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These 8 Non-Food Uses for Your Slow Cooker Are Pretty Mind-Blowing

Slow cookers can cook up raw ingredients as if by magic, but they also have many more household uses you'll wish you'd known all along. (Note: For many of these projects, you should use a separate slow cooker from the one you cook your meals in.)

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Stiff joint relief

Whether you have sore joints from a day of skiing or working in the garden, there’s nothing quite as comforting as warm towel to soothe stiff or sore joints. Amy Stephens, a healing touch practitioner in Scottsdale, Arizona, uses her slow cooker for homemade relief. Here are her directions: Roll up several hand towels and place in the Crock-Pot. Pour one to two cups of water over the top of the towels—don’t saturate, just moisten them. Add a few drops of essentials oils, if you like. “Good essential oils to use for joint relief are wintergreen, lemongrass, and marjoram,” Stephens says. Turn the crock-pot on low for about two hours. Use tongs to pull hot towels out of the slow cooker. Shake the towel lose to open it and cool it slightly before wrapping it around the body parts that ache. Here are more natural home remedies for arthritis.

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Paint stripper

You don’t need harsh chemicals or a lot of elbow grease to remove layers of paint on door knobs and other hardware. You can safely and effectively remove paint from precious vintage hardware with a crock-pot. Just fill a Crock-Pot with water and add a couple drops of tablespoons of laundry detergent; set the temp to medium. Place the hardware in the slow cooker bath and let it sit overnight. The heated moisture and detergent will soften the paint and make it easy to remove. Use tongs to retrieve the hardware. Place it on a cloth and immediately rub off the paint with an old rag. If the paint is a little stubborn, use an old toothbrush or other stiff brush to finish the job. (Here are other things you never knew you could clean with a toothbrush.) Polish the hardware with a coat of beeswax or non-abrasive polish.

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Room freshener

Isn’t it wonderful when you walk into one of those candle or bath shops and get a whiff of vanilla, sea breeze, or fresh lilac? Don’t you wish you could smell those instead of the gym bag of sweaty clothes by the door at home? A mini slow cooker is a perfect way to fill your way home with freshness year-round. Simply fill a mini Crock-Pot with water, lemon slices and essential oil. has other recipes, like a sleepy time scent that includes lavender, a popular go-to scent for relaxation; a summer orange creamsicle scent; and cozy warm apple recipe. (These healing aromatherapy scents have real health benefits.)

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This is a fun activity to bust kids’ boredom. It will take about two hours, but it’s easy and cheap to make. The kiddos will love it because they get to choose the colors for the playdough, help make it, and then play with it when it’s ready. You’ll want a vinyl table cloth or an old shower curtain to keep your table clean and for easy dough blending and shaping. If you don’t want the kids to have purple hands all week, buy cheap, disposable gloves to wear while they’re mixing in the food coloring. Cookie cutters and plastic utensils are fun accessories to cultivate imagination once the playdough is ready. Get the full slow cooker playdough recipe here.

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We love the glow and ambiance of a candle burning, but when the wick burns out and there’s still wax left, we usually end up tossing the container in the trash. Slow cooker candles can turn trash into treasure by reusing the glass containers and the wax remnants to make new candles! If you have empty glass jars, teacups, or shot glasses, you can use these too. No wax? Pick up some wax when you buy the wick bases or wicks for the candles while you’re at the craft store. Essential oils add a nice touch. The number of scents available are practically limitless when you create your own blended fragrances. Here’s how to make homemade Crock-Pot candles.

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Lip balm

Dry, chapped lips are painful and not very kissable. When you make your own lip balm, you can control the ingredients and create your own flavor blend. Plus, a batch will give you enough lip balm to put in every coat pocket or purse! Judy Jewell, of Young Living Essential Oils uses this recipe to make 12 sticks of lip balm. In a small slow cooker melt the following on low to medium heat: 3 tablespoons beeswax, 3 tablespoons coconut oil, and 1 tablespoon vitamin E oil. Let the mixture cool a few minutes and add 9 drops of an essential oil of your choice, such as peppermint, grapefruit, or eucalyptus. Use an eyedropper to fill 12 tubes or small tubs with lids. Keep the tubes upright by placing them in an egg carton until set. Don’t miss these other homemade remedies for dry, chapped lips.

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Lotion bars

We all battle dry skin in winter, often going through bottle after bottle of lotion in search of one that isn’t too greasy doesn’t smell too strong. The solution: Make your own moisturizer with this easy crock-pot recipe from Kendra at Simply {Darr}ling. She whips up single-batch moisturizer using beeswax, shea butter, coconut oil, vitamin E, and essential oils. Simply melt the ingredients in your slow cooker (definitely use a liner for this one), and pour into a cupcake pan with cupcake liners. Visit the SimplyDarrrling website for complete directions. Here are more remedies for dry, winter skin.

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Hot stone massage

Michelle Archard, creator of the website How to Be Romantic, believes that a hot stone massage is incredibly intimate. An appointment with a pro is a indulgence for most of us, but if you have a willing partner who will do one at home as a romantic treat, buy the stones and give him or her these instructions from Archard. You’ll need 10 palm size, smooth black basalt stones. Scrub them in hot soapy water and dry them completely. About 30 to 60 minutes before the massage, place a small towel in the bottom of your slow cooker. Fill the slow cooker with warm water and set the temperature to low. Use a thermometer to monitor the temperature (you want the water to be around 120°F/48°C.) Put the stones in the water, using some kitchen tongs or a small aquarium net. After about 15 minutes, remove one of the stones, dry it, and place it on a towel. Touch the stone with your hand to see if it’s cool enough to hold comfortably. Once the stone can be held, squirt some massage oil onto it and run it lightly over your partner’s bare skin to see if the temperature is comfortable for them. Holding the stone in the palm of your hand, massage your partner’s body with the stone, using fluid, smooth strokes. You can also double up, with a stone in each hand. Swap the stone for a warmer one when it starts to cool. No partner, no problem! Use these self-massage techniques to gift yourself the same healing benefits.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest

Lisa Marie Conklin
Lisa Marie Conklin is a Baltimore-based writer who writes regularly about pets and home improvement for Reader's Digest. Her work has also been published in The Healthy, HealthiNation, The Family Handyman, Taste of Home, and, among other outlets. She's also a certified personal trainer and walking coach for a local senior center. Follow her on Instagram @lisamariewrites4food and Twitter @cornish_conklin.