Plastic wrap is an incredibly useful invention. What did people use to chill their pie crusts and cover their leftovers before plastic wrap came around? Of course, it does have one small flaw. The product works so well because it is designed to be incredibly sticky. Unfortunately, it frequently ends up sticking to itself long before it can stick to the container you want it to cover. It feels like half the time you pull out a sheet of the paper-thin plastic to put over the top of resting pie dough or potato salad, it ends up transforming from a neat sheet to a useless, sticky ball that must be carefully pried apart to be put to use. Luckily there’s a way to make plastic wrap less frustrating—and all you need to do is change where you store it.
While most of us store our plastic wrap in a drawer next to the aluminum foil, parchment paper, and stockpile of Stasher reusable silicone bags. However, if you want plastic wrap to be even more useful, try sticking it next to the ice cream and pork chops in the freezer. Really!
According to The Kitchn, plastic wrap is made of thin sheets of polyethylene combined with a few extra adhesives. When polyethylene is chilled, it temporarily loses some of its stickiness, making it easier to wrangle on to a bowl of leftovers. Why chilling plastic wrap makes it less sticky is thanks to science, of course. The cool air in a freezer helps eliminate some of the static electricity that makes the plastic wrap stick to itself. It will return to room temperature in a matter of seconds, so it can stick to the bowl and not itself.
To get even more technical, the change in climate from drawer to freezer also makes the polyethylene change on a molecular level. "The adhesion between pieces of plastic may be driven by the molecules in the surface rearranging themselves to form weak chemical bonds," Dr. Chad Orzel, Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Union College, explained to TODAY Food. "And the lower temperature may inhibit that process a bit."
Chilling plastic wrap doesn’t take long, so if you can’t permanently spare the freezer storage space, just put the plastic wrap in to chill about 15 minutes before you need to start wrapping up your leftovers.