So long as you'll always be converting numbers, you can use to_i. That 
will convert the string into an integer.

>"000000100".to_i
=> 100

Keep in mind that it will truncate the number as soon as it reaches a 
non-number. For instance:

>"00012,345,678".to_i
=> 12

If you need to keep decimals then you can use to_f. For example:

>"0001234.567".to_f
=> 1234.567
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