Uses for Milk Cartons

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January 27, 2010

Uses for Milk CartonsMy dad frequently went fishing and shrimping at the beach, so our freezer was always full of scrumptious, fresh tasting seafood. His secret was to re-use waxed cardboard milk cartons, cleaned and with the top completely opened up.


My mother would put in the fish or shrimp and fill the carton with water, leaving room at the top to fold it closed, and staple it shut. Into the freezer it went, where it was solidly frozen to make the trip home in a cooler. My parents have both passed away, but I haven't forgotten the "fresh" seafood that my mother cooked for us year round.

By Sandy from Elon, NC

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August 19, 2010

Fun way to cook hot dogs while camping. Kids love doing this.


September 26, 2007

Prevent scratches on your floor with cardbaord milk cartons. Cut off the top part of the milk carton and slip the lower part on furniture legs.


Then you can slide heavy furniture without fear of scratching your floor.


July 26, 2011

Recycle plastic milk containers into handy little boxes by cutting the square sections apart then joining the two squares together. The trick in making the square sections of milk containers fit together is simply to squeeze the top and sides at the same time.


July 25, 2007

I really didn't know where to put this tip, it covers so many aspects! Instead of lugging home a bottle/packet of commercial plant fertilizer, try this quick and easy tip.


January 15, 2005

Tips for reusing 4 liter milk containers. Post your ideas.


10 Questions

Here are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community.

January 3, 2005

I have heard about people on Christmas Eve surrounding their house with candles in milk bottles or cartons. I would like to hear from anyone who can give me details on how this is done. Is it plastic bottles or cartoons used? Are they painted and do they have sand in them? Or is there anything else about them you can tell me so I can make them next year?

Lyn Morley From Australia


January 4, 20050 found this helpful

This is the way they do it in El Paso, Texas. You need brown paper sacks, lunch size. Fill part way with sand. Put in a candle.


Arrange around outside of house or on rooftops. Christmas Eve, light the candles. To clean up, just throw away.

By Sammy (Guest Post)
January 4, 20050 found this helpful

In Illinois, USA, they use plastic milk jugs, gallon size, not cartons. Cut it with scissors so that the handle is still there, but only half of the other side -- the top is gone. Put an inch or two of sand or kitty litter or dirt in the bottom, put the candle in, and let them 'shine' I have lived all over the world and paper sacks are not available everywhere.

By Marylin (Guest Post)
January 4, 20050 found this helpful

Use the gallon plastic milk jugs. Cut a flap in the back so you can put in a couple inches of sand. Stick a tealite candle in the middle on top of the sand.


Light and it will go out on it's own during the night. Next night put another candle in.

January 5, 20050 found this helpful

I did this with the youth group at church a couple of years ago. We used the 1/2 gal. plastic milk jugs and I cut them to about 4-5 inches tall leaving the part that has the handle attached. I had the kids each paint one with acryllic washable paints. Then after dry, I painted over them with Modge-Podge to make them have a clear sealer and shine. I put an inch of sand in, then a tea-light candle. We light them and placed on the rock wall of either side of the church steps on the evening of the annual Christmas program. They added a glow to the evening and the kids had fun doing it!

By rebecca (Guest Post)
January 22, 20050 found this helpful

Milk Carton Candles
From Holiday Inspirations

A touch of glitter makes these candles special.

Decorate a mantle with milk-carton
candles and evergreen.


These milk-carton candles update a 1970s craft with a twist: use a taper candle instead of candle wicking. For fun, add a sprinkling of glitter before pouring the melted wax.

What You Need:
Clean half-gallon cardboard milk carton
A pan and a large clean can
Broken ice
10-inch white taper candle
Large spoon
2-1/2 to 3 pounds of wax and 3/4 cup of stearin (to make the wax burn better) or use 2-1/2 to 3 pounds of wax or wax crystals with hardener already added
Candlemaking thermometer
Superfine glitter

1. Break the wax into chunks and place it in the can. Pour a few inches of water in the pan, then set the can of wax in the water. Bring the water to simmering and let the wax melt. (To make pouring the wax easier, you may wish to bend the can at the top to form a spout before putting the wax in.)


2. Add stearin to the melted wax. If you're using wax crystals or wax with hardener added, follow the manufacturer's instructions for melting.

3. Partially fill the milk carton with broken ice cubes. Center a taper in the milk carton, then continue filling the carton with ice. Tap the carton on your work surface to settle the ice, then add more ice. Sprinkle glitter over the ice.

4. Let the wax cool to 170 degrees F, then pour it into the carton. As the wax cools and shrinks, add more ice or wax to keep the top of the candle level.

5. After the wax hardens completely, peel the cardboard carton away from the sides. Trim the top of the taper so it's level with the top of the candle, leaving 1/2 inch of wick. If the bottom of the candle isn't level, slide it across an old warm skillet to smooth any rough spots.

Caution: Wax is extremely flammable. Never melt wax directly over heat or to a temperature above 220 degrees F. Never leave melting wax unattended; if it starts to smoke, remove the pan from the heat immediately. If wax catches fire, smother the flame with a pan lid; don't throw water on the flame. Never leave a burning candle unattended, and never burn candles where the flame might come in contact with flammable surfaces or objects.

October 15, 20090 found this helpful

Oh the memories. I made these with my Mom back in the 1940s. But we didn't use a taper candle, we used a cotton wick wrapped around a pencil that we laid across the top of the carton. Some of them were really beautiful. We would put in a layer of one color, wait for it to harden, and then add the next layer of another color. We gave those as gifts. The failures (ugly colors) were used at home!

October 16, 20090 found this helpful

I use the half gallon wax cartons that come with juice etc, or the 1qt size (like hold EggNog). I crack ice cubes with the rounded part of the spoon. You want the chunks of ice about the size of 1/6 or a little smaller. You don't want them too big or too small. They form the holes in the candle.

Pour a little wax at the bottom of the carton so you have a solid bottom for the candle. Put the taper (contrasting color is pretty) in the middle, and load up the wax carton. Pour the rest of the melted wax in the carton. Let the ice melt.

When you think the ice is melted, get rid of the water (probably not in your drains, there is wax in it. I pour it outside someplace.).

Carefully peel the wax carton back/off your candle. It will be beautiful and like Swiss cheese. The colored center taper will melt the wax down through the tunnels and holes in the candle. Kids love it. We have some that were decorated 10 years ago, and get out again every year. You can wrap with fabric ribbon, hot glue acorns/pinecones/gold or silver baubles. Very pretty.

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September 25, 2007

Does anyone have any craft ideas using those half pint milk cartons?

Theresa from Hibbing, MN


September 26, 20070 found this helpful

Make a village or better yet a castle. You can even make it sand castle. Leave one carton with the peaked top as is. For the others, fold down the peak as flat as possible and tape securely. Stack the cartons to the tower height u want, taping them together and with the carton that has the peak on top. Coat with a good white glue, a section at a time, and roll the glued area in fine beach sand (or use the colored stuff for fish aquariums if u can get a good deal somewhere) When thoroughly dry, cut out windows, doors etc. Mini dioramas would be easy too. Open the peaked top all the way open, set up your scene inside(eg. Nativity with miniature Mary, Joseph and baby, on straw or colored paper shreds(like for Easter baskets) Close the top back up and staple. Add craft sticks for roof, sides and back and paint brown. Be sure to leave an area uncovered for a small peephole on the back side of the carton. Cut the peephole to let light in. This could also be done on the roof so that the light comes from above like it was the Holy Star shining down.Glue black paper or colored black cardboard or bristol board cut to fit on the front. Cut a large peephole through the black card and the carton. When someone looks through the hole, they will see a lit scene of the birth of the Holy Child.

By Kelly (Guest Post)
September 26, 20070 found this helpful

Wash out the 1/2 pint milk carton and cover it with Tin Foil. Take a dab of icing and put it on the bottom of the carton, then place it on a plate. Then spread some icing all over the carton and some on the plate for snow. Stick some square cookies on the milk carton and decorate it to look like a gingerbread house. Then take the extra candies and make a garden around it.

By Rosa (Guest Post)
September 26, 20070 found this helpful

Fill them with homemade suet for the birds, hang in mesh bags. They love these.

September 27, 20070 found this helpful

if you make candles, this is perfect for large square ones.
and if you put ice in the was it will leave holes and interesting patterns. A friend of mine did this with her cub scouts and they loved it.

By Syd (Guest Post)
September 29, 20070 found this helpful

I used them in a project at the nursing home.

I prepared a great deal of the add ons and had the
residents paste to the milk carton and had cute little
bird houses.

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February 16, 2017

Recycle a half gallon milk carton to make this classy gift basket. This page has a pattern for making a recycled milk carton basket.

A basket made from milk cartons.


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January 27, 2010

While growing up in an area with lakes & rivers all around, my family did a lot of fishing. All my family would save all their empty 1/2 gallon milk cartons. Wash them and put them up to dry, and then give them to the fishermen of the family. When the fresh catches of the day were scaled, cleaned & ready for the refrigerator or freezer. The fish were put in a clean, dry milk carton with some salt water.

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