December 16, 2013

Measuring by Parts

When you are making lotions, salves or other herbal preparations, you might notice that many "recipes" are more like directions. For instance, let's say we want to make a fictional product that calls for two parts of oil and one part of water.

Did you notice that the measurement size is "parts" instead of teaspoons or ounces or cups? So just what is a "part"?

Let's start out easy. We'll substitute "part" with tablespoon. We would use two tablespoons of the oil, and one tablespoon of water.

If we wanted to make a larger amount, we might want to use half-cups as the measure, or even cups. For a smaller amount, teaspoons would work. We could use ounces or pounds. With a little more brainwork, we could use "two tablespoons" as the basic measurement, which means we would use four tablespoons of oil and two tablespoons of water.

As long as you use the same basic unit of measurement for each ingredient, whether it is tablespoons, teaspoons, cups, ounces or pounds, and then multiply this measurement by the number of "parts" in the recipe, you'll be fine. One part equals one tablespoon/teaspoon/etc, and two parts equals two tablespoons/teaspoons/etc. This works for liquid as well as solids: oils, beeswax, dried herbs, water, whatever.

So how do you know what basic measurement to use? There are several things to consider: is this something that you're making for the first time, so that you only want to make a small amount? Is it something that might spoil in a short period of time, so that you don't want to make a lot at once? Does it need to fit a certain container? Do you have a limited amount of one of the ingredients?

Let's say you want to use a 4-ounce amber glass bottle to hold the product you're making. You know that your finished product cannot be more than four ounces. If there are three ingredients, and one requires two parts while the other two are one part each, it would be easy to decide that you could use ounces as the basic unit of measurement (2 parts + 1 part + 1 part = 4 parts), because your bottle holds four ounces.

If you don't know how much a container will hold, you can fill it with water and then measure the water. A tin for bug bite salve, for instance, could be filled with water, then spooned out with a teaspoon or tablespoon, OR you could pour the water into a glass measuring cup and check the total amount. This little beaker set would work well. (That's an affiliate link.)

Perhaps you only have one tablespoon of a certain herb and want to make an herbal blend . If you need one part of this herb, you could use tablespoons as your basic unit of measurement. If you need two parts of this herb, you'll have to do a little math. You might use a half-tablespoon, or you might use teaspoons (3 teaspoons equal 1 tablespoon) as your basic unit of measurement.

Ready, set, now go be creative!

This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


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  1. What a great way to simplify this! I would like to share this on Facebook if ok with you.

  2. Thank you so much, Staci. Shares are always appreciated. :-)

  3. Great info! -Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures


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