Ultimate Guide to Recycled Soda Bottle Crafts

Don’t toss that empty soda bottle. Instead, keep it to create a candleholder or decorative mobile.
Don’t toss that empty soda bottle. Instead, keep it to create a candleholder or decorative mobile.

Say you're driving to a party across town, and you decide to stop at a gas station to fill your car's tank. You're thirsty, so you head over to the refrigerated drink section. Choices abound from water to juice to energy drinks, but an ice cold soda sounds the most refreshing. Not only do you select a single serving bottle of soda, but you also grab a 2-liter bottle to bring to the party. As you pay for the soda, do you think about what you'll do with the bottles once they're empty? If you toss them into the trashcan, it could take up to 700 years for the plastic to break down in a landfill. If you recycle the plastic bottles, they will go to a plastics processing plant, which transforms them into new products [source: Energy Quest]. But have you ever thought about crafting something new from your used plastic bottles?

Reusing soda bottles for crafts is a good way to utilize creativity, save money and save the Earth. But you might ask, why soda bottles? The great thing about soda bottles is their versatility. You can use soda bottles for many different craft projects. You may remember using 2-liter soda bottles and water in elementary school science class to mimic a tornado, or maybe you have fond memories of building a soda bottle bird feeder at camp [source: SPSA]. These are just a few examples of the numerous creative crafts that can be made using old soda bottles. In this article, you'll learn how to make four different crafts out of empty soda bottles, including a dome display, a candleholder, a hanging mobile and a noise maker.

Tackling any of these craftsy plans would provide a fun-filled afternoon for the family. Just remember, as with any craft project, you should supervise children closely while they're working with the tools these recycled soda bottle projects require.

To start getting craftsy, click to the next page to transform your soda bottle into a decorative dome display.

Recycled Soda Bottle Dome Display

A dome display is a transparent dome made out of glass or plastic used to display an object [source: Dadcando]. The recycled plastic dome display that you will learn to create here will be less expensive, more kid-friendly and better for the environment than its glass counterpart.

First, you'll need an empty 2-liter soda bottle. A 2-liter bottle is the best size for this project because it provides room for objects of many different sizes. Rinse the bottle with water and remove the label. You may want to have a rag and turpentine or fingernail polish remover on hand to remove any stubborn adhesive marks left behind by the label. Cut off the bottom of the bottle a few inches above the compartmentalized segments that make up the base. You might need to use a small knife to puncture the bottle and then use scissors to cut off the bottom.

Next, you'll need to choose a base for your dome display. A good base usually has two parts: a flat bottom and a raised display pad glued on top that fits just inside the cut bottom of the soda bottle. You might use a wood circle for the flat bottom and a Styrofoam or floral foam disk for the raised display surface [source: Lenoir]. You can find these materials at most craft and hobby stores.

Once you've assembled your base, you'll need to decide on a theme, select objects to display and choose materials to accent the dome display. Keep your theme in mind when you decorate the base. You'll also want to attach a finial, or knob, with a hot glue gun to cover the top and neck of the bottle. Use your imagination to choose materials or objects for the knob. It should match the theme of your display and also act as a handle to lift the dome off the base when you want to change the display inside.

(For our young readers, be sure to get help from a parent or teacher while removing adhesive, cutting the bottle and using the hot glue gun.)

But if this idea doesn't spark your creativity, click to the next page and learn how to craft soda bottle candle holders.

Recycled Soda Bottle Candleholders

Do you have candles without holders cluttering your closets and empty soda bottles crowding your countertops? If so, you have the components needed to create candleholders. Use a small water bottle to create a candleholder for a tall, skinny taper candle or a 2-liter soda bottle for a short, squat votive candle.

To make a taper candleholder, you'll need a plastic water bottle with a mouthpiece that fits snugly over the candle's base and a pair of scissors [source: Designboom]. Rinse out the bottle and remove the label. Mark a line 1 to 2 inches (3 to 5 cm) below the mouthpiece. Poke a hole in the plastic with the scissors to begin cutting on the line that you've marked. Insert the taper through the mouthpiece until its base is level with the cut opening of the bottle. Place the candleholder on a flat surface to make sure it stands upright. Trim any rough or uneven edges if the candle tips over. If you save up a few more plastic bottles, you can make a complete set of candleholders for your dining room table.

If you prefer votive candles to taper candles, you can make a votive candleholder using a 2-liter soda bottle. First you'll need to rinse out the soda bottle and remove the label. Then, remove remnant glue with a rag and turpentine or nail polish remover. Be sure to rinse the outside of the bottle if you use either of these flammable substances. Then plan a design to cut out from the walls of the bottle, such as a wave pattern. Give the plastic shapes a jolt of color using multicolored permanent markers [source: Instructables]. Make sure you color the outside walls rather than the inside walls. When you've finished cutting and coloring, place a votive candle in the bottom of the bottle and watch your colorful creation glow!

Is your creativity heating up, or are you ready to hang it up? If so, read the next page to learn how to construct a soda bottle mobile.

Recycled Soda Bottle Mobiles

A themed soda bottle mobile is an inexpensive craft that's perfect for a baby shower gift or a decorative addition to a child's room. To create a fish mobile, you'll need four 1-liter plastic bottles with caps, scissors, a stapler, two wire hangers, acrylic paint, paintbrushes, googlie eyes or buttons, glue, a thumbtack, fishing line, duct tape and ribbon [sources: Jackson, Reyzer].

Rinse out the bottles, dry them and remove the labels. Remove any glue residue with cooking oil [source: Jackson]. Then use scissors to carefully cut off the entire bottom of each bottle. Use a paintbrush to paint the inside of each bottle. You can experiment with designs or patterns to create different kinds of fish.

When your painted designs are dry, lay each bottle horizontally and pinch together the opposite sides of the bottle's open end. Staple the middle of these two sides together. Cut out a piece from either side of the staple to form fins and a tail [source: Reyzer]. Glue on buttons or googlie eyes for the eyes of the fish [source: Jackson]. Then push a thumbtack into of the top of each fish and thread your desired length of fishing line through the hole to hang the fish from the mobile. Knot the bottom of the string inside the bottle so it stays put. Repeat these steps for each bottle.

When your bottle fish are finished, assemble your mobile. Remove the cardboard bottom from each hanger so that the two wire arms remain. Tape the hooks of the hangers together and decorate them with ribbons and a bow. Move the four arms apart so that they are evenly spaced apart. Attach the fishing line to each end of the hanger, covering the joined ends with a bow [source: Jackson]. Then hang your mobile from the ceiling and watch the fish swim through the air!

If a soda bottle mobile is too quiet a craft for you, get ready to shake things up with a soda bottle noise maker on the next page.

Recycled Soda Bottle Noise Makers

What do fans at a sporting event, New Year's Eve revelers, and babies and toddlers have in common? Whether it's to show support, celebrate, or play, they all like to use noise makers! Here's how to make your own noise makers at home from recycled soda bottles for a fraction of what they cost at a party supply or toy store.

Creating soda bottle noise makers is a fun and inexpensive craft activity for kids and adults alike. Plus, you're helping the environment by finding a new use for empty soda bottles and keeping them out of landfills. Look around your house, and you'll find that you probably already have all the materials you'll need to make your own noise maker.

Choose a small soda bottle for your noise maker, since this is a good size for children's hands. Rinse out the bottle and let it dry. Gather art supplies -- such as markers, paint, construction paper and glue -- to decorate the outside of the bottle. Then think of materials that will make the best sound inside the plastic bottle, such as pebbles or dry beans [sources: James, The Savvy Source]. Pour the pebbles or beans into the bottle and secure the top. Decorate the bottle with your art supplies and get ready to cheer, celebrate and play!

You can enjoy creating these soda bottle craft projects or challenge yourself to come up with your own ideas. Remember, crafting with soda bottles is a great way to recycle, reduce and reuse.

To learn more, see the next page for additional resources.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

Sources

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  • Designboom. "water PET bottle." 08/2009. (Accessed 4/2/09) http://www.designboom.com/eng/education/plasticbottle.html
  • Encyclopædia Britannica. "floral decoration." Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 2009. (Accessed 4/10/09) http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/210629/floral-decoration
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  • James, Emily. "Noise Makers." Kids Craft Zone. (Accessed 4/2/09) http://kidscraftzone.com/post/Noise-Makers.aspx
  • Lenoir, Twila. "How to Make a Soda Bottle Dome Display." All Free Crafts. (Accessed 4/2/09)http://www.allfreecrafts.com/recycling-crafts/soda-bottle-dome.shtml
  • Reyzer, Michele. "Building Nemo." NWF. (Accessed 4/2/09) http://www.nwf.org/kidzone/kzPage.cfm?siteId=3&departmentId=78&articleId=969
  • The Savvy Source. "New Year's Noisemakers." (Accessed 4/2/09) http://www.savvysource.com/activities/activity_a1-2i1022_NewYear'sNoisemakers
  • SPSA. "Recycled Craft Projects." (Accessed 4/2/09) http://www.spsa.com/pdfs/kidscorner/crafts_recycled%20craft%20projects.pdf