Since I have started hosting BYOB Classes I have had quite a few beer bottles and wine bottles to recycle. Oh who am I kidding, I also added a few bottles to the recycle bin.
I did a bit of research and found that the easiest way to do this at home would be a kit and so I ordered Ephtam's Bottle Cutter Kit.
You are not actually cutting the glass, instead you are scoring the glass and then using extreme temperature shifts to crack the glass along the line that you scored. I would say it works about 90% of the time with beer bottles and about 75% with wine bottles. Wine bottles are a little trickier because they are thicker.
First you will need to clean the bottles. In order to clean the labels off I usually soak the bottles in hot water until the labels peel off. I found using a fork to scrape them off saved my finger nails. I use Bon Ami because it is does not use any harsh chemicals and it works really well. Sprinkle Bon Ami on a damp bottle and using a sponge scrub. It works best when the bottle is damp but not wet because you are using the Bon Ami as an abrasive cleaner.
On to the cutting. First step is to adjust how tall you want your candle holder to be. As you can see in the picture above there is a screw you can loosen to slide and then tighten the screw where you want it.
Then you put the bottle on the rollers and as you can see in the picture below there is a cutting wheel which will score the bottle.
The most difficult part is keeping the bottle steady as you turn it and lining it up to make the score mark match. You also do not want to over score. Keep an eye on the score mark and go slow as it starts to meet up. You will actually hear a slight grind noise when the score ends meet up. That is your clue that you have made a complete circle.
According to Ephram's instructions you are supposed to take the enclosed candle, light it, and slowly twist the bottle at the score mark over the candle. Then you are to get an ice cube, or if your lucky, go outside and get some snow and rub it over the score mark. The contrast between hot and cold will crack the bottle along that line. Yeah, that didn't work so well.
Here is what did work. Boil some hot water. If you have a tea kettle use that because pouring will be easier. Pour the hot water over the bottle along that score line. You probably want to make about 2-3 slow turns. Then you immediately plunge the bottle into ice water. Nine times out of ten you will hear a clink as the top and the bottom separate. If that does not work take the bottle out of the water and gently pull the bottom away from the top. Do not twist! That will usually do it, but if it doesn't try heating and cooling it again.
Sand down the sharp edges with the sand paper in the kit and you are done.
A couple of notes: a couple will crack, but that's ok, go drink more beer and try again; as I mentioned beer bottles are pretty quick and easy, but wine bottles may need to sit in the ice bath a little longer or take a second round; and finally if you have an ice cream machine use the frozen bowl to dunk your bottles-it makes it quick and easy.
Originally published 3/18/14