Let’s talk about mini measuring spoons.

Mini measuring spoons are a super useful thing to have; they’re totally necessary when you’re making cosmetics or otherwise dealing with tiny amounts of potent ingredients. They’re also very cute 😉

From right to left; Fox Run's 4-spoon set, NorPro's 5-spoon set, and plastic gram-based scoops (1g, 0.5g, 0.1g, and 0.05g).

From right to left; Fox Run’s 4-spoon set, NorPro’s 5-spoon set, and plastic gram-based scoops (1g, 0.5g, 0.1g, and 0.05g).

You can buy mini measuring spoons based around two different measurement systems:

  • Most are extensions of the teaspoon system and come in amounts like 1/8 tsp, 1/16 tsp, 1/32tsp, and 1/64 tsp. These spoons are usually labelled with cutesy names like “tad”, “dash”, “nip”, “smidgen”, and “drop”. The dash in one spoon set may be different from the dash in another as those are obviously not real measurements. See the chart below for more details.
  • In the DIY world, you’ll often find plastic scoops that use gram measurements; that is, the weight of water each spoon would hold. Those will be labelled with amounts like 0.5g, 0.1g, and 0.05g (or cc; 1g = 1mL = 1cc when we’re talking about water). Most of the powders we work with are significantly lighter than water, so a 0.1g spoon will not weigh 0.1g of pigment or mica. These spoons are the ones you will often see labelled as a “scoop”, “big scoop”, “mini scoop”, etc. in recipes.

The teaspoon based mini measuring spoons are available from kitchen shops and Amazon quite easily, while I’ve only found the gram/cc based mini measuring spoons from online DIY suppliers.

So—what to buy?

These are the sets I’ve tried, and what the cute names translate to in terms of teaspoon measurements, as that is what I use for my recipes. I wrote Make it Up using the Fox Run set, but I ordered the NorPro set to check that one out as well, and it works! I’d recommend choosing the Fox Run or Chef Elite sets as my top picks as each spoon is half the size of the one before it. The 5-piece NorPro set would be my second choice (see the note below the table on 1/8 vs 1/12 tsp). Above all, I definitely recommend choosing a set that is metal—they are much more durable than the plastic gram-based scoops, and they won’t stain.

 Volume 1/4 tsp 1/8 tsp 1/12 tsp 1/16 tsp 1/32 tsp 1/64 tsp
 Weight of water
0.95–1.1g 0.45–0.6g 0.40–0.57g 0.25–0.35g 0.15–0.20g 0.05–0.08g
Fox Run (USA / Canada)
N/A Dash N/A Pinch Smidgen Nip
Chef Elite (USA) Tad Dash N/A Pinch Smidgen Nip
NorPro (USA / Canada)
Tad N/A Dash Pinch Smidgen Drop
Libertyware (USA / Canada) Tad N/A Dash Pinch Smidgen Drop
3-Spoon Set (USA / Canada) N/A Dash Pinch Smidgen N/A N/A
RSVP Mini Measuring Spoons N/A Dash N/A Pinch Smidgen N/A
Gram-based plastic scoops (USA / Canada) N/A N/A Large scoop/ 0.5g/ 0.5cc 2x Medium scoop / 0.2g/ 0.2cc Medium scoop/ 0.1g/ 0.1cc Small scoop/ 0.05g/ 0.05cc

You’ll notice the gram-based set of mini measuring spoons isn’t a perfect match if you compare it to the chart below (for example, 1/64 tsp should be 0.08g, but the gram spoon is just 0.05g), but I have both sets and I’ve checked, and the measurements are equivalent, even if they seem like they shouldn’t be.

1/8 tsp vs. 1/12 tsp: These are two different sizes you’ll encounter that are often labelled as a dash, and even though they are technically different, they are so, so close to one another. I did about ten measurements of each, and the two spoons have a massive amount of overlap when you account for measuring error. 1/8 tsp is technically 0.6g, 1/12 tsp technically 0.42g—that’s a pretty small difference, especially when we are talking pigments and not narcotics. Using water, I measured 1/8 tsp between 0.46–0.6g, and 1/12 tsp between 0.39–0.55g, and for our purposes, that’s pretty darn insignificant. For example, I weighed out 1/8 tsp and 1/12 tsp of sericite mica; 1/8 tsp = ~0.30g, 1/12 tsp = ~0.25g.

So, if you get a set that has a 1/12 tsp instead of a 1/8 tsp:

  • You can use the 1/12 tsp for 1/8 tsp measurements and measure a wee bit generously, and use a 1/4 tsp measure for any multiples
  • You can use two of the 1/16 tsp measures for 1/8 tsp instead
  • You can purchase a separate 1/8 tsp measuring spoon
  • Or, you can just not worry about it as it’s a fairly insignificant difference

How can I check the set I already have?

The best way to do this is by weight, and using the metric system, thanks to the easy 1g of water = 1mL of water conversion. You’ll be dealing with tiny amounts (so you’ll need a scale accurate to 0.01g), and thanks to the miniscus, you’ll get some irksome variation. Wahoo! On the plus side, the measurements are pretty small, so even though you’ll get some variation, it’s generally not enough to worry about.

Using a pipette, fill each spoon, taking care to avoid forming a miniscus (you don’t want an arched bubble top across the top of the spoon), and weigh those contents. You’ll probably get some variation as you won’t be able to get all the water out of the measuring spoon, and it’s easy to get an extra drop or two into the spoon thanks to surface tension. Repeat the measure and weigh thing a few times per spoon so you can get some sort of average. As long as you’re roughly around the numbers in the left-hand column, you’re fine.

Teaspoon volume The weight it should hold
Approximate weight you’ll probably measure
1/8 tsp 0.6g (0.6mL) 0.45–0.6g
1/12 tsp 0.42g (0.42mL) 0.40–0.57g
1/16 tsp 0.3g (0.3mL) 0.25–0.35g
1/32 tsp 0.15g (0.15mL) 0.15–0.20g
1/64 tsp 0.08g (0.08mL) 0.05–0.08g

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