You already have a deep appreciation for your slow cooker (usually called by the name of the most popular brand, the Crock-Pot) for the gloriously easy, set-it-and-forget-it meals it cooks up as if by magic while you're at the office or splayed out on the couch hungover watching House Hunters. But it turns out, everyone's favorite appliance is good for a lot more than just grub.
Check out these 10 things you can do with a slow cooker that don't involve food.
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1. Get rid of bad odors around the house
If you've used a slow cooker before, you know how it overtakes your kitchen with that delicious home-cooked smell. But if pot roast isn't your ideal scent, try filling it with water and any combo of fruits or herbs, steeping on low for a little while, and then letting it work its magic in various rooms. If you'd rather just neutralize odor, mix baking soda with water, set to low with the lid off, and allow the warm baking soda to literally pull odors from the air. [Try it]
2. Make soap
Pull a Tyler Durden without losing your mind with this simple recipe that calls for a handful of easily found ingredients, an immersion blender, and about an hour of your time. [Try it]
3. Use it as a humidifier in the winter
If you're feeling congested in the dry winter months, fill your Crock-Pot with water and a little Vicks VapoRub, place it in your bedroom, and leave it on low with the lid off through the night. Just keep it far enough away from the bed so you won't be startled by third-degree burns when you get up to pee. [Try it]
4. Make your own candles
If you're not satisfied with Yankee Candle's nauseatingly extensive catalog, create your own custom scent instead. Fill mason jars with soy wax flakes and place them inside your Crock-Pot immersed in water, then add color and scent to each and allow them to blend as the whole batch warms. Add a wick as it's cooling down and you're all set. [Try it]
5. Strip paint
To remove caked-on paint from metal hinges, knobs, or plates without passing out from noxious fumes, simply soak them with a little bit of liquid soap on low. [Try it]
6. Make moisturizing lotion bars
For the scaly-skinned amongst us, these dry lotion bars will keep you from shedding like a reptile in the winter. To make them you'll need a crock pot liner, beeswax pellets, shea butter, coconut oil, vitamin E oil, and whatever scented essential oils you dig. [Try it]
7. Make lip balm
If you're tired of replacing all the tubes of Chapstick you constantly lose, keep a bountiful supply of the good stuff on hand by making it yourself. All it takes is some beeswax, coconut oil, almond oil, and peppermint—and voila! You're a regular Burt's Bees. [Try it]
8. Infuse your own oils
Oils are a key ingredient not just for cooking, but also for all those natural products you've been making in your crock pot (lotion bars, anyone?) But rather than drop a lot of dough on expensive aromatic or dipping oils, make your own by steeping your choice of herbs, flowers, or other flavorful organic items in a Mason jar immersed in a bath of water inside the cooker for 8-10 hours. [Try it]
9. Make all-natural sunscreen
If you're not comfortable slathering yourself in chemical-packed Coppertone, you can get the same sun-blocking power of SPF 30 with a DIY version that calls for shea butter, coconut oil, beeswax, olive oil, vitamin E, and Zinc Oxide. Plus, it's also effective in healing eczema, sunburn, and can even stop itchiness caused by bug bites. [Try it]
10. Make Play-Doh for the kids
Mix up your very own clumps of play putty by blending flour, corn starch, salt, cream of tartar, water, and oil in your slow cooker, heat for 30 minutes then ball up and add food coloring. Just make sure no one eats it. [Try it]
Joe McGauley is a senior editor at Supercompressor eagerly awaiting crock pot season.