The Crock-Pot (or slow cooker) is a wonderful appliance for hands-off cooking, but the gentle, slow heating process can also be used for other things unrelated to food. Here are 10 other uses.
Picture: hchjjl (Shutterstock)
Many of these projects are crafty, and you might want a dedicated second slow cooker (perhaps picked up at a garage sale) for these purposes, such as the soap-making one. Others, however, you can just whip out your slow cooker to accomplish, clean, and then use for slow cooking food. It's a wonderfully multi-purpose tool.
10. Make Soap
Homemade soap is wonderful because you can customise your soap bars with the scents and ingredients you prefer. This project requires just water, olive oil, coconut oil, and lye (which you have to handle carefully). An hour in the slow cooker, though, and you've made your own soap.
9. Strip Paint
Instead of using toxic chemicals to remove paint, drag out your old and unused slow cooker and let it strip the paint off an object overnight.
8. Dye Fabric or Yarn
Dyeing fibres is easy in the slow cooker because you don't have to watch over it. The slow cooker pot acts as both a dye bath container and a heat source to help fabrics and other materials absorb the dye. Knit Picks offers instructions for dyeing yarn and folk artist Susan Hemann shows us how to dye fabric. (I heard you can also dye paper in the slow cooker, but was unable to find a tutorial for this. Feel free to experiment!)
7. Make Potpourri
If you don't have one of those small simmering potpourri things, your slow cooker can fill in for the job. After all, slow cookers are known for creating intoxicating smells as they simmer foods. This time, fill up your slow cooker with spices, fruits and other ingredients that will scent your home throughout the day. This seems particularly fitting over the holidays, as in this combination of cloves, oranges, allspice, and cinnamon at Heathers Dish.
6. Make Candles
Homemade candles make a great gift, but dealing with the wax is a pain. If you use a slow cooker, though, you'll avoid the mess of double-boiling and pouring. Just put the containers in your crockpot, fill with wax shreddings, and let the slow cooker do the work. You can also combine bits and pieces of crayons in the same manner.
5. Make Play Dough
This one's for the kids…or maybe yourself. Just as you can make bread in the slow cooker you can make play dough. Repeat Crafter Me has the instructions for doing this. You only need a few pantry items and about half an hour of "cooking" time.
4. Freshen (or De-Stink) a Room
Baking powder is a powerful weapon against bad odours and a generally stale smell. Put it in a slow cooker with some water, and you can freshen up any room of your home, even musty garages.
3. Use It as a Humidifier
An old slow cooker filled with water can add moisture to the air, much like a rice cooker can — no need for a dedicated humidifier. As Crock Pot Recipe Exchange explains, fill the pot with water three quarters of a way up and let it heat up on high. Then remove the lids and let the moisture escape into the air.
2. Clean Jewellery
Whether your jewellery is tarnished or could just use a good cleaning, your slow cooker is your friend. Make your own all-natural jeweller's pickle (an acidic solution that removes oxidation and flux from soldered metal) and clean jewellery in the slow cooker, with The Artisan Life's directions. Clinton Kelly offers a simpler formula that involves just white vinegar and salt to clean jewellery in the slow cooker.
1. Clean Animal Bones/Skulls
Finally, if you have animal skulls or bones that need cleaning, the long slow simmer of a slow cooker will work better than boiling. We're serious! Our own Vitals writer Beth Skwarecki shared this tip with us and I couldn't help but make it the top tip. Many people use animal skulls for decoration or artwork (c.f. Georgia O'Keeffe, photo above courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art via Studio 360).