Reuse a "disposable" Spice Mill





Introduction: Reuse a "disposable" Spice Mill

About: Virologist, Dremel owner, hardcore bike commuter

I've developed a taste for fresh ground pepper, but as someone on a low salary I don't want to buy an expensive pepper mill. Some spice companies sell peppercorns, sea salt grains, and dried spices etc. in neat little grinders, but you're not supposed to be able to refill them, which is a bit silly since you can buy bulk spices much cheaper from most supermarkets.

Step 1: Oops

My first attempt at getting the plastic grinder top off the glass container went badly. I tried to use a spoon to pry it off, wedging the end of the spoon into the lid and banging it on the table. It made some cracking noises, which I thought was glue. It turned out that I'd broken the rim of the glass bottle off.

Step 2: Soften the Plastic

Later when I had another empty pepper grinder, I decided to soften the plastic before prying it off more gently. I set my oven at 250F and put the grinder inside for about 10 minutes.

The room smelt like pepper =)

Step 3: Remove Lid and Refill

Pry off the top gently. REMEMBER: hot glass doesn't look hot!. Use a potholder.

Refill with peppercorns or whatever other spice you like. I don't know if maybe some others might be too hard for the plastic grinding surfaces to handle. You may have to experiment. Also, if you look at the size of the teeth (on the underside of the top) it can't handle very big objects.

Step 4: Replace the Top

Bang it lightly with your fist until it clicks. Enjoy fresh ground pepper.



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    All it took was some hot water from the sink... Granted, my apartment has some HOT water, but all it took was just a few seconds of heating, once the water was at full hotness.

    Kinda a dumb question, but can you put rice in there and use it to make flour?

    5 replies

    Probably not because hand-cranked pepper mills usually spit out little chunks, not fine powder. You'd be better off using a blender. Any reason you can't find rice flour for sale?

    about that rice flour, as you said earlier xeno...

    "totally depends on which part of the world you live in, which shop you buy your groceries at, and which brand you're looking at."

    mos' o the "grocery" stores in the food deserts of this DisUnited States, are little more than repositories of toxic junk. something healthy, and non-gluten, like rice flour is beyond the scope of human comprehension for some of this store managers. blessing's to the food hackers, diyers and healthy thinkers out there.

    I can, but me and my ex are starting a farmers market booth that sells baked goods, and I thought It'd be better if it was more 'hand made'. Plus from what I hear rice flour isn't as cheap as rice.

    Yeah you DEFINITELY need a bigger mill if you're going to want enough stuff to make bread, and one that can grind finer. Try Googling "hand mill flour" or something.

    Haha okay. But I have to make the mill, because since I'm not allowed to get a job yet. I'm looking around though.

    Thanks so much for this hack! I looked up the grinder after it was empty to figure out how to refill just to find it was designed to NOT be refillable! I was mad that the marketing tricked me into thinking I was buying something environmentally friendly but in reality it's worse than my regular shaker! Shame on Morton! Then I found your page and by softening the plastic, which I wouldn't have thought of, it worked like a charm! I had already bought the course grind salt by Morton which is right next to it on the grocery shelf, again tricking me into thinking it was refillable, so I was very happy! I'll be doing the same for the pepper! Yay

    3 replies

    I have the Morton Pepper mill shown in your picture. Did you refill the one shown above?

    I did the salt grinder first because it emptied faster but the pepper one is the same

    Yes the hack above was dead on! I was mad they tricked me into thinking it was refillable but it is actually designed to be one-use only. By heating the plastic you can pry off lid and refill! I had tried to pry it off cold but could tell it was going to break. After refilling it it pops back on but don't wait too long do it while the plastic is still warm. I used a butter knife to pry under the tabs and after a few tries back and forth on each side it came off! It takes a little muscle but not too bad.

    my problem is the grinders with the peppercorns are actually *cheaper* than just the peppercorns in a bottle. The weights were almost identical, but the grinder was about 50 cents less... go figure...

    3 replies

    I love the peppercorn medley but don't like that the bottle isn't refillable. It's wasteful to keep throwing thing in the landfill or recycle bins. I went on a Google search to find that this mix isn't exclusive to this brand, However, like you, I found the price of the item in bulk is more expensive. I love that this grinder has 3 settings and is easy to use, so I wrote the company asking them to change their ways.

    Pricing totally depends on which part of the world you live in, which shop you buy your groceries at, and which brand you're looking at.

    At the time and place when I wrote this, this was the most economical option for me to get fresh ground pepper, and it seems to have been useful for a few other people too. If it doesn't work for you, feel free to ignore this.

    I just mentioned it because I had one I was able to take the lid off, but when I got to the store, I was frustrated that the ones with the lid were cheaper than the ones without. Same brand and everything.

    Its like they were punishing you for actually buying a real peppermill.

    Great tips here! I heated grinder container in microwave for about a minute, then held container in left hand using pot holder, then using my right hand, pried lid off with the tip of potato peeler as suggested below. No trip to Trader Joe's, no buying anything, just a minute (literally, no more than one minute) and the container to re-use!

    I bought a McCormick and a Morton's grinder. The McCormick had good action and I'll be using this for my "refilling." The action on the Morton's is terrible, it jams after a twist or two and the opening to be able to remove the protective lid can dig into your hand if you're not careful. Just my observations.

    I have found in the local supermarket a new grinder,empty, with metal teeth. They come apart basically the same way but will last much longer than those with the plastic teeth. I tried it for grinding sea-salt but the teeth corroded and became useless...but for pepper it will work. Hope this will help as it follows the path of being reusable even though it is bought as new.

    1 reply

    You need a special mill for salt - ceramic or plastic - as the salt will corrode the metal with a quickness.

    worked fine for me, thanks.

    I used a cup of hot water instead, being eco friendly, and saving water :p

    Held the plastic jar lid upside down in it for 20-30 seconds and it popped off easily with just a pull - wearing heat protective gloves on both hands.

    Great tip.