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Lab Stuff I wish I could use in my kitchen

Posted in: Equipment Mastery and Hacks
Lab Stuff I wish I could use in my kitchen

We recently had a feature from Jode on everyday equipment that you can use in the lab, but what about the other way around?

Do you ever take a look at what you’re doing in the lab and think, “Wow, this would really come in handy at home?” Here are a few of the things I use in the lab that I would love to have in my kitchen:

1. Stir plates and stir bars would be incredibly useful for cooking those dishes that need to be stirred constantly. Can you imagine making risotto on a stir plate? Just start up the spin function, and you won’t have to stand over a hot pot for 30 minutes just to make a tasty dinner.

2. Parafilm works so much better than saran wrap, I’ve often been tempted to “borrow” a roll for sealing food containers to store in my fridge at home.

3. Liquid nitrogen would be invaluable for flash-freezing veggies and meats to store in the freezer. Imagine making popsicles instantly, and never having to wait for the ice cube tray to freeze!

4. De-ionized water from a tap in my kitchen would seriously decrease the number of times I have to run vinegar through the coffee maker to keep it flowing smoothly.

5. Freezer labels that stay stuck in extreme temperature conditions could eliminate the “mystery meal” phenomenon of pulling an unlabeled tupperware out of the freezer and hoping it’s soup.

6. A vortexer would be an essential party asset for mixing drinks, especially if you could also find conical cocktail glasses!

7. Lab timers can time multiple procedures and have louder buzzers than any kitchen timer I’ve found; they would be perfect for busy cooking days.

8. Freezer racks and boxes would make much better use of freezer storage space at home. What if you could get tupperware containers the same size and shape as freezer boxes, and organize them in those vertical metal racks just like in the -80°C freezer in the lab?

9. A 30°C incubator is the ideal tool for making bread. No more guesswork when it comes to rising times for bread; at the optimal temperature for yeast growth, you know exactly what the doubling time is, and thus exactly when the bread is ready to bake.

10. A desktop autoclave could be really handy for sterilizing baby bottles. I’d also use it to sterilize glasses and flatware after an illness, to make sure the same bug doesn’t make an unwelcome reappearance.

What lab items do you wish you could use in “real life”?

Alternatively if you’ve ever wondered what everyday things are useful in a lab setting check out our 10 Top Everyday Items Useful in the Lab and 15 Laboratory Items You Can Buy In Any Store.

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  1. Emily on April 30, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    Come to think of it, autoclave gloves would be a great replacement for hot mitts!

  2. Martin Gollery on April 30, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    I thought about the stir plate idea back in the ’80’s. Can you imagine how cool it would be to have an electric stove with a stirrer on each burner? You couldn’t patent it, though, so other companies could do it too. I am surprised that this was never developed!

  3. Alan Dove on April 30, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    When I left lab work a decade ago, I promptly started shopping for kitchen gear that could replicate some of the functions of my – ahem – borrowed lab tools. I haven’t gotten a stir plate or incubator yet, but here are some options for a few of the other items:

    2. Parafilm: Just buy the brand-name plastic wrap instead of the generic stuff. It sticks much better. If you really want Parafilm, though, you can check model-building stores for it. People use it in place of masking tape, apparently.

    3. LN2: This is very hard for “civilians” to get, but a pretty good substitute is dry ice plus denatured alcohol. Big supermarkets often carry dry ice, or you can call local gas/welding supply houses to see if they stock it. Denatured alcohol comes from the hardware store. Mix them, and you’re down to -80C, which is plenty cold for quick-freezing in the kitchen. If you’re willing to settle for -20C, just mix rock salt and regular ice, the way Grandma did to make ice cream.

    4. ddH2O: Available by the gallon in the bottled water aisle of your supermarket.

    5. Freezer labels: Duck tape.

    6. Vortexer: Splurge on a good martini shaker, and make like James Bond.

    7. Lab timers: Good kitchen supply stores carry multi-timer electronic units that you can hear at the other end of the house.

    8. Freezer boxes: $30 for a box of 12.

    10. Autoclave: Pressure cooker. Two notes, though: some baby bottles won’t survive autoclaving, and it’s way, way beyond overkill for post-illness cleanup. If you just got over something, you’re immune to it and everyone else in your house has already been exposed, so don’t worry about it.

    And now a lab tool I wish I still had: a pipet pump with a supply of 25-mL pipets. Basting a bird or a roast is so much easier with that, but I felt compelled to return it to the lab.

  4. Bonnie on April 30, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    We brew beer at my house, so I’d love a home autoclave for sterilizing beer bottles. That way we could pre-sterilize everything and not have to worry about sterilizing them with iodine directly before filling them. I’d probably also do a lot more canning if I had an autoclave.

  5. Yannick v.G. on April 30, 2010 at 11:10 am

    The centrifuge of course to concentrate (and resuspend), well, anything.

    99,9% pure ethanol 😉

    Nice and clean proteases to soften meat

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