The Tiny Government Office That Will Replace Your Ripped, Burned, and Chewed-Up Cash

iStock
iStock

Cash is designed to be sturdier than regular paper, but it isn't indestructible. A fire, flood, or hungry pet could be all it takes to reduce your emergency savings to a ruined heap of scraps. But just because a bank will no longer accept that money doesn't mean it's worthless. As Great Big Story explains in the video below, there's an entire division of the U.S. Department of Treasury dedicated to reimbursing people for damaged cash.

The Mutilated Currency Division processes roughly 23,000 cases a year, paying out about $40 million annually to replace bills that are no longer fit for circulation. It accepts money in any condition—the only requirement is that the claim must include at least 51 percent of the original note, to avoid reimbursing someone twice for the same bill.

After someone submits a claim for damaged cash, the team examines the bills with scalpels, tweezers, knives, or whatever other tools are necessary to go through the stacks and verify just how much money is there. Bills arrive in varying states: Some have been clumped together and petrified by water, charred in ovens, or chewed up by insects. In one infamous case, a farmer sent in the whole stomach of the cow that had swallowed his wallet.

Once the office processes the claim, it issues a reimbursement check for that amount, and the unusable money is officially taken out of circulation. But the U.S. government finds other uses for that ruined cash. For example, over 4 tons of old currency are mulched at a farm in Delaware every day.

You can watch the full video from Great Big Story below to learn more.

[h/t Great Big Story]

6 Protective Mask Bundles You Can Get On Sale

pinkomelet/iStock via Getty Images Plus
pinkomelet/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Daily life has changed immeasurably since the onset of COVID-19, and one of the ways people have had to adjust is by wearing protective masks out in public places, including in parks and supermarkets. These are an essential part of fighting the spread of the virus, and there are plenty of options for you depending on what you need, whether your situation calls for disposable masks to run quick errands or the more long-lasting KN95 model if you're going to work. Check out some options you can pick up on sale right now.

1. Cotton Face Masks; $20 for 4

Protective Masks with Patterns.
Triple7Deals

This four-pack of washable cotton face masks comes in tie-dye, kids patterns, and even a series of mustache patterns, so you can do your part to mask germs without also covering your personality.

Buy it: $20 for four (50 percent off)

2. CE- and FDA-Approved KN95 Mask; $50 for 10

A woman putting on a protective mask.
BetaFresh

You’ve likely heard about the N95 face mask and its important role in keeping frontline workers safe. Now, you can get a similar model for yourself. The KN95 has a dual particle layer, which can protect you from 99 percent of particles in the air and those around you from 70 percent of the particles you exhale. Nose clips and ear straps provide security and comfort, giving you some much-needed peace of mind.

Buy it: $50 for 10 (50 percent off)

3. Three-Ply Masks; $13 for 10

Woman wearing a three-ply protective mask.
XtremeTime

These three-ply, non-medical, non-woven face masks provide a moisture-proof layer against your face with strong filtering to keep you and everyone around you safe. The middle layer filters non-oily particles in the air and the outer layer works to block visible objects, like droplets.

Buy it: $13 for 10 (50 percent off)

4. Disposable masks; $44 for 50

A batch of disposable masks.
Odash, Inc.

If the thought of reusing the same mask from one outing to the next makes you feel uneasy, there’s a disposable option that doesn’t compromise quality; in fact, it uses the same three-layered and non-woven protection as other masks to keep you safe from airborne particles. Each mask in this pack of 50 can be worn safely for up to 10 hours. Once you're done, safely dispose of it and start your next outing with a new one.

Buy it: $44 for 50 (41 percent off)

5. Polyester Masks; $22 for 5

Polyester protective masks.
Triple7Deals

These masks are a blend of 95 percent polyester and 5 percent spandex, and they work to block particles from spreading in the air. And because they're easily compressed, they can travel with you in your bag or pocket, whether you're going to work or out to the store.

Buy it: $22 for five (56 percent off)

6. Mask Protector Cases; $15 for 3

Protective mask case.
Triple7Deals

You're going to need to have a stash of masks on hand for the foreseeable future, so it's a good idea to protect the ones you’ve got. This face mask protector case is waterproof and dust-proof to preserve your mask as long as possible.

Buy it: $15 for three (50 percent off)

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

Mental Floss Is Up for a Webby Award—Here’s How to Help Us Win!

This woman doesn't work for us, but she sure is happy about our Webby Award nomination!
This woman doesn't work for us, but she sure is happy about our Webby Award nomination!
Andrea Piacquadio, Pexels

The writers, editors, videographers, tech whizzes, and everybody else on the Mental Floss team began today like any other: guzzling coffee by the gallon, eager to deliver a blend of zany and informative content straight to the brains of our readers. By mid-morning, our makeshift home offices were buzzing with a heightened, electric energy—because we’d just been nominated for a Webby Award, and we’re really excited about it.

The International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences (IADAS) has included Mental Floss in the “Weird” general website category, which highlights sites “that reflect a fresh perspective in thought and action strong enough to start a revolution, change a behavior pattern, or advance old thinking lodged in bad habits, or that are just plain weird.”

Basically, there are two winners for each category. The Webby Award is chosen by IADAS members like Arianna Huffington, Monica Lewinsky, Darren Aronofsky, and representatives from just about every other industry out there. The IADAS has honored Mental Floss with two Webby Awards in the past; the website won one in 2013 for best cultural blog, and John Green nabbed another in 2015 for being the much-beloved host of our YouTube channel.

The Webby People’s Voice Award, on the other hand, is voted on by the public. So if you think Mental Floss embodies any (or all) of the aforementioned criteria for Best Weird General Website, you can help us win a People’s Voice Award by voting here. We’re up against some steep competition, including Brand Name Pencils, the world’s largest collection of vintage brand-name pencils, and Amazon Dating, a completely fake dating site modeled after Amazon’s homepage.

Voting is open through Thursday, May 7, and the winners will be announced on Tuesday, May 19, before a special online celebration called “Webbys From Home” that’ll showcase some of the internet’s best content from the past year.

You can explore all the nominees and vote in other categories here.