How to shake cinnamon from a container without getting it on your hands

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If you want to get cinnamon out of the container it comes in, there is a simple way to do it: just turn the container upside down. The cinnamon falls out, and it never gets on your hands.

When I was a kid, I learned how to shake the cinnamon out of its container in the usual way, by turning the container upside down. And then one day I saw someone else doing it the easy way. He didn’t tell me about it; he just did it. It took me a few seconds to realize what was going on, and then I felt stupid for not having seen it before.

It is not obvious why turning a container upside down does not put cinnamon on your hands. In fact, it is not obvious that it works at all: after all, what holds the cinnamon in? We are so used to getting things wrong that when something like this works, we assume something must be holding it up there. But what could that thing be? If you stick your hand in there, you will discover nothing supporting it—not even air.

But if you try that with flour or sugar or salt, your hand will go right through them. With those things, you can feel that they are light enough that when you hold them out

If you want to shake cinnamon onto a plate without getting it all over your hands, the best way is to use two spoons. One spoon, held in your right hand, will be the ~cinnamon shaker~; the other spoon, held in your left hand, will be the ~plate cleaner~.

Tilt the container of cinnamon toward the plate cleaner and pour a stream of cinnamon into it. The stream will hit the back of the spoon and bounce forward into the air above the plate. When it lands on your plate, clean out any extra by scooping backwards with the shaker.

Lift this column of cinnamon with a fork and shake it over your dish.

Cinnamon sticks are very useful because they give you so much cinnamon without getting the powder all over your hands. Usually, you put a stick in a jar and then you can use it to take out however much you want. But if you’re lazy, or if there is no jar handy, you can shake it out of the container as well.

But if you shake it too hard, the cinnamon will fly out into the air and get all over your hands. So first, shake gently for a while. If that doesn’t work, grab some newspaper and roll it up. Put the cinnamon stick inside and then shake gently again. The newspaper will catch the cinnamon so it won’t get all over your hands.

To get the cinnamon out of a container, always shake it over the sink. It’s not necessary to hold the container under the faucet; just give it a quick shake and most of the cinnamon will fall right out.

The first, and easiest, way to sprinkle cinnamon from a jar is to pour it into a strainer that fits in the mouth of the jar.

Tilt the jar until all the cinnamon has run out.  Then remove the strainer and shake out what remains.

This method works because gravity pulls the cinnamon out of the jar through a narrow opening. Gravity is stronger than static cling, so it wins.

The second, more interesting method, also relies on gravity but adds some additional steps to improve things. Again, put a strainer inside the opening of your container. But this time, before you pour in the cinnamon, tilt both the container and strainer and carefully hold them with your hand so that your fingers are under and behind the strainer. Pour in just enough cinnamon to cover the bottom of the container and start flowing over its edge. Quickly flip everything over and put it down on a table or other flat surface before any more falls out. Now lean over it, pressing down with one hand while you pull up on the lid with your other hand. When all of the cinnamon has fallen into your hand, remove both of them from underneath (the lid may help to do this), then separate your hands and shake them hard to get all

Place the container of cinnamon on a smooth countertop, preferably white. Hold the container upright and give it a gentle shake. The cinnamon will not fall out.

The reason is that the cinnamon sticks to itself, with fine fibers of gluten connecting every piece to every other. A strand as thin as a hair will support twenty pounds without breaking. And when a piece of cinnamon is glued to the container’s sides, it pulls on all the pieces around it, which pull on the pieces around them, and so on in a fractal pattern until the whole containerful is resisting your efforts to make it budge.

Trying to get a spoon into the jar is even harder; by then the strands have turned into rigid rods. If you try to crush one, you’ll find that the rod actually holds together for quite some distance, rather like a spider’s webbing.

Likewise, if you try to scoop up some cinnamon with your fingers or a spatula, you will discover that you are only picking up a small portion of what is in there; the rest has re-formed into an impenetrable mass.

And this is why “cinnamon scoops” are basically impossible: they can’t pick up enough cinnamon to make them worth while.

When the bottle is turned over, the liquid within flows to the bottom. The cinnamon sticks float on top of the liquid.

The first thing to try is to shake the bottle a little harder. This will cause more cinnamon sticks to rise above the surface of the cinnamon extract. However, if you shake it too hard, some of the liquid may splash out of the bottle, which will result in an even bigger mess.

The second thing to try is shaking the container up and down rather than side-to-side. This will cause any long cinnamon sticks to sink deep into the liquid, causing them to be much easier to pick up with your fingers. It also causes many short cinnamon sticks to rise above the surface of the liquid, increasing your chances that when you pull out one stick another will be stuck to it.”

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