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Do conkers keep spiders away? And more conker facts

Autumn is the smashing season.

At the first sign of those prickly green cases covering the floor kids everywhere begin preparing for conker championships. While researching tips on strengthening our cheggies or obblyonkers for battle, we started to wonder what else conkers are good for. So we looked it up and debunked a few myths along the way. Check out our top six conker facts.

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conker in hand B Aldrich WTML 320x400.jpg
(Photo: B Aldrich/WTML)

1. Put conkers around your house to keep the spiders away

Unfortunately there’s no proof this is true. The story goes that conkers contain a noxious chemical that repels spiders but no-one’s ever been able to scientifically prove it. There’s hearsay that if a spider gets close to a conker it will curl its legs up and die within a day. Others say spiders will happily crawl over conkers with no ill effects at all. We’d love to know if you think it’s true.

2. Conkers can fix sprains and bruises

It is said that the horse chestnut is so named because its seeds were once used to treat ailments in horses. It has since been revealed that aescin, which can be extracted from conkers, has anti-inflammatory effects and is an effective remedy for sprains and bruises in humans.

(Photo: M Barton/WTML)
(Photo: M Barton/WTML)

3. You can make, and bake with, conker flour

The Victorians wrote recipes for making conker flour. The seeds were shelled, ground and then leached to remove bitter flavours. It’s not a common practise these days and we really can’t imagine Conker Bread week on the  Great British Bake Off. Also, if consumed in excessive quantities conkers are mildly poisonous so we’ll probably just stick to self-raising.

4. Leave conkers in your wardrobe to deter moths

If moths are munching their way through your winter wardrobe then conkers could be the answer. The horse chestnut seeds contain an aroma called triterpenoid that wards off pesky pests. Place fresh conkers in among your clothes and as they dry out they emit the moth-repelling chemical.

Find out more about UK moths

Conker Amy Lewis WTML 320x400.jpg
(Photo: A Lewis/WTML)

5. You can get clean with horse chestnut soap

Conkers contain saponins, which are soap-like chemicals that are sometimes added to shampoos and shower gels. It is thought that the Vikings, who were apparently surprisingly clean, made their soap out of soaked, crushed up conkers. We might give this one a go!

6. Conkers make great furniture for doll’s houses

Collect the shiniest conkers you can find and then carefully stick 4 pins underneath to make legs and an arc of pins around the top to create a chair back. Weave coloured wool in and out of the arc of pins and hey presto; a beautiful doll-sized chair!

There’s so much more to conkers than meets the eye.

What’ll you use yours for this autumn?

Have you spotted conkers yet?

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