Well, I’ve been making some neat products (and some great messes) over the last few years with my beloved DIY products. In the process, I’ve figured out that there are two categories of equipment; things that you can share between your kitchen and food prep life, and things you cannot. There are also things that can be shared, but are a huge pain in the backside to clean once they’ve crossed into the DIY world. So, I thought I’d warn you with a list of things I learned the hard way.
Things you definitely want a dedicated DIY version of
- A coffee grinder—these things are amazing for making any kind of make-up; mincing herbs for soap, salts, and scrubs; blitzing titanium dioxide for dissolving into soap; and anything else that requires a lot of finicky mixing or annoying chopping. You won’t regret buying one, I promise. I have a great one from Krups that’s been going strong for years now—I’d highly recommend it.
- A soaping pot—honestly, you could probably use a pot you make food in without thorough cleanings between switching uses, but I like having a dedicated soaping pot so I can let oils come to room temperature overnight and still have a pot to make pasta in if I happen to need one that evening.
- A secondary soaping pot/bowl—just like the pot, you could use a kitchen bowl that you cook with if you want, but I like having a set of soap only ones. I got mine at a rummage sale for a couple dollars.
- Soaping thermometers—mostly because few people have kitchen thermometers that’ll measure the right temperature (meat thermometers start too high). Honestly, though, I have stopped using soaping thermometers and just soap at room temperature.
- A chopping knife—you’ll want a dedicated knife anyways, but as soon as you introduce beeswax into the equation you’ll be very, very glad you don’t have to get that blade back to 100% in an instant. Just be sure the DIY knife you get is full-tang (aka super sturdy) so it can stand up to chunky stuff like beeswax.
- A chopping board—there’s no safety reason for having a dedicated one, but as with the knife it’s nice not worrying about getting all the beeswax off it.
- A silicone spatula—mostly for soaping, but also handy for stirring and scraping things that contain lots of essential oils that would not taste very nice in your next batch of cookies. (Honestly, four years after writing this… all my spatulas do double duty in soaping/diy projects and cooking. It’s fine.)
- A dedicated, square-edged soap mould/trough—the square edges make your soaps look awesome, and if you use the right dimensions, you can calculate exactly how much mould you need for exactly how much soap.
- An immersion blender, for tracing your soap in under an hour. (Again, four years after writing this… you don’t need two immersion blenders. You can get that one clean enough to use it for both food and soap.)
Things that can share kitchen & DIY duties
- Metal and glass measuring cups and spoons—they’re non-porous, so they can be shared pretty easily assuming you give them a good scrub by hand to remove any residue. I have a substantial collection of Pyrex 1-cup measuring cups that I use all the time for everything from baking to melting lip balm ingredients together.
- Digital scale—if you’re not using a scale for both cooking and DIY, you really should be. I have two, but you only need one. For tips on what to look for and links to the ones I’m currently using, click here. For a quick video on how to use a scale, click here.
- Tiny bowls—I have ton of wee bowls like these ones. I use them for all kinds of smaller projects (like lipsticks) and blending up face masks.
- Thin, flexible spatulas—Specifically these ones from NorPro. I have about 20. They’re amazing. The thin edge means you can get pretty much everything out of your pot/bowl/measuring cup, and they’re flexible and dexterous enough to really mash around small amounts of whatever it is you’re working with.
Other DIY things you should have
- A variety of mason jars in different sizes—wonderful for storing creations and decanting ingredients.
- Little tins—for smaller creations.
- A stash of sturdy (read: metal) spoons—for scooping butters out of tubs and spooning out powdery ingredients.