Frugalista’s Make-Your-Own Ideas for the Home

Our Frugalista Amrita Singh shares some interesting make-your-own ideas for around the house, sure to save you some cash.


Make Your Own Butter

(And burn a bunch of calories in the process!)

Make Your Own Butter

An amazingly simple way to make butter, this is a great way to save on the cost of fancy flavoured butters.

Warning: a tremendous amount of elbow grease is required!

  1. Find a large glass bottle with a tight-fitting lid.
  2. Pour two cups of heavy cream into the bottle.
  3. Add a clean marble.
  4. Screw on the lid and shake for 15 minutes!
  5. Strain butter from the whey.
  6. Flavour your butter with salt or other embellishments like chives, sundried tomatoes, etc.

The cost to make?

You can find a pint of heavy cream on sale for less than $2. Probably not cheaper than a pound of butter on sale, but definitely cheaper if you're making a special flavour of butter. It's also fun to shake it up a little. Some people do this at family dinners and everyone takes a turn shaking.

Foaming Hand Soap 

Make Your Own Foaming Hand Soap

  1. Buy a new foaming hand soap bottle from the dollar store (you'll notice the soap in the bottle is usually liquidy vs. creamy).
  2. Most important step! Once you've finished using that hand soap keep the bottle and pump.
  3. Add 1 tbsp. of regular liquid hand soap, and top it up with water.
  4. The pump will automatically turn the watered down hand soap into foam.

This is a great way to stretch one bottle of liquid hand soap refill for 12 months.

The cost to make?

Just the initial cost of foam soap bottle ($2 at the dollar store).

Charcoal Air Freshener

Make Your Own Charcoal Air Freshener

To truly absorb odours from the air activated charcoal is the key. Activated charcoal has been treated with oxygen. Once treated, millions of pores open up between the carbon atoms. This allows a lot more chemicals to be absorbed. Odours are chemicals! And voila you've got an air-absorbing freshner.

  1. Go to a pet supply store and buy a batch of activated charcoal. This is most commonly used in fish tanks.
  2. Put the activated charcoal into a breathable bag and/or mason jar with a cheesecloth-covered lid.
  3. Place this air freshener in any area that needs odour absorbing help.
  4. This works really well in powder rooms, fridges, shoes and in cars!

The cost to make?

Watch for sales on activated charcoal. If you can find five cups worth for $10 it's a good deal and you can stretch that to make 10 air fresheners to use in all problem areas of your home.

Make Your Own Candle

Make Your Own Candle

Making your own candles can often be costly. But Amrita's frugal answer uses vegetable shortening, and she loves it.

  1. Find a glass jar or leftover glass candle holder.
  2. Buy some 100 per cent cotton yarn or string. Don't use twine, t's a bit too thin. You can find some at the hardware store.
  3. Cut a piece of string that is double the height of your glass jar and secure a washer on either end to add some weight.
  4. Melt down one cup of vegetable shortening. You can do this on your stove or in the microwave.
  5. Optional: stir in some baking extracts if you'd like to add scent i.e. pure vanilla, pure lemon... essential oils work too!
  6. Pour the melted shortening into the glass jar.
  7. Insert the string and wrap excess around a pencil to keep it in place while it sets.
  8. Let the shortening harden (you can put it into the fridge to speed things up).
  9. Snip the excess string and you're done!

The candle will burn continuously for several hours. This same method works with straight lard.

Fun Fact! Shortening was first invented as a cheaper option for making candles. But when electricity was invented, manufacturers of shortening had to shift gears and started marketing it as a food.

The cost to make?

One big tub of shortening is around $5 and you'll be able to make at least 12 candles. Amrita likes how long the candles burn as well so I think it's definitely worth making your own this way.