Instructables
Here is a quick and easy way to recycle caulk tubes for re-use.  Apply whatever substance you like in a caulk like manner even if you can't buy it in a caulk tube.  Re-fill as many times as you want.

I wanted to be able to apply drywall compound from a caulk tube to do some touch ups on one of my projects.  Nobody seems to make drywall compound or spackle in a caulk tube.  Empty caulk tubes are also not readily available.  None of my local hardware stores carry them.  I found a few suppliers selling them online, but they were pretty expensive with shipping factored in.

The only supplies you will need are:
A caulk tube (preferably with water based contents)

Tools:
An air compressor with an air nozzle
Optional:  bottle washer attachment for faucet


 
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Step 1: Empty the caulk tube

Picture of Empty the caulk tube
Empty the caulk tube of as much of its contents as possible.

If you just want an empty tube to use, but don't have a spent one from a project, you can buy a new tube of painters caulk for $1.38 at Home Depot.  Obviously, it is least wasteful to use the caulk for something rather than just throwing it out.  But, if you don't need the caulking and need the caulk tube, this is the cheapest way to go.  Buying empty tubes online and having them shipped will run you at least $3/tube.
clazman7 months ago

Suffice it to say, I applaud recycling. However, to mention disposing of
original compound in order to obtain the container is not recycling as I
understand it. I realize it is sometimes not cost effective to warrant
otherwise, but that is unfortunate.

For example, recycling is reusing a container after the substance contained
in said container (for example caulk) has been utilized as intended by the
original design intent.

To use economics to warrant otherwise is environmentally unsound.

Thinkenstein7 months ago

I clean out and reuse a lot of silicone rubber cartridges. I poke the plungers out with a piece of 1/4" rebar. Grind the tip a little to remove any sharp edges from cutting. I almost never poke through the plunger, thus eliminating the need for an air compressor, or splash problems with the material. Of course, you have to cut the nozzle hole big enough to stick the rod in.

Dried silicone doesn't stick well to the cartridge plastic, so you can just rub and peel it out. No need for solvents.

For a similar technique with smaller batches of material, try getting syringes with curved conical plastic tips (used for feeding baby birds) at a pet shop.

rose_adamaj9 months ago
Yippee! Last night I bought 2 empty tubes from amazon. This morning it hit me--why hadn't I looked at ibles first, duh! Fortunately I only bought 2, cause I have A LOT of caulk in the garage I am not going to use but couldn't bring myself to throw out. Now for the emptying & refilling, let the fun begin. Thank you for this ible!!!
iPodGuy3 years ago
I didn't know you could buy 'em empty.

I've always wanted to try this out with peanut butter and jelly or icing or something, but I was concerned about used ones. Might have to pick up some empties.
fzumrk (author)  iPodGuy3 years ago
I saw someone selling these for making something similar to Jello-shots. Presumably these are 'food grade' tubes. Search for "caulk shot".
foobear3 years ago
like this, thanks for the tip!