Dear Sara: Twice in two years I have had to change the front brake pads on my husband’s van. (I am a mechanic.) His idea of stopping is to wait until the last minute before applying the brakes … hard. Many years ago, I remember hearing about a gadget that you could put on your dash that would beep if you hit the brakes too hard or accelerated too fast. I’m guessing it was designed to get better gas mileage. Is there such a contraption, or do I need to keep changing brake pads? — Nancy C., email
Dear Nancy: I’m not sure if this is the gadget that you’re thinking about, but it’s the only one that I’ve heard about that does what you are describing. It’s called the Digital Fuel Mizer and can be bought here for $69.95: www.autosportcatalog.com.
Dear Sara: I am trying to clean out cabinets and I have an assortment of candles to clean out, some new and some partly burnt. I would like to melt some down and remake them, but I don’t know how. Can you help? What can I do with the rest? — Cathey S., email
Dear Cathey: You could donate them all and be clutter-free. If you only have bits and pieces of scented candles, they can be put into a candle warmer. They can be melted and poured into tart molds, small tins, tea cups, votive holders or into jars. You’ll need new wicks, which can be bought at retail craft stores, such as Michaels. Leftover candles can be melted with a double boiler. You can also melt them in a soup can or a coffee can that’s placed inside a saucepan heated on low, filled with 2 to 3 inches of water. (Don’t ever use a microwave.) There’s a tutorial on my forums: www.frugalvillage.com/forums/soapmaking-candlemaking/.
As far as another use for candle wax goes, one of my readers, B.C. from North Carolina, shares a gift idea: “I make fire starters for my emergency kits. I have a paper egg carton, where I keep dryer lint balls and a couple of cotton plugs from over-the-counter medication bottles. I melt the wax and pour it over the lint or cotton. These make great fire starters in an emergency. You can just rip or cut off a few ‘eggs’ and light the paper.” You could make them and give them away.
Dear Sara: I read your article about using Dawn on spots on clothes. Do you mix it with water or do you use it full-strength? Do you have to rub it in or just spray it on? Can I use any kind or do I have to use the original? — Cathy, email
Dear Cathy: I use original blue Dawn and squirt it directly from the bottle onto the clothing. I use it as a prewash treatment. You can rub it in a bit. You can also dilute the Dawn in a sink filled with water and soak the garment. Then rinse the clothing before running it through a regular wash cycle. I haven’t tried other dish soaps because original Dawn is what works for me.
Another product that will work is Simple Green, which I dilute. You can add 1/4 cup in your washer (fill washer with water first), or fill a spray bottle with half water and half Simple Green and spray it onto clothes as a pre-treatment.