Introduction: Up-cycled Salt Shaker Made With Instamorph Plastic Pellets

Spring is finally here! Are you setting up the backyard for your first summer party? Why not make salt shakers from bottles using Instamorph?

My sister helped me with this project. We made it as part of a Instructables Build Night with The Maker Station in Marietta, GA. The featured product was Instamorph plastic pellets.

The plastic is lightweight and non-toxic. It doesn't require any specialized equipment to work with it.

One note: This product will melt if reheated, so I would not leave anything made from it in a hot car. We did place a flattened sheet in direct sunlight for several hours and it didn't distort, but I probably wouldn't make clothespins or something made for prolonged outdoor use with this.

Step 1: What You Need

  • Instamorph pellets
  • 1 qt. or larger sauce pan
  • 1 qt or larger bowl
  • Thermometer
  • A clean, dry bottle with threaded neck
  • Fork or nut pick
  • Scissors or sharp knife
  • Metal pan
  • Small bowl

Step 2: Heat Water to 150 Degrees

Following the Instamorph instructions, heat water to between 140 and 150 degrees Fahrenheit. We found that we needed to reheat the plastic while we were working with it, so we poured the hot water into a bowl we could work with away from the stove. We and added more water to the pan and left it simmering.

We used a candy thermometer to make sure it didn't get too hot. It doesn't hurt the plastic, but if you get it too hot, it will burn you.

Step 3: Melt the Plastic

One of the nice things about Instamorph is that it is reusable. When you pour it out of the bag, it's in small pellets, but we were reusing some for this project. Cutting it up into smaller pieces made it melt faster.

When Instamorph is cool, it is white. When it melts, it turns clear, so you'll know it's ready to work with. Remove it from the water with a fork. Use caution when touching it for the first time. It is pretty hot.

Step 4: Flatten and Shape

For this project, we need a smooth, flat piece of plastic to start with. Use your fingers to press the warm Instamorph onto a smooth, protected surface. We used a metal baking pan. Press it and then flip it over. The side that was on the pan will be smoother. Keep pressing and flipping until it is smooth and about 1/8" thick.

You can see that as you work with it, it will cool and turn white. If it gets too hard to work with, dip it back into the water. If your water cools off, add more from the water you left simmering on the stove. (Keep an eye on that pot. If the water boils away, you will ruin your pot, and it could start a fire).

Step 5: Mold the Top to Fit the Bottle

Start by pressing the flattened sheet over the mouth of the bottle. It should be roughly centered. At this point, measurements are not important. Remember, if it's not perfect, you can reheat it and try again.

Next, press the plastic down around the threads on the rim of the bottle. Since it's a flat sheet, we have to ease it into shape. Keep smoothing with your fingers, but don't push too hard. If you do, it will be too thin where you pressed too hard.

When you get the basic shape, dip it into cold water to harden the plastic.

Step 6: Trim the Excess

Hold the bottle firmly with one hand. With the other hand, use a sharp, serrated knife to trim the excess plastic. You should make sure to remove the part that is lower than the threads on the neck of the bottle. We used the original cap as a reference on where to cut. This bottle has a indentation at that point, so the knife didn't slip.

We didn't need any specialized tools to work with the Instamorph. We found that at this thickness we could easily cut it with kitchen shears and knives.

Step 7: Add Finishing Touches

Reheat the lid one last time.

Use a nutpick or ice pick or sharpened pencil to poke holes in the top. If you're making a set for salt and pepper, the salt usually has more holes that the pepper, but it's up to you. We used five holes, and the amount of salt with each shake seemed right.

Squeeze the cap onto the threads snugly one last time and cool it. When it is completely cool, rotate it to remove. Make sure to wash and dry the cap by hand, because it will melt in the dishwasher.

Fill with salt, place it on the table, and enjoy!