I'm not suggesting that you test it out on your dog. I should think that good old sand would be a better solution to icy walkways anyway.
 
M September 10, 2019
The internet once told me to pour them in plant pots bc they're so great for gardening. I ended up with a whole lot of soil covered in mold.
 
Jennifer K. September 17, 2019
You should probably mix it in with the soil or only use a thin layer
 
Karen R. September 10, 2019
Sounds like a great idea on the surface but that would make my stairs look even worse than muddy slushy snow.
 
Gayle N. September 10, 2019
How and where do you store them?
 
Tanny M. September 10, 2019
I feed them to the worms in my kitchen worm composter as well.