Don’t knock it ‘til you try it. Take this video, for instance: As soon as the potent oil hits the plastic, the band instantly breaks apart. No scissors (or snags) required.
After picking my jaw up from the floor, I had to do some digging—I sent the video in question over to a trusted source, and it turns out, you can’t just dribble any EO you have in your arsenal and expect the elastic to snap.
Rather, citrus oils do the trick: “I suspect it is the limonene in the essential oil that interacts with the rubber band and weakens the structure so it breaks,” says natural skin care expert Sarah Villafranco, M.D., founder of Osmia Organics. “The essential oil and the rubber are both non-polar hydrocarbons, so when they come together, some of the rubber dissolves into the oil, causing it to weaken.”
She even tested the oils on a few skinny rubber bands, herself. The verdict? Lemon and grapefruit oils acted the most quickly, followed by bergamot and spearmint. “All of those oils contain limonene in varying amounts, with orange, grapefruit, and lemon at the top of the list,” she says. “For contrast, I tested clary sage and geranium, neither of which contains limonene, and they did not degrade the rubber in the same way.”
That said, if you have orange, lemon, or grapefruit essential oils on-hand, a few drops on the wound rubber band can help it break apart in a snap. We should note: Make sure to drop the oil on the rubber band itself, not on your skin or hair. Limonene, when applied directly on the skin, is a common irritant—considering it’s strong enough to dissolve rubber when undiluted, you don’t want to saturate your skin, especially without some sort of carrier.