What to do with Old Stainless Steel Water Bottles

Most likely you bought a reusable steel water bottle for both the health and financial benefits. It’s also comforting to know they’re better for the environment than plastic water bottles. But after a few years of hiking and countless trips to the gym, you might consider retiring this steel accessory.

But now you’re left wondering what to do with an old stainless steel water bottle. Can you throw it in the recycling bin? And if not, what should you do with it?

How to recycle a metal water bottle

Unfortunately, traditional curbside recycling programs will not recycle your metal water bottle. The main reason is that these recycling programs crush and bale material for easy transport. Usually, your steel bottle can’t be crushed.

But before you decide what you’re going to do with your bottle, you need to determine what metal it is made of. Metal is broken down into two categories: ferrous and nonferrous. This sounds complicated, but there’s an easy way to determine what type of metal you have.

All you have to do is simply use a magnet. If your bottle is attracted, it’s ferrous metal; if it’s not attracted, then it’s nonferrous metal. You’ve probably heard there’s value in recycling metal. But it’s going to require a lot of metal bottles to get much of a return. Scrap metal recyclers pay based on the ton – the most you’ll receive for your single old steel bottle is a few cents.

Understanding the difference between Ferrous and Nonferrous Metals

If you do find yourself with a stockpile of old metal water bottles (or just a lot of metal in general) and want to know the value, then you might want to know exactly what type of metal you have. This will allow you to estimate its value.

Here are a few simple guidelines from Verichek:

Ferrous Metals

  • Steel will easily stick to a magnet. However, it’s one of the cheapest and heaviest metals around.
  • Iron is also magnetic. And it’s one of the most recycled metals on the planet.

Nonferrous Metals

- Copper is one of the most valuable metals that you can recycle. When it’s in good condition it has a reddish tint. It can be found in computer cables, power cords, and old extension cords. It may also be found in old plumbing pipes, cooking pans, and electromagnets.
- Aluminum may look like steel, but it won’t stick to magnets. Window frames, car hoods, bicycles, motorbikes, and old soda cans contain aluminum.
- Stainless steel is made of 70% iron. But it is still considered a nonferrous metal and commands a higher price per pound because it contains, at least, 8% nickel. Appliances, kitchenware, and some automotive equipment contain stainless steel.
- Brass is a combination of zinc and copper. It’s often found in keys, valves, doorknobs, and faucets. It has a yellowish color with a hint of red. It will take on a greenish color if left outside for a long time.
- Bronze is a product made of numerous metals including copper, tin, manganese, zinc, aluminum, and nickel. It often looks similar to brass or copper, but it’s water and corrosion-resistant.
- Because of its corrosion resistance and malleability, lead is often used for industrial purposes.

    To learn more about the different metals and the value of recycling, go to Verichek.net.

    Where to find a scrap metal yard

    Remember, your steel water bottle can last over 12 years. But we understand if you’re ready to part ways with it. If that’s the case, you need to find the nearest scrap metal yard.

    Download the iScrap App to find a scrap metal yard near you.

    Metal recycling process

    There are 8 steps to the metal recycling process according to Conserve Energy Future.

    1. Collection
    2. Sorting
    3. Processing
    4. Shredding
    5. Melting and Purification
    6. Purification
    7. Melting and Solidifying of the Metal
    8. Transportation of the Metal Bars

      To learn more about these 8 steps, visit the Conserve Energy Future website here.

      But maybe you want to repurpose your old metal bottle

      Instead of scrapping your old stainless steel bottle, maybe you want to give it a new life. Consider the following 8 alternatives uses for your old water bottle.

      1. Measure liquid

      Some bottles have printed measurements indicating ounces and millimeters. This is perfect for cooking and measuring liquids in general (especially at the campsite).

      2. Carry dry food mixes

      Old steel bottles are great for carrying dry goods when camping.

      3. Mix without a spoon

      If you need to quickly mix something up, like a sports drink or tea, an old water bottle if the perfect alternative to a spoon.

      4. Refill your pet’s water bowls

      Designate your old water bottle as your pet’s water dish refilling vessel.  

      5. Water plants

      You can also designate an old water bottle to be a watering can for your plants.

      6. Hold fresh-cut flowers

      Rather than sticking your flowers in a traditional vase, give your old water bottle a new life displaying your beautiful flowers. And since you won’t be drinking out of it anymore, you could even paint and decorate the bottle to give it some extra flair!

      7. Spare change holder

      Tired of finding loose change all over the house? Instead of digging through your pockets to find spare change, use an old bottle to hold it.

      8. Use your old bottle as a new cooking tool

      Don’t have a rolling pin? Now you do! Old water bottles are perfect for rolling out the dough. The mouth can also be used as a circular cookie cutter if needed.


      Whether you decide to recycle your old steel water bottle or repurpose it, the choice is up to you. But now you know what to do with your old stainless steel water bottles.


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