Introduction: Repurposed Etched Glass Spice Jars...

Picture of Repurposed Etched Glass Spice Jars...

As an avid recycler, I often find myself admiring the numerous
boxes of glass bottles in our garage, awaiting their fate.
When I noticed more than a dozen empty bottles from one particular
product, I knew I had a problem there must be something else I
could do other than toss them into a recycling bin once a week.

In order to justify my purchase of a caffeine-laden treat, I decided
to repurpose and upcycle the glass containers from my favorite
splurge. Enter Starbucks Frappuccino. (I know, I know, but I'm trying...)

And no, we're not rich. I realize these drinks can be over two dollars each,
but one a week is hardly a crime. Come Friday, by golly, I'm worth two bucks.
AND a cup of ice.

With a few supplies, and as many glass bottles as you can find,
you can quickly organize a spice cupboard or pantry in a very attractive manner!
For those who often cook, a cupboard full of oddball plastic bottles is not very
helpful. With clear glass, you can see what you are looking for, and if
you aren't quite certain (Oregano and Basil come to mind), read the label.

Drink bottles, salad dressing bottles, there are so many options, so many
different sizes and shapes. The wonderful thing about glass is that it is
recyclable, inexpensive, and readily available. If you feel as though you've
'goofed up' a bottle during the etching process, rinse it off and chunk it into
the recycling bin. Then try again. Consider practicing on a few scrap bottles to
get the hang of it before embarking on etching something nice. Some of you
may even have glass jars now, maybe you'll be inspired to etch them?

Come on, let's see what we can come up with!

Step 1: Items Needed...

Picture of Items Needed...
  • Common sense. You will be working with potentially harmful blades and substances
  • Eye protection. Better safe than sorry!
  • Rubber gloves. Repeat. Better safe than sorry!
  • Armour Etch Glass Etching cream (10 ounces costs approximately $20.00 in our area). Be sure to check your local newspaper or scan the internet for 40-50% off coupons on occasion to save money. Smaller quantities are available, I prefer the larger bottle as I etch quite a bit.
  • Contact / Vinyl / Duct paper
  • Tweezers, pins, or other method of picking up teeny little stickers
  • Stopwatch, timer, or other time-keeping device
  • Soft bristled paint brush
  • Razor blade or X-acto knife
  • Stencils
  • Soap and water
  • Drawings, pictures, letters, etc. (Public libraries are a great, and free, resource!)
  • Lids for bottles - It would be nice if the original lids are available, but you can always use cork, small circles of fabric tied with ribbons, etc. for replacement lids. I look for lids that have rubber gaskets in them to keep my spices fresh.
While I happen to have a nifty little machine that cuts letters out of vinyl, such
equipment is not necessary. You can also purchase stickers of letters and other designs
for etching purposes. Use the letters themselves and etch outside of them, or etch the
inside frame of the cut letters as I have.

Don't let me scare you from this project, but use of the etching cream comes with plenty of warnings.
Be sensible, mindful of your surroundings, and use caution.

It is advised to rinse the etching cream off your project outdoors so as to avoid any dangers in your kitchen or bathroom sink.

Step 2: Bring on the Bottles!

Picture of Bring on the Bottles!

This is the fun part. On your next journey through a grocery store,
take a good look at the bottles and jars on the shelves.

You purchase the item, use the product, and toss the jar to the curb for recycling.

But...what if you repurposed those containers? Mouse proof, insect
proof, attractive and unique, upscaled storage.

Olives are often sold in uniquely shaped containers, salad dressings come in
some very nice looking bottles, there are so many wonderfully shaped
glass bottles. Olive oil bottles are beautifully colored in many shades of green.
Wine bottles, empty candle containers, the availability is all around you, if
you just take the time to observe. All that glass. Going to the dump? Shame!

Don't have much room in your kitchen? Consider the tiny little jars for pimentos / pimientos
or garlic. Since I started adding pimentos to everything I can, the jars are adding up. They
are so cute!

Step 3: Remove Labels From Bottles...

Picture of Remove Labels From Bottles...

Sometimes a label simply peels off. Other times it might need a head start with
the edge of a knife. Be very careful, you don't want to lose any fingers! You might
even consider soaking a bottle overnight.

It might even be necessary to use the side of a razor blade to scrape labels
that seem uncooperative.

Step 4: Remove Any Sticky Residue...

Picture of Remove Any Sticky Residue...

Here she goes again with product advertisements.
Remember, I don't get paid for this, I simply want to bring to
your attention how awesome this product is!

If you are familiar with that gooey, sticky, not-moving-an-inch
residue left after duct tape, masking tape and other sticky
things, I'm here to sing the praises of Goo Gone. Seriously good stuff.
Spray it on the sticky, walk away. Come back, wipe off, rinse.
Wow. It's that easy.

Stop scratching glass trying to remove it with a soapy steel wool pad.
A little goes a long way!

Step 5: Wash and Thoroughly Dry Your Bottles...

Picture of Wash and Thoroughly Dry Your Bottles...

Make certain your bottles are clean both in and out.
Soak if you must, bleach if you insist, but make
sure they are clean, dry and free of residue, fingerprints
and such. You want your glass as clean as possible for
the etching process.

Step 6: Select or Create Your Stickers...

Picture of Select or Create Your Stickers...

In this step, you can use adhesive stickers cut from shapes with scissors,
razor blades, or even fancy things made with electronic cutters like Cricut
Electronic Cutter, or Quickutz Embossing and Cutting Tool.

If you don't have a personal cutting machine, you might trade something with
someone who does. Do you knit? Maybe you could trade a hat for a sheet of
stickers made just for you! Send them a list of requested stickers, and then
send them your trade. A great way to get personal with other Instructables members!

Be creative. There is an endless supply of adhesive things one could use for
such a project.

Step 7: Positive or Negative? Shiny or Etched?

Picture of Positive or Negative? Shiny or Etched?

Consider whether you wish your final design to be positive or negative. In other
words, Do you want your design to be shiny, with the background in etched glass?
Simply place your letters on the glass, tape a border around the item with masking
or other tape, and etch away. You can even use strips of the same adhesive you used
to make your stencil. When you pull the stickers and tape off after etching, your design
will be shiny, with the background in etched glass.

Or do you prefer etched letters on a shiny glass surface in negative fashion? Place the outside frame of
your design onto the glass, making certain to include the centers of letters such as
A, B, D, O, P, Q and R. Don't forget the little dot above a lower case letter 'i' and such.
This can be tricky if your letters are tiny. Call in the tweezers, or even a safety pin to
transfer the tiny stickers without marring the sticky back of them.

Step 8: Apply New Stickers to the Bottles...

Picture of Apply New Stickers to the Bottles...

Remove the adhesive backing from your vinyl, apply to your glass and smooth the
vinyl so there are no bubbles near the cut edge of the stencil. Bubbles in
other places are fine, just try to make it neat and tidy.

Step 9: Apply Etching Cream...

Picture of Apply Etching Cream...

Apply the etching cream only to the areas you wish to etch. Apply liberally with a soft paintbrush.
Be careful not to go outside the desired areas. Wear your glasses if you have them.
Work quickly, but not so fast that you make a mess. The tiniest splatter will become an etched area.

Pay attention so your cream is applied evenly. A giant glob is not necessary,
but you don't want to apply such a thin coat that it dries before the other
cream, producing a varied result.

Step 10: Set the Timer, a Mere Five Minutes...

Picture of Set the Timer, a Mere Five Minutes...

Use an online timer, your cell phone, your microwave clock timer,
whatever you can to ensure the cream is on your project for only five minutes.

In this five minutes, carefully wash your paintbrush and gently dry it. Wash
and dry your hands and head back to the timer. Ten, nine, eight.

Don't panic if you exceed the five minute limit by a bit.

Step 11: Thoroughly Wash Off the Etching Cream...

Picture of Thoroughly Wash Off the Etching Cream...

When the time is up, immediately wash the glass off, making certain your
hands are protected with gloves.

I highly advise rinsing the etching cream off outside, or in a sink where the
waste water is caught and disposed of other than down the drain. Warm water
will work best, and will help aid in removal of the stickers.

We live in the country with a septic system, so this is why you see me rinsing
in the bathroom sink. It never hurts to be conscious of the things we stuff down
the drain that later will be mingling with the very water we drink.

Step 12: Dry the Spice Jar Off, and Fill With, Well, Whatever!

Picture of Dry the Spice Jar Off, and Fill With, Well, Whatever!

Now that your glass bottle has been etched, washed and dried,
stand back and look at it. Nice, huh?

Fill it up with the item you've labeled it with, and adore it!

Step 13: What a Great Way to Repurpose and Recycle!

Picture of What a Great Way to Repurpose and Recycle!

Now just how cool is that?

The ideas are really flowing, now, aren't they? Suddenly you have the desire
to visit your local grocery store. Imagine the possibilities!

All those glass baby food jars your sister has been saving? Put them to use!
Organize, label, create and enjoy your new project. If you aren't too proud, visit
a restaurant or cocktail lounge. Ask them what they do with all their glass.
You would be surprised at how many sources there are for the asking.

Next, invite someone over for dinner. While you're cooking, you could 'accidentally'
leave your spice cupboard door open for all to see and admire. After all, these would
make wonderful gifts for that neat freak on your list.

Remember, you are hardly limited to spices. A few other ideas:

Paper clips, buttons, safety pins, beads, coins, those little things that get lost in a drawer.

Candy, tiny bits of baking goods such as semi-sweet morsels, nuts, etc.

Nuts, bolts, screws, nails and the like. Imagine your significant other walking in to find you've alphabetized,
organized and etched the shop!

More candy. After all, who doesn't need half a dozen bottles of M & M's candies, each with color identification etched on them?

Have fun, and considering creating your own Instructable with your new creation!

Thanks for reading,


JohnL452 (author)2016-07-24

You have posted quite a variety of ideas here. Thank you very much. The instructions to utilize those sorted ideas makes it all appear to be very easy to accomplish. I can remember my Grandfather manually etching glass jars for my Grandmother's preserves and other things that she routinely canned. He used some sort of rotary tool but was always griping about how often the grinding bits would break or wear out. If only he had had that etching cream!

Thanks again!

hiveoffive (author)2012-08-01

I LOVE this idea! I have all my bottles washed and ready to go, borrowed a cricut, but can't find small enough letters. Which cartridge did you use?

Thanks for your help and thanks for such a great idea!

WUVIE (author)hiveoffive2012-08-02

Hi! Thank you so much!

No matter which cartridge you use, there should be a dial on the Cricut to increase or decrease the size. I can't remember which one I used, but I only
have a few cartridges. Something Plaintain, or Schoolbook? (Not at home right now to make certain.) :-)


msorb75 (author)WUVIE2014-12-16

Hello. I love this look and want to do this project but am not sure what the cricut is and how to get the stencils..... Please help!!!

aallen35 (author)msorb752015-01-13

The CriCut is a craft tool you can hook up to your computer and make a stencil for labels, I am look to get one too, I have my bottles ready to go

msorb75 (author)2014-12-16

I am interested in the font and labels. Can someone direct me how to get them please

msorb75 (author)2014-12-16

I am interested in the font and labels. Can someone direct me how to get them please

ecurbao (author)2014-05-26

I love goo gone and WD40 does work wonders but both are harsh chemicals that I didn't want to use on items intended for food. In my search I came across coconut oil and baking soda, 1:1 ratio, as a great alternative. Mix the paste together, apply, wait a few minutes and scrap off. Worked great when I cleaned up some beer bottle labels with the only caveat being prepeeling the labels that had that plastic waterproofing layer first.

laradioken (author)2014-05-06


dablondeemu (author)2014-05-05

Is the etching cream thick enough to just paint on freehand?

WUVIE (author)dablondeemu2014-05-05

Hello Dab,

While you certainly could paint it on freehand, it is not thick like paint, and would not stay perfectly placed. But, if you didn't mind it a bit out of the lines...


deepta (author)2014-04-26

The day i saw this ible i started collecting the glass containers (not throwing any out to recycle) hoping to do this one some day! a great personalised pantry it will be!!!

gonwththewind29 (author)2014-04-22

I love this idea !! I am growing a herb garden this year and these would be perfect for my dried basil !!

lime3D (author)2014-04-19

By far, the best way to remove labels is 100% Mineral Spirits.

afujishima (author)2013-05-26

Easiest, and non-toxic way to remove labels is to soak the bottle/jar in vinegar. Labels and glue wipe right off. I usually just leave to soak over-night, even though that's not really needed. Just sometimes, some bottles/jars have really thick adhesive on them, and soaking them over night takes out the guess-work.

skipernicus (author)afujishima2014-04-12

I'm gonna try that - thanks!

skipernicus (author)2014-04-12

Heat is a good agent for removing labels - but be cautious - hot bottles can burn you.

What I do is put the bottles in a stock pot, bring it to an almost boil, then lower it to a simmer. After a few minutes, fish one out with tongs and silicon oven mitts, pour out the water, and try removing the label with the flat edge of a butter knife.

They may still stick, but usually have much less fight in them.

Faroukchoudary (author)2013-12-18

I didn't get how to make own labels

WUVIE (author)Faroukchoudary2013-12-19

Hello. In step 6, several ideas are mentioned, including making your own, or even using a cutting machine to make them. You can easily make your own using contact paper and a cutting tool, razor blade, etc. :-)

rnurnberger (author)2013-11-29

this is what I like to call the bombdigidy!! :-) I'm sooooo going to do this!! now,... how can I get YOU into one of these little bottles and into my cabinet so I can pop you in and out periodically to use you for all these awesome creative ideas?!!

WUVIE (author)rnurnberger2013-11-30

Ha! What a fun post to read, thank you so much!

hdawson1 (author)2013-08-13

I couldn't tell you the size, but I will tell you that i'm "reasonably" certain that that font is the "Plantin Schoolbook" font with "endcaps" feature on. Which is for the Cricuit machine only. If you like the look of the font but dont care about the stencil gaps, something like Plantin Std or Bold should get you close. @lurajeane I would reply but apparently i can't do that with the captcha.

lurajeane (author)2013-07-27

what font and size did you use for the starbucks bottle?

lurajeane (author)2013-07-27

I have been able to remove the printing off of Starbucks bottles using "Goof Off". It will also remove the residue from the clear labels as well

miamitreasure (author)2013-07-22

Very Cool !!!

dayymonn (author)2013-01-28

What font is this?

bmunn1 (author)2012-12-08

My bottles are ready! Any hints for painting the lids?

WUVIE (author)bmunn12012-12-28

Hello Bmunn, unfortunately, I haven't done anything to my lids, leaving them plain for now, until I come up with something. Did you decide to paint yours?

lkuziez9680 (author)2012-01-22

instead of using Goo Gone, rubbing alcohol works very well, otherwise this idea is great considering the amount of spices we have in our house

WUVIE (author)lkuziez96802012-12-28

Thank you so much! So many spices. I share your difficulties, LOL. Hubby is always saying 'where is the such and such'. I end up having to move things around to show him.

chrisnotap (author)lkuziez96802012-12-12

WD40 works great too which everyone has in their house! Great idea wuvie!

WUVIE (author)chrisnotap2012-12-28

WD40? I never knew. Thank you so much!

clazman (author)2012-12-12

Thanks for this Instructable!

I had one thought in keeping the letters together when doing a positive. I've used this procedure but not with the vinyl.

That is, apply a tape (clear or not?) over the letters before lifting them from the backing. Apply and carefully remove the tape.This would be similar to applying vinyl lettering which uses the backing for "holding" the letters during application. Maybe even us a sacrificial piece of vinyl although it is more expensive.

Again, Thanks.

WUVIE (author)clazman2012-12-28

Hey, that is a great idea! I can never seem to keep my letters straight.
I'll definitely give it a try. Thank you!

afaulk1 (author)2012-12-26

I thought I posted this yesterday but I don't see it. Great project with great instructions. I was wondering if you have ever cut contact paper with your cricut and if so does it work any special instructions for doing that. The cricut vinyl is so expensive I would love to use contact paper.

WUVIE (author)afaulk12012-12-28

Hello! Yes, I do use contact paper with my Cricut, and it works great. You might have to experiment with cutting pressure and such, depending on the grade of paper you purchase. I just use the plain white, and place it onto the Cricut board with the paper backing still on it. Hope you will give it a try. Suddenly, you'll be etching everything! :-)

rstickney (author)2011-12-10

I noticed that it was hard to read the etching on some of the spices, is there some way to put a colored back to the etched letters, or will that effect the etched letters?? Is there a way to color the etched letters?

Blue Hawaii (author)rstickney2012-10-24

You can rub a colored pencil on the etched area to give it a slight color that helps to make it stand out from the contents of the bottle or jar.

raevunstein (author)rstickney2011-12-13

I have a glass etching kit that I purchased a while back and in the instruction video they include with the kit I purchased. Which I will say was expensive because you make your own stencils using a UV light. It states that you can use oil based paint to color the etched areas if you should choose to do so. So if you have a steady hand that would be an option.

WUVIE (author)raevunstein2011-12-16

Good to know, thanks, Raevunstein!

rstickney (author)raevunstein2011-12-14


WUVIE (author)rstickney2011-12-12

Hello Rstickney,

I didn't want the labels to be too 'in your face', which is why I like the
etched letters. It may also be due to the angle of my picture.

The good thing, though, one can always look at the herb in the bottle, or
smell it, or tilt your head for better lighting. LOL.

I'm not sure if you could mix paint with the etching, but I would definitely
do plenty of research just in case.

rheinze1 (author)2012-09-14

Thankyou so much for sharing this incredible instructable! I can't WAIT to create gifts from repurposed jars now! Beautifully done AND written!

WUVIE (author)rheinze12012-09-25

Rheinze1, thank you so very much! I hope you are able to have a lot of fun when making them. :-)

Beti1948 (author)2012-07-29

Thanks for posting such a great & green project. I'm lamenting all the olive jars I've recycled. They'd be a great size for this. I'll go through my recycle bin right now!

You have a good writing style, by the way. Informative and organized but very readable.

WUVIE (author)Beti19482012-07-31

Hello Beti!

Thank you so much! Wow, my ego is lifted today, thank you!

The Dalai Farmer (author)2012-01-18

A perfect example of "hand made" and not "home made"! Beautiful, well crafted and useful - and looks like you paid a mint for it!

I've favourite'd this and now am following you for more!

WUVIE (author)The Dalai Farmer2012-03-05

Hello Dalai Farmer, love your username!
Thank you for the kind compliments!

huf123 (author)2012-02-26

This is why I love Instructables. I absolutely hate throwing away glass jars. As a result I have boxes full, and no idea what to do with them. Thanks for the great idea.

WUVIE (author)huf1232012-03-05

Aw, thank you, Huf! :-)

About This Instructable




Bio: Let's skip the pretentious titles. At present, I am a paper pusher for a manufacturing plant. In the remainder of my life, I am ... More »
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