DIY For Beginners

Happy New Year! If one of your resolutions is to make more and buy less (well, buy less finished stuffs and more ingredients, that is), this is the post for you—especially if you’re super new to this whole DIY thing. I’m going to walk you through which ingredients to get, the basic concepts you should know, the projects you should do first, and where to go from there. Sound good? Cool!

Massage oil, body butter, and lip balm are all made entirely from oil soluble ingredients, so they're nice and easy.

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A Quick Guide to Buying Your First Essential Oils

So, you’re getting into making your own body products and household cleaners. You’ve found a supplier, you’ve found their essential oils section… and whoa. There are hundreds. And they all sound amazing. The reviews rave about how this one cured their epilepsy and that one healed a 2′ long scar. The descriptions promise calming, healing, anti-bacterial cleansing, and to solve all your problems. And they come in such tiny bottles that you start filling up your cart with little $2–$10 bottles… and before you know it, you’ve got $400 of essential oils sitting in an online shopping cart, and you have no idea what you’ve gotten yourself into.

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I’ve been there, and I hope I can help. Here’s a quick guide to buying your first essential oils. The reasons you’re buying them, the things you’ll use them for, and which ones will give you the most bang for your buck.

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DIY Habits You Should Get Into

As much as I have resisted the idea, a lot of my assorted DIY-ing is scientific-ish. Drat. My high school science teacher was right (though I have never bothered to balance the equation of surplus electrons for anything I have ever made, and I can safely say I never will). Anyhow, it turns out there are several things I was told I should do that I didn’t do in the beginning, and I now wish I had. So; here are a few habits you should get into if you are making things. They may seem like a bit of a bother if you love to just dive headfirst into things as I do, but I promise you’ll see their merit quite quickly.

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A Quick Guide to Solubility

Let me preface this by saying I am no scientist, and this guide is definitely a quick one (and based very much on personal experience). I took 12th grade chemistry, and that’s it—and that was a while ago. I did, however, convince my brilliant friend Adrian to proofread this guide, and since he’s working towards his PhD in chemistry, I’m pretty sure nothing in here is outright wrong (and it if is, it’s my fault).

One of the most important things you should consider when you’re experimenting with your various DIY projects is solubility.

There’s a pretty wide spectrum of solubility, but the main ones we’re concerned with are:

  1. Water Soluble (water, some botanical extracts)
  2. Oil Soluble (oils, butters, essential oils)
  3. Insoluble (clays, micas, oxides)

Most of the ingredients you use will fall into one of these categories (it is also fully possible for something to be only slightly soluble). So, before you start devising any exciting concoctions, make sure you know the solubility of each ingredient.

Massage oil, body butter, and lip balm are all made entirely from oil soluble ingredients, so they're nice and easy.

Massage oil, body butter, and lip balm are all made entirely from oil soluble ingredients, so they’re nice and easy.

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Why You Should Give The Metric System a Chance

Canada, for all of its wonderful traits, is a wee bit confused in the measurement department. We officially switched over to the metric system in the 1970’s, but we did a pretty half-assed job of it. We measure distances in kilometers, and temperature in Celsius, but our stoves are in Fahrenheit, and the great majority of our grocery stores advertise prices in cost per pound.

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It wasn’t until I went to Australia, where they are 100% metric, that I realized how haphazardly we bounce between the systems. Anyhow, between my love of cooking (most of my cookbooks are American or British, and therefore Imperial… though 2 different versions of Imperial…) and my love of travel and common sense, I know both systems quite well, and I can tell you without a moment’s of hesitation that I prefer the metric system.

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