How to Recycle Plastic Bottles for Chandeliers

Written by benna crawford
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How to Recycle Plastic Bottles for Chandeliers
Drink the water but don't ditch the bottle; hang it from your ceiling. (Siri Stafford/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

See the light about plastic bottles and recycle them into a whimsical light fixture to brighten up your green home. Use an existing ceiling fixture -- more recycling -- and collect bottles from your home use. There are fabulous designer water bottle chandeliers featured in trade shows and home design galleries. They can serve as inspiration for your own simple or elaborate version so you save twice: once on the money you lay out for a new chandelier and again on the amount of trash you send to the landfill.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Six or more empty plastic quart-sized bottles
  • Utility knife
  • Six or more lengths of coated electrical wire
  • Scissors or wire cutters (optional)
  • Lamp sockets
  • Screwdriver
  • Metal hose clamp
  • Ceiling cap
  • 4 wire nuts
  • Six or more LED light bulbs

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  1. 1

    Cut the bottom quarter from quart-size soda or milk bottles, leaving the spout end intact but setting any bottle caps aside for some other project. Be precise about the cut lines; get them really even. For a less eclectic look, use all the same type bottles.

  2. 2

    Attach each wire to a bulb socket, following the directions for that socket. In general, you will push the wire through the top nipple of the socket, separate the strands of each wire to each side of the socket, strip an inch of the wire coating off each end -- use the utility knife for this -- and wrap the raw wires around the posts on the socket. The wires with the smooth coating go on the brass screw, and the wires with the ridged coating on the silver screw. Tighten the screws to hold the wires snugly against the socket.

  3. 3

    Poke the wire for a light fixture through the spout of each bottle from the inside, keeping the screw-in bulb connector inside the plastic bottle. Use ceramic or plastic bulb sockets -- all the same kind if you are sticking to a uniform look. Arrange the bottles at the same height or randomly so they hang at uneven heights.

  4. 4

    Thread the wires through the ceiling cap that fits against the ceiling and gather them in a bunch as tightly as possible with a metal hose clamp. The bunch and the hose clamp will be inside the cap when it is mounted against the ceiling. Use a utility knife to cut 1½ inches of the plastic coating from the ends of the wires. Twist the neutral wires together and the hot wires together. The neutral wires have a ridged plastic wire coating; the hot wires have a smooth coating.

  5. 5

    Cut a pigtail from a piece of wire about 6 inches long, separate the ends at each side about 2 inches and strip the ends of all four wires. It's easy to separate the ends of the wires; they just pull apart.

  6. 6

    Twist the bunch of neutral wires from the lamps to the neutral wire on one side of the pigtail and cover the twisted ends with a wire nut. Do the same for the hot wires. Check to see that the power is turned off and wire the other end of the pigtail to the wires in your ceiling, using wire nuts to cover the twisted connections. The black wire in the ceiling is the hot wire and the white wire is the neutral wire.

  7. 7

    Replace the ceiling cover, and the chandelier should now hang in place. Insert LED bulbs into the sockets inside the plastic bottles through the bottom opening. Turn on the fixture at the wall switch and admire your new, saved-from-the-trash-and-trendy chandelier.

Tips and warnings

  • Use LED bulbs that don't emit heat as an extra precaution for a plastic chandelier. The open ends of the bottles provide sufficient ventilation, but safer is smarter.
  • In the event that you live in an older dwelling with old or indistinguishable wiring, you may need the services of a licensed electrician. Opt for caution rather than bravado when the wiring attempt is not straightforward.

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