Recycle Old Bottles to Various Useful Things




About: I like to explore new things and try out stuff. At the moment I'm in to electronics, BLE and LEDs.

This instructable is about a rather old project of mine. But as it seems, it didn't get too popular since then. I hope it changes after the submission of this instructable.
So what is it about? 
The main idea describes how to clearly cut off the bottom from any glass bottles and then reuse it for something beautiful like a lantern, a flower pot, a vase or something totally different.

So for the first part you need: 

a big bowl with cold water (may add ice, but without it works too)
40cm of a woolen thread for each bottle (any color, cotton works too, but no synthetics!)
a few empty clean and dry glass bottles (I prefer 0.7l wine bottles)
a few drops of petrol (the one that comes for your lighter works great)
a lighter or some matches
a glass cutter

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Step 1: Carve the Bottle

Take the glass cutter and one of the bottles.
Well glass cutter is a bit of a strong word for this device, as it only carves in a small notch. With flat glass this is enough to perfom a smooth break along this notch, when the glass is bent. Unfortunately not so with round bottles, but one step after the other. First we need to carve the notch at the same height all around the bottle some few centimeters from the bottom of the bottle.
Go and find some timber or a book to adjust the height of the cutting edge roundabout 3cm above the table. Hold the glass cutter straight down and move the bottle on the table to get ONE clear notch. Don't try to go over and over again, this will only worsen the problem. First try with a few spare bottles before you take your best one. You need quite a bit of a strength to get this notch straight.
You could also clamp the cutter to some timber or build a v-shaped device to cut it.

Step 2: Tie the Woolen Thread Around

Now you should have a glass-bottle with a small notch all around the bottle.
So then take the woolen thread and fix it on the notch. Try not to make a big knot, it doesn't have to hold much. After that trim the ends.

Step 3: FIRE!

This step should be done outside in some fireproof area! Please be careful! Before you start set up a spare bucket of water and an fire extinguisher.
Minors should consult their parents for help with this step. Handling with fuel and glass can be very dangerous! 

O.k., but now on with the show: Get the bowl and fill it with cold water, if you have you can put some ice inside, but keep it liquide! ;-)
Then take the lighter fluid and carefully soak the woolen thread with petrol. Normally a few drops around the bottle are sufficient. We don't want to burn down the house!!
If you spill too much, let it evaporate outside and start new. Adding to much petrol will surely burn your hand and destroy the bottle.
If everything looks good, hold the bottle at the neck with the bottom up and light the soaked thread. It should then burn about 20s maximum before you quickly immerse it into the cold water. This also extinguishes the last flames.
If it worked you have heard a small crack. Maybe you still have to carefully knock the bottom of the bottle, but that should go very easy.

Step 4: Smooth the Edges

Now you should have a bottle without a bottom, but with a straight and sharp edge. So go and use some sandpaper or your special tool and smooth the edges.
I used sandpaper by hand, but this tool does the same job much faster: Craftsman cordless rotary tool.
If you didn't do a great job and the rim is broken and unstraight, try to cover it with some special tape. There are self adhesive aluminium-tapes and I think even copper tapes available. Give them a try and cover up the bad rim.

Step 5: Use the Bottle Without Bottom

This is the most creative part of the instructable, because now you can do whatever you want with this bottomless bottle.
The next steps will present some ideas: A flower pot, a lantern (wall mounted and free hanging), a scent lamp for ethereal oils.

Step 6: A Flower Pot

To use it as a flower pot indoors you plug in an old cork to seal the neck of the bottle and fill the bottle up with earth and plant something in it.
Try to screw the cork to a wooden basement plate, this way you're free to set up the bottle wherever you like.

Sorry there are no pictures of this usage so far...

Step 7: A Lantern Wall Mounted

To use it as a lantern you need some kind of mounting and a plunger for the candle.
The plunger is made very easy from a piece of wood that fits inside the bottle and a metal pole in the length of the bottle. I used a half cork to fix them together, just look at the pictures.
Try not to make the wooden part perfectly round as this would seal up the bottle causing the candle to flicker and burn down unevenly.
To make the wall mount, I used two shelfs with a suitable hole in one of them for the bottle. Additionally I added a corner beneath the horizontal shelf. You have to figure out the sizes by yourself, because I believe none two bottles are the same.

Step 8: A Lantern Free Hanging

For the free hanging lantern you only need two meters of a metal chain. Open the chain links with pliers and create a cage for the bottle. Just look at the pictures to get the idea.

Step 9: A Scent Lamp for Essential Oil

Some years ago these scent lamps were really famous but in the meantime they have nearly disappeared. I still like them and this is a variation of the wall mounted lantern.
  You only need a small metal bowl or something looking like a watch glass but made out of metal. This is put on top of the bottle that is now wall mounted. Then you only have to fill in some water and a few drops of essential oil and if you light up the candle the whole room will be filled with a decent scent.

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    22 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Doesn't the candle turn it-self out after a few minutes because there isn't enough oxygen?

    3 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    Ah, now I understand!
    But the bottle-neck is open. So even if there is CO2 in the bottle it could flow out of the bottle.


    Reply 3 years ago

    You mean when you use it as a scent lamp? Well the cut is never so precise that it is air-tight. If you want you can use small pieces of wire to create a little space.


    Reply 3 years ago

    I'm just thinking that CO2 weighs more than air/oxygen so it might cause the candle to ***suffocate***


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction


    the use of hot and cold water is an interesting option for those who don't want to handle open fire.
    And by the way, the cut looks better than mine too. I guess I will try this one first.


    8 years ago on Step 2

    Have you ever tried just hot water and a running cold tap at this stage?

    Once you have a notch around the bottle, boil a kettle (do it over the sink) run the cold tap, then slowly pour the hot water over the notch all the way around then put the bottle under the cold tap, then some more hot water, cold water etc.. you will hear it then they 2 parts of bottle will just fall apart.


    8 years ago on Step 9

    i was thinking you could also seal the neck of the bottle and graduate it and use it as a rain gauge in the garden but what a great technique for with so many cool applications!!


    8 years ago on Step 3

    I've got to try it this way, sounds more simple that what I've done in the past. Have used a hot wire (NiCr resistance wire connected to a variable low voltage power source) in the groove to induce the thermal stress. Also used mechanical tapping inside the bottle along the score line. Used a large nut brazed to a length of heavy coat hanger wire. This fit in through the neck and can be positioned fairly easily. Just rather labor intensive.

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Just yesterday I tried the method with the hot water and it worked very well!

    After carving the initial line with the glasscutter, heat the line with boiling water in a very thin 'jet' (right word?). Then after 30s quickly cool it down with cold water. Repeat the last step until the crack goes through and through! I never have seen such a well break line.


    8 years ago on Step 9

    Adding a few touches with adhesive backed copper foil are nice. This is particularly nice to cover the cut edges or to add a pattern on the sides. The foil is available through any stained glass supplier. (I use it for electrical shielding in my job and keep the scraps for re-use). Apply the foil and then go over it with a soldering iron and 60/40 flux core solder. Work quickly as you will either loosen the adhesive bond or cause enough heating of the glass to crack it.


    8 years ago on Step 4

    Wear safety glasses for any glass work!
    I generally use only the edge of a piece of scrap glass to scrape the sharp edges. Works remarkably well since it's as hard as the surface you're smoothing. Not as likeley to cut your finger as with sandpaper that will tear through. Rotary tools, while fast do generate local heating which is just as likely to cause more cracking. For any serious glass cutting with an abrasive wheel, it should be water cooled - which isn't practical with hobby tools.


    8 years ago on Step 6

    Another creative use: If you score the bottle closer to the neck you can use the upper half as a chandelier shade (thread an electrical cord with a lamp on the end through the neck) and you can use the bottom half as a tumbler, pencil cup, flower pot, what have you.

    Nice i'ble, clearly lays out the steps you need to part a glass bottle. Hope it gets better traction than the last one.



    8 years ago on Introduction

    I love this candle thing. Though I still need practice cutting old bottles. Also, what you call "wool thread" is called "twine" here in the US. I believe it is made from a natural plant fiber.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    this is going in my favorites for future project ideas !