Did you know that there are dozens of SCOBY uses that don’t involve brewing a batch of kombucha? Once I learned how to make kombucha at home, I found myself with a rather crowded SCOBY hotel. After all, each batch of kombucha I brewed in my half-gallon glass jugs created a new SCOBY. After a couple of months, I found myself with a rather large collection of healthy SCOBYs – and had to find some fun SCOBY uses that didn’t involve making more kombucha.
A couple of my friends who make herbal remedies and medicine came to my rescue with loads of ideas for ways to use these SCOBYs. We had a great time coming up with some SCOBY uses for all these little bacteria and yeast mats from my kombucha. We all know that kombucha benefits come from drinking the fermented tea made with a SCOBY, but did you know that you can get great skin care benefits from your SCOBYs, too?
SCOBY Uses: Skin Care
SCOBYs make great natural skin care products. The cellulose bacteria can help detox your skin and prevent wrinkles. In some countries, these masks are grown in labs and then sold as high-end skin care products. But if you’re proficient at growing SCOBYs for making kombucha, you can dig into your SCOBY hotel and have a facial treatment that would be the envy of any spa aesthetician.
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For a simple SCOBY facial treatment, use a four to six-inch SCOBY, at least ¼ inch thick. Rinse your face with cool water, and wrap a towel around your neck. Take the SCOBY, and, as you lay comfortably on the bed or the couch, press it over your whole face. Take care not to get any stray kombucha in your eyes, because, well, ouch – it stings. (If you do happen to get a little kombucha in your eyes, just rinse your eyes with cool water.)
Allow the SCOBY to remain there for anywhere from five to 15 minutes, and then gently remove it. (Make sure you leave space to breathe while you’re relaxing with your SCOBY facial mask.) Rinse your face with cool water and gently dab it dry to avoid irritating your skin. Any redness on your skin comes from increased circulation from your facial mask and will clear up in a few minutes.
You can re-use your facial SCOBY four to six times by placing it in a special SCOBY hotel reserved just for these facial treatments. If you’re actively brewing kombucha and growing new SCOBYs every couple of weeks, you’ll have a healthy supply of homemade, organic facial masks!
Other SCOBY uses for skin care include making your own skin creams. These are great for the winter months when the cold, windy weather can dry your skin out in just a few minutes. To make a SCOBY skin cream, you need the following ingredients:
- 1 6-ounce SCOBY
- 1/8 cup plain kombucha
- 2 drops essential oil if desired
- Your choice, 1 ounce of olive oil or almond oil or rose hip oil
Combine the SCOBY and half the kombucha in a blender, and puree, adding more of the kombucha as necessary to make a thick paste. Add the olive, almond, or rose hip oil and your essential oil to the cream and whisk it together. Apply the cream to your dry skin and let it dry completely. Once it’s dry, it will easily peel off, leaving your skin soft and re-moisturized. Store the cream in a glass jar with a tight-fitting plastic lid, and keep it out of direct sunlight. One batch should last you for several months – after that, discard any remaining cream and make a new batch. (If you see any mold on your skin cream, throw it away and make a new batch.)
SCOBY uses also include something called living bandages. The cellulose created in the SCOBY by the bacteria and yeast cultures is a wonderful way to help speed the healing of skin because of cuts and burns. Not only does it help to keep the wound or burn moisturized, but using a thin layer of SCOBY as a bandage can help to decrease inflammation and reduce pain. You can use thin slices of SCOBY to help soothe the skin during wound healing, but always discard the SCOBY when you’re finished with it.
SCOBY Uses: Pets and Crafts
You might not think it to look at one, but a SCOBY can be dried into a leather-like substance that can be used for arts and crafts, and as a great dog chew toy! The first thing you need to do is dry the SCOBY. Lay it out on a clean plate for a couple of days at room temperature. (Be aware that the SCOBY might attract some fruit flies as it dries out.) Turn it over once every 12 hours to speed up the drying time. When the SCOBY is about a quarter of the thickness that it was when you started, it might be ready to use – it helps to oil it up a bit with good quality olive oil to help it keep its shape.
To give your dog a special treat, dry the SCOBY until it’s not wet, but not completely dried out. Cut the SCOBY into small pieces and offer it as a chew toy. The beneficial bacteria in the SCOBY can help with pet digestion (almost the same way they help with human digestion), but just keep an eye out for any adverse reactions. Just like with people, it might take a couple of times to get your dog’s stomach used to the SCOBY. Bigger dogs can ingest up to four ounces of dried SCOBY per day.
SCOBY uses also include arts and crafts! Can you believe it? SCOBY “leather” is great fun to cut into shapes to make pendants and earrings using your favorite beads and markers. You can even fold it over and stitch it together with waxed linen to make pouches and coin purses. Get creative – experiment with your favorite markers and oil-based paints and dyes to add some color and patterns to your SCOBY creations.
Of all the fermentation food preservation techniques that we’ve learned over the years, I think brewing kombucha and using our leftover and extra SCOBYs has been my favorite! Do you have any creative SCOBY uses for your extra or worn-out SCOBYs? I’d love to hear them! Leave a comment here and share with us!