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Reuse a "disposable" spice mill

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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.

 
 
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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

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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

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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

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Bang it lightly with your fist until it clicks. Enjoy fresh ground pepper.
imactony1 year ago
I just refilled my disposable pepper grinder using the hold/twist/pull method. How easy was that?! Within 30 seconds of applying an even pulling pressure with small continuous back and forth turns, the top simply popped right off.
DaveNYC6 years ago
I prefer freshly ground spices too. Just one question - if the grinder parts are plastic, wouldn't the plastic eventually shred into the ground spices?
I think you may be on to something. Free flavor and lots of chemicals included, no extra charge. Doodado
doo da do1 year ago
We find all sorts of spices at the dollar store. Can't get much cheaper than that. I will try this when the next one goes empty. Doodado
pwasniewski3 years ago
I had bought maybe half a dozen of these things before I decided to reuse them, and I've never had any problem with popping the top off to refill it--I've been refilling a course salt grinder every week or so for about three months, and I don't even have any reason to think that popping them off cold makes them break faster. You just need to hold the glass bottle firmly and pull the top straight off very hard; once you're applying the maximum force you can apply directly away from the bottle, angle just a little away from the central axis. POP. You just need to BELIEVE. I now use all my empties for other spices, and the tip about being careful about the size of the spice you put in there is solid; allspice is a little too big for the pepper mill, as well as coriander, but if you bust it up a bit, it will work--you just have to have a little patience when you're grinding it. I'd recommend using the mills with the adjustable grinder (little red tab on the side).
Totally True!!!!! I just popped off the top no problem! Hold TIGHT and then PULL and it will come off without having to heat it in the oven and all use a spoon and all of that! So much easier!
BRILLIANT! 10 minutes was perfect, I just did it and so psyched! You can also use the tip of a potato peeler as the end is the perfect size and slightly curved. I am putting course sea salt and red peppers in mine. Thanks for the Instructable!
 The only problem I see is the hassle in heating it up every time to refill.  We have a LOT of these in our kitchen, and as some of them approach empty I'm thinking about things I'd like in them that the don't sell (like dried rosemary for my morning hashbrowns.)  I was hoping for some way to permanently mod the mill so that it could pop open when it was again empty.  I guess I'll just pull one apart and see how it's constructed, see if I can figure out a long term solution.
mamaells4 years ago
thank goodness for this idea! now i won't feel guilty about buying those! good job!!
Sheesh! I was wondering how to remove the top recently from my emptied pepper grinder and after an hour I gave up. I so wish I had come on here a few days ago to see this! Thanks for figuring this out.. I'll have to try this next time!
moranch6 years ago
Good Instructable, I will definitely try this. Thanks.
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