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Handy Hints and useful tips for around the home

Saving on Gas
  Gas burners are arguably more cost-effective than electric hot-plates. There's no waiting for them to heat up, and they can be adjusted for an almost immediate change of temperature. They aren't, however, always used efficiently.
  Obviously, whatever is being cooked determines the temperature; but when the contents need to be heated quickly there is often a tendency to turn the burner on full bore. The base of the pan should be the ultimate guiding factor. Any flames licking out from the base, especially up the sides of the pan, are wasted. So, even when you have to bring something to the boil, turn down the gas until the flames stay within the outer edge of the base. That way there's less chance of ruining your pans, and you'll save on your gas bill.

Use soap BEFORE you get dirty!
  Whether working in the garden, general cleaning around the house or doing stuff on the car and in the garage, dirt and grease can get under the fingernails and be the devil's own job to remove. Before tackling any of this dirty work, rake your fingernails over a bar of soap to fill the gaps. After the job, clean hands in the usual way, then scrub out the soap with a brush.

Charcoal - the carbon collector
  This basic element has been around since the first tree caught light and is highly absorbent of both liquid and gas. Introduced to potting mixes, it helps sweeten the soil and retain moisture, especially the liquid-fertiliser kind. It is also a pretty good fuel for the barbecue. Needless to say, you can also write and draw pictures with it. Charcoal is, in fact, one of those versatile, quiet achievers that can make life comfortable just by being there.
  An open container filled with pieces of it and placed on a shelf in the fridge will help reduce strong smells. And, believe it or not, you can actually eat it! A sudden bout of food-poisoning, especially if it comes on miles from nowhere - while camping, for example - can be eased temporarily by ingesting charcoal. It's a bit gritty, but it will absorb the stomach gases and help relieve the discomfort until proper medical treatment can be sought. Plus, being an inert substance, it won't do any harm.

Keeping the home healthy
  When it comes to cleaning, dirt and spills are usually visible and obvious, but bacteria isn't. Germs are in the air, on your hands, and everything that comes into contact with anything else. Regularly clean and disinfect work surfaces, door knobs and handles, whatever might be touched in the course of a normal day.

  A solution of water and a good disinfectant will do the job. Mix up some according to the manufacturer's instructions in an old dishwashing-liquid bottle with a squirt-type cap. Squirt some on the surface, or straight onto a cloth, then wipe over. Now leave it on to dry naturally. This gives the disinfectant chance to do its job.

Aerosol Cooking Spray vs Non-Stick Surfaces
  Spray-on cooking oils can damage some non-stick coatings. The culprit isn't the oil itself, but the aerosol propellant. Buy a small trigger-spray bottle, or one of those dispensers made specifically for cooking oil, the ones which can be pressurised by hand-pumping.
  Not only will your pans last longer, but you'll save money in the long run and be helping the environment by reducing your trash.

Cleaning Grease Stains
  To remove grease-stains from material, work in a small amount of polyunsaturated margarine, then wash out with soap and water. Use the same method for removing grease from hands. Apply some hand cream or lotion afterwards to replenish skin moisture.

Half an Onion
  When you don't need a whole onion, place what's left in a glass jar with a dessert-spoon of cold water, screw on the cap and refrigerate.  This will keep for at least a week and won't taint the fridge.
  Unused portions of other prepared, uncooked vegetables like potatoes, pumpkin and carrots can be kept similarly. Odour is not an issue, so plastic containers can be used, but the contents will need to be covered with water and they should be used sooner.

Removing Label Gum
  Labels often leave gum residue on a surface. Rub gently with a soft cloth moistened with Mineral Turps, turning the cloth frequently as the gum is taken up. Clean off the turps with a little household detergent or bar soap and water. Dry with a soft cloth.
  Remember to test the turps on an inconspicuous area first to avoid damage to the surface you intend to clean. If Mineral Turps is not available, kerosene or lamp oil are good alternatives.
Avoid contaminating food-preparation areas and utensils, and dispose of the cloth in the outside garbage can - left indoors the smell will invade not only the bin, but the entire room.

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