Photo by wklzzz @ 123RF.com
If you’re here, it’s because you’re like us, and you find yourself not just drinking beer, but wondering about the bottles you’re left with. Recycling is a great option, but some pick-up recycling companies don’t take glass. So, instead, if you want to recycle these bottles you have to drive out to the facility to drop them off. Isn’t there something else you could do with them?
What are some ways to reuse beer bottles? Below are our 10 Genius Ways to Reuse Beer Bottles:
- Make them into party glasses.
- Use the caps and make coasters.
- Make custom planters for small herbs or succulents.
- Turn them into atmosphere lights or lanterns for the patio.
- Custom soap dispenser for the patio, bathroom, poolside bar or what have you.
- Design floating candles.
- Make your own custom chandelier or light fixture.
- Easy, inexpensive garden or flower bed edging.
- Automatic plant watering system.
- Customized shelving unit.
So, maybe “genius” is a bit strong, but we really like each and every one of these ideas. Equally important, they are easy, fun and generally inexpensive. All good things, in our humble opinion. Not to mention, if we want to keep crafting, we just have drink some more beer!
How to Reuse Beer Bottles
Beer bottles come in a variety of shapes, colors, diameters and even sizes. Whenever it matters which type to use, it’ll be in the description. Otherwise, be creative! Play with those different colors and shapes and see how they work for you.
- Glasses. Reusing beer bottles to make cute and inexpensive party glasses is a no-brainer! They will work great in your patio or pool-side bar. Since they already have the beer logo on the side, the party atmosphere is ingrained right in the glass.
Here’s how you make them. First, you will need a bottle or glass cutting tool. For all the possible tools you could need, there is a great kit on Amazon for about $30. It includes gloves for safety, a nice pedestal to hold your bottle in place, and even sandpaper to smooth out the rough edges after you cut.
The wonderful thing about having a bottle cutter is that you can use it over and over. In fact, this short list of 10 ways to reuse beer bottles has 3 or 4 different occasions where this single purchase would be used.
A cutter is not required, however. You can actually also cut a bottle with string or an ordinary glass cutter. Both of these methods are much more labor-intensive but can be done. Be forewarned, the edges will not come out nearly as straight or even as they will with a bottle cutter.
Once your bottle is cut to the size you want, simply use your sandpaper to smooth the drinking edges. Be sure to do a thorough job; you don’t want guests cutting their mouths on a sharp edge.
If you are still concerned about the edges, you could smooth a light coating of food-grade silicone across the rim.
- Coasters. All of those empty beer bottles once had bottle caps, right? We can use those caps to make some cool-looking coasters for our party glasses.
There are a couple of different ways to do this. The simplest way is to use 9 bottle caps (they don’t have to match) and place them in a square pattern, 3×3, on a piece of paper. This step is to lay out your pattern. The paper is to catch any spills or leaks you may have.
Once you know the layout, remove all the caps except the first 3. Using E6000 clear industrial glue, available at Amazon for about $14, glue the caps together in a straight line. We chose to go with the glue designed for rhinestones, as it has a smaller tip for cleaner application.
Once your first row is set, move to the next 3 caps and repeat the procedure, making your second row. Once row 2 is complete, I bet you already know you’re making row 3. After all 3 rows are done, simply connect rows 1 and 2. After they dry, connect row 3. After everything is dry, you have a cute, easy, inexpensive beverage coaster. You can glue a little felt or something on the bottom if you are concerned about scratching table surfaces.
If you want a look that is a little more upscale, you can make a coaster with the bottle caps set in epoxy. In this method, you’ll need molds to start with. There are some cute little silicone molds from Amazon; you get 3 different shapes for about $15. If you’re REALLY into DIY, you can make your own molds. There’s a cool YouTube video that shows you how.
Once you have your mold, set your bottle caps in place. How many you need will depend on the size of the mold you use. Set up the caps in the design or layout you like best.
Now, it’s time to add your resin. There are colored resins, clear resins and everything you might think of. You can even add little floaty bits, flowers or whatever strikes your personal fancy. A good choice is this clear resin designed for jewelry and crafts. It is sold as a package on Amazon, with 16 oz resin, 16 oz hardening agent, gloves, mixing cups and sticks. It runs about $25 for the entire package.
You are going to mix the resin and the hardener in a 1:1 ratio. Pour the epoxy mixture directly into the molds on top of my bottle cap design. Let the epoxy dry for about 8 hours. If you are concerned about the caps floating, you can pour a little in the bottom of the mold, let the caps dry in that first, then add the rest of the epoxy afterward.
If you develop air bubbles, you can use a little heat across the top of the coasters to release the bubbles. This will result in a nice clear epoxy.
- Planters. Obviously, these planters aren’t going to hold a huge plant, but for herbs or small succulents, they can do a really nice job and look good, too.
Here’s where you’d need that bottle cutter. Cut those bottles however deep works best for you and integrates any design you may like. Sand the edges to remove any sharp areas. Fill the planter appropriately with potting mix and plant whatever you choose.
As there will be no drainage holes, it is important that you don’t overwater your plants. In the case of succulents or cacti, be sure to let the soil dry down to a depth of at least ½” before watering again.
- Atmosphere lanterns. This works particularly well with colored beer bottles, though clear may be used as well. Also, you can use wine bottles, as well as beer bottles.
Use simple LED fairy lights like these we found on Amazon. Since beer bottles aren’t all that big, you just need a little 7’ strand. A 12-pack of lights is only about $13. For colored bottles, you’ll want to go with a bright white bulb. If your bottle is clear, you’ll probably find a softer yellow light gives you more ambience.
Simply open a package of the lights and extend it out slightly. The lights are strung together with a lightweight wire, so you do want to make sure it isn’t all balled up.
Feed the lights into the bottle. There is no organization or design involved. Basically, the light strand will go however it wants.
Remember that if using beer bottles, the cork style lights may not fit properly. If you’re using a wine bottle and want to simplify by using the cork style lights, they are available for about $12 for a 10 pack.
As the lights are battery operated, you will need to make sure the on/off switch is outside the bottle. You can chose to hot glue it into the bottom of the bottle cap. Then make sure the bottle cap could be easily removed by bending the sides out slightly all the way around, using needle-nose pliers.
To turn on your new lantern, simply remove the top or cap, flip the switch to on, put the cap back on and now you have really pretty ambient lighting on the patio.
Some folks like to use a self-adhesive tape to add design and color. Here is a really great YouTube video on that process, if you’re interested.
- Soap Dispenser. Depending on your personal style, a beer bottle soap dispenser may add a little fun to your kitchen, bathroom, patio or pool bar. This is another super easy and inexpensive way to reuse those empty beer bottles. This works best with a beer bottle that has a screw off cap. You’ll want to use those threads to put the soap dispenser head on the bottle.
Size can matter in this DIY project. Not all bottle tops are the same, but all soap dispenser heads are. You can’t just order a random size online. Beer bottles are narrower at the top and have a different threading pattern than your soap dispenser does. To address this difference, be sure to buy soap dispenser heads that have a collar.
To make the soap dispenser, simply clean your bottle thoroughly (unless you like beer-scented soap). Then add your favorite soap product. Get the dispenser head collar and hot glue it to the top of the bottle neck. It should simply slip right over the neck with no problem.
Depending on the soap dispenser head you purchase, you may have to attach the tubing. Most tubing comes in 7-9” lengths. If you need something smaller, simply cut the bottom to fit. You can now screw the dispenser head into the collar and voila! You have a custom-made soap dispenser.
I purchased my soap dispenser heads on Amazon. I got a package of 2 stainless steel soap dispenser heads, with 6½” tubing for about $13. If stainless steel isn’t your thing, Amazon has other finishes, including bronze, gold, brushed gold, brushed silver and so on.
- Floating Candles. You have to admit, this one sounds pretty cool. Honestly, it’s even cooler than it sounds. You need to pull out that handy-dandy bottle cutter again. Cut your bottle to whatever size/height you prefer. May as well make sure you leave that party logo in place. Sand the edges for safety and to make sure you have a nice smooth surface area.
Add water, any type is fine, to about 2/3 the depth of the bottle. Slow and carefully add cooking oil on top of the water. You can use canola, olive, corn, vegetable, soy or whatever you prefer. The important thing to remember is to add very slowly. We are taking advantage of the old adage “oil and water don’t mix”. We want to float the oil on top of the water. You’ll want the oil depth to, be at least ¼”.
Next, you’ll need a piece of plastic. Not Saran wrap plastic, but more like paper sleeve plastic. You want a little rigidity and firmness. I used sleeve protectors I had at home. You can also find them on Amazon for around $12 per 100.
Measure the diameter of the top of your cut bottle. You need to cut a circular piece of plastic just slightly smaller than that diameter. It doesn’t need to be perfect, so don’t stress it too much. Find the approximate center of that circle and cut a very small “x” in it. This is where you wick is going to go.
Next, you need to add a wick. A bag of 100 cotton wicks, lightly coated with soy to reduce smoking online from Amazon is about $13. Carefully thread one end of the wick through the “x” you have cut in the center of your plastic. You want about 1” above the top of the plastic circle.
Tape or glue part of the remainder to the underneath portion of your plastic, so it leads to the edge of the circle. Cut off any that extends past the circle. Grasping the wick by the 1” end, carefully and gently float the plastic circle on top of the oil. Give the wick a few minutes to absorb enough of the oil, then you can light the wick right up. The wick will pull the oil up, allowing it to burn while the entire candle is floating on water.
You can get really creative here. Want to add food coloring to the water? Go ahead. Want to add some seashells or flowers? Go ahead. Since I’m near the ocean and have a beachy theme to my patio, I added a small amount of blue food coloring, a couple of little shells and a little plastic treasure chest to the bottom of my bottle. It really looks great!
For other ideas or if you need more clarification on this process, there is an excellent YouTube video you can follow.
- Chandelier. This is inspired by a chandelier in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The venue is a Mexican food restaurant, and they used green Dos Equis bottles for the chandelier. It’s really awesome. However, it’s also HUGE, like industrial sized. We don’t need anything that big or that elaborate.
There are a couple of ways you can do this, depending on how fancy you want to get and how much money you want to spend. The fanciest would be to buy a used chandelier. You’re likely to get a great deal on one from ReStore from Habitat for Humanity. Most towns with a Habitat chapter have a ReStore associated with it.
Pick up an ugly, but working, chandelier or light system that you like. It’s perfectly fine if some of the glass/plastic parts are broken or missing. What matters is that the frame is intact and that it works. You’ll probably pay somewhere around $20 to $50.
If it is the style that has “candles” for the lightbulbs to fit in, you can simply slide the beer bottle upside down right over the top of the bulb. In this scenario, please secure the bottles in place or make sure the “candle” goes far enough into the bottle to prevent it from falling and injuring a dinner guest. I can’t imagine explaining that to an insurance adjuster!
If your chosen light system/chandelier has the globe type of fixtures, you can cut the bottle down to preferred size. You could then slide the bottle in place over the light bulb. Use the little screws on the side to hold the bottle in place, just like you would with the globes.
If you want to get fancy and know how to do a little electrical wiring, you could get a pretty cool look. Using your bottle cutter, remove the bottom of the beer bottle. As always, sand thoroughly to ensure smooth edges.
Place your bulb inside the bottle, with the electric wiring feeding out through the top. Wire your electric wiring directly into your home wiring system. This is a seriously cool look.
The restaurant in Cabo had 3 large metal circles, decreasing in diameter. They had the candle style mentioned earlier. With the lights shining through the green beer bottles, it’s pretty, eye-catching and representative of their restaurant style, as well.
- Garden or flower bed edging. This is very straight-forward and requires nothing but the bottles and a little of your time. Pick your garden area, flower bed or what have you that you want edged. Dig a hole 2-3” deep. Place your bottle neck side down into the hold and fill around until it’s stable.
Line the bottles side by side the entire way around the area you want edged. If you’re feeling even more creative, before burying your bottles, you can paint them! Try Unicorn Spit. Sounds like a stupid name but it’s an AWESOME product.
For an abstract art look, simply drizzle the colors directly on the upside-down bottles, let them dry and you’re done. If you are more artistic, you could paint some nice sunflowers or daisies on the body part of the bottle. Let it dry and then get to work digging.
If you’re concerned about the weather (think rain) resistant nature of Unicorn Spit, it is dishwasher safe with the application of Modge Podge. You can get Unicorn Spit from Amazon. An 8-pack of assorted colors in the 8oz size is about $130. That’s not very inexpensive, but you can dilute it with water to achieve lighter looks, if you prefer. You can also get Mod Podge on Amazon. This isn’t cheap either. An 8oz container of dishwasher safe water base sealer runs about $10.
- Automatic plant watering system. This is a little different, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. Know you’re going to be out of town for a while? Worried about those plants getting watered? Here’s an easy fix that will also repurpose those empties laying around the house.
Fill a beer bottle about ¾ full of water. Use whatever water you generally use when watering your plants. Stick the bottle, neck down, into the soil of your plant’s pot. The soil will keep most of the water in the bottle, initially. As the soil dries, it will pull additional water from the bottle, literally self-watering the plant.
Since the neck is in the area of the root, the watering is efficient. How long that water will last and how often you’ll need to refill the bottle is dependent on what type of plant you have and how big the pot is. The bigger the plant or pot, the quicker the bottle will run empty.
- Shelves. Wow does this one sound way out there! It’s not really the shelves we’re making from the beer bottles, but rather the legs of the shelves. You will need some wood planks. As long as you want your shelves and around 4” to 6” wide. I would recommend something like 3’ to 4’ long. Remember, you don’t want to go entertainment system sized, your supports are beer bottles!
Place your bottles on all 4-corners of the bottom shelf. Drill a 1” hole about 2” from the edges of the 4 corners of shelf 2. Thread the neck of each bottle through those holes. You now have a 2-shelf bookshelf. If you want to go higher, make another 2-shelf system, just like the one you just completed.
We would recommend adding a brace to the center of the top shelf on the bottom unit. This brace needs to be the same height as the neck of the bottles sticking through the holes. Attach the brace with screws to Gorilla Wood Glue.
Place the second set of shelves on top of the first set you’ve completed. If you want extra stability, you can Gorilla Glue or screw this set to the installed brace, as well. We would not go any higher than 4 shelves with this design.
If you need a visual to clarify these steps, you can see the completed project online
We promised you 10 genius ways to reuse or repurpose beer bottles. Just because you’re cool, here’s a bonus option. Refill the bottle with more beer!! That’s right, if you or someone you know is into home brewing, these bottles are reusable and refillable with their favorite product.
The bottles need to be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized. Simply running them through the dishwasher should do the job. The washing cycle cleans out any gunk in the bottle and the steam action at the end does the sterilization for you… so all the little bacteria are gone.
Of course, you will need bottle caps and a way to apply them. Some home brewers have a really advanced system. Don’t fret if you don’t, Amazon has you covered. You can pick up a manual bottle capper, complete with 144 bottle caps for the whopping price of about $25. Honestly, this is our favorite way to reuse a beer bottle!
Reusing or repurposing items like beer bottles, wine bottles and so on is a creative and fun way to keep ourselves occupied and to keep the bottles out of our landfills. Keeping glass bottles, regardless of content, out of landfills is of paramount importance.
Though no one knows for sure, it is estimated that a glass bottle will take 1,000,000 (that’s 1 million) years to break down in the environment, but it is infinitely recyclable. If you choose not to use any of the suggestions given, please at the very least recycle that empty bottle. It is easy to do, inexpensive, and of far greater impact than you can imagine. Your children and your planet will thank you.