How to melt plastic bottles

Written by philippa jones
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How to melt plastic bottles
Turn old used plastic bottles into new shapes using moulds. (Container of milk. Plastic milk bottle image by L. Shat from

Melting plastic bottles should be approached cautiously, as the gases released when some plastics melt are toxic. Furthermore, without professional tools you may damage equipment or injure yourself. However, it is possible to reform plastic bottles into parts for games or unique gifts by melting them, and then by pouring the melted plastic into a mould. This is one way of recycling them. It's important to supervise children when undertaking this task, as the plastic will heat up to 177 degrees C (350 degrees F).

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Toaster oven
  • Warm, soapy water
  • Metal tin
  • Scissors
  • Oven mitten or tongs

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  1. 1

    Set up the toaster oven outside. This avoids filling your house with the stench of melting plastic. Make sure that the weather is fine, so that the rain does not damage equipment or cause electrocution.

  2. 2

    Wash the plastic bottles thoroughly using warm, soapy water and remove any labelling or packaging that is not plastic. Throw this debris away.

  3. 3

    Remove the caps from the plastic bottles and put these in the metal tin. Cut up the plastic bottles into small pieces that fit inside the metal tin. Try and keep the pieces even, so that they melt at the same time.

  4. 4

    Put the pieces of plastic in the metal tin. Do not pile the plastic higher than the edge of the tin.

  5. 5

    Switch the toaster oven on and heat it up to 177 degrees C (350 degrees F). Put the metal tin on the shelf in the oven. If the bottles do not melt at this temperature, turn the heater up.

  6. 6

    Check after three minutes to see whether the plastic bottle pieces have melted. Use a hand mitten or tongs to remove the metal tin from the oven. This is an important safety point to avoid burning your hands or spilling hot plastic on your skin.

  7. 7

    Replace the metal tin if the bottles are not yet melted. Keep checking on their progress until the plastic has melted. Once you have finished, don't forget to turn the toaster oven off and return it to the kitchen.

Tips and warnings

  • Use a variety of different coloured plastics to create unique patterns and shapes.
  • Make beads, pendants, toys or other items from melted plastic.
  • Separate different colours or types of plastic, so that when melted, they can be layered for effect into moulds.
  • Wear a mask to prevent breathing in the fumes that are emitted from melted plastic.

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