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Household Tips

Household Tips: Waterproofing Leather Boots

1) Remove the laces;

2) Coat boots thickly with mink oil, and let them stand overnight (under a radiator if you have one - the heat seems to help the oil soak in);

3) Wipe them off, and (ideally) repeat the process.

Recipes: Tea

Black tea - for a strong black tea, steep up to (but no more than) 5 minutes

Green tea - do not steep green tea over three minutes.

If you steep the tea too long, it will begin to develop a bitter taste.

Household Tips: Toothpaste

Mix equal amounts of baking soda and salt, and sprinkle onto a damp toothbrush.

Household Tips: Curing Cast Iron

Some of the best cast iron that I have has come from Goodwill - people buy it, use it once without curing it, wash it (probably in the dishwasher) and end up with a nasty looking mess.

1) Before using cast iron: rinse it off, and dry it on a burner. Coat it thoroughly (inside and out) with fat - solid fat is generally better than cooking oil, but I don't use shortening, and the animal fat goes into soap: I've never had trouble with liquid oil;

2) Put the pans in an oven preheated to 200 degrees, bake for an hour, and then allow them to completely cool while still in the oven. You may need to treat them more than once, and it takes quite a bit of use and oiling before they're well treated, but once they are it's like using a non-stick pan;

3) I wash my cast iron when I need to - just dry it on the stovetop and oil it well after you're done.


Household Tips: Homemade Shampoo

1) Make a paste of baking soda, and work it well into your roots and scalp.

2) Rinse with water.

3) Do thorough rinse with apple cider vinegar.

4) Rinse out the vinegar.

This avoids the oily buildup that you get with shampoo, doesn't contain the witches brew of chemicals, and doesn't need to be done every day (or so I hear - I can't bring myself to change a lifetime habit of washing my hair every day).


Household Tips: Oil Lamps

It's always good to have a couple oil lamps or lanterns and a supply of fuel around. Most people can figure out how to use an oil lamp on their own, but here are a couple of tips that might be handy:

1) When buying a lamp, always test the mechanism which raises and lowers the wick - if it doesn't work, or if it sticks, don't buy it;

2) The way that you cut the wick will determine the amount of light - I have always cut it in a curve, but you need to experiment - the best light I've ever gotten came from a wick which burned a little because it wasn't drawing oil, and ended up in an odd shape;

3) Turn the wick down low when you first light it, and gradually raise it as the chimney warms - this will prevent soot on the glass;

4) If it smokes, the wick is too high;

5) Kerosene is much cheaper than anything sold as "lamp oil" and is safe to store.

6) Put a piece of red thread in the fuel reservoir to prevent the lamp from exploding - I know that this is pure superstition, but I've always done it and I've never had a lamp explode :-)

Household Tips: Burned food in a pan

Fill the pan with enough water to cover the burned food (a couple of inches at least), bring to a boil, and shake in some baking soda. It will foam up - allow it to cool.