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Refilling a disposable pepper or salt mill

I'd like to try to get the top off of my empty Trader Joe's salt mill. My McCormick pepper mill is also nearly empty. I'd like to try to reuse them with whole spices such as cardamom, cumin, etc.
Is there a trick to getting the top off? Has anyone else tried this? Will it work?

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  1. Not sure about the McCormick's, but I refilled my TJ salt mill recently--I had to tap it on the counter a few times to dislodge the salt dust in the threads, but I was able to get the top off pretty easily. I didn't try other spices though, as I have some of that red salt from Hawaii I wanted to grind.

    1. Definetly not easy. The collar that twists to grind the pepper has lip inside that sits over the over the bottle locking it on. I used a small screwdriver to pry it up a little over the lip. Then wrapping the collar in tape I took some channel lock pliers and pulled off the collar, not easy but it can be done. Then I took a sharp utility knife and cut a thin sliver of plastic of the inside lip. NowI have an inexpensive, reuseable grinder.

      1 Reply
      1. re: goziner

        Thanks Goziner. Just used one small screwdriver to hold it apart and the second to go around the bottle. Viola! took a few seconds and after filling, snapped it right back on. I didn't cut anything off the inside since it was pretty easy and we probably won't need to refill for at least a year. Thanks for forging ahead and solving this question!

      2. -----

        My personal feelings are to use a $4 mortar and a pestle for all the odd spices and herbs. You will get more control of the crush consistency in that case. Better yet is creating yourself some blended crushes that really spices up a favorite dish.

        However one of my friends that insists on recycling those will drill a 7/16 inch hole in the bottom using a special glass bit. He can get small corks in the local craft stores or use adhesive circles (office stickers), for plugging up the hole. He has noted to me that after about 2 maybe 3 refills the unit is rather shot.


        1. Hmm....McCormick I never could figure out and didn't really think it was worth trying to figure out given the cost, but one thing I found with the TJ's mills we got more recently (both salt and pepper) is that they have easy to remove tops (they just unscrew) and thus can be easily refilled. Did I just hit a good batch? This is a matching pair of sea salt 3.3oz and black pepper 1.8oz, clear tops as well as clear bottle, if you're looking for them in the store. I dunno if the design changed either before or after I bought them, but these were bought sometime in the last couple months.

          I don't remember how much they cost. It seems possible you could probably find an equivalent cheap grinder for the same few bucks you would spend on these. Or maybe not. I gather each of these was about 3 bucks, maybe a little more. They are somewhat larger than the McCormick grinders.

          1. Why continue buying cheap mills that are meant to be disposable? The grinders wear out quickly. Decent mills can be purchased for as little at $7 - $10. Better quality peppercorns and salt will cost far less from Penzey's or even at the supermarket, packaged without the gimmick. You'll have the nice, good quality ones for a long time and enjoy using them on your table. http://www.surlatable.com/product/bod...
            I hate buying things that don't last.

            3 Replies
            1. re: MakingSense

              I bought a refillable clear vinyl pepper mill. I hate the way it grinds, too fine. I taped up the old disposable one and I'm using that. I feel like I wasted £4.

              1. re: MakingSense

                Usually true but.

                I have a grinder that is 100+ years old and still good.
                The only time anything was done to it was via dad in 1974.
                He actually replaced the inner part of the grinder.

                I did ask then why bother, per even then grinders for this were cheap.

                Its the coffee bean grinders that canbe expensive.
                Especially if getting combo units.

                But nowadays, more of us (even with $$) need to save.
                I would prefer to resuse a grinder nowadays even as cheap as they are,till they are not usuable... But since I have 4 of the very old ones, and using two soley for pepper related, I use up the re-usuables quickly and when possible empty them out.
                But my cheapie grinders are glass containers anyway..

                1. re: MakingSense

                  In fact for my very old grinder its inards are easy to replace. and those parts are as cheap as disposable grinders.

                  In the end, the cost savings in reusing versus fancy has proven to equal out and not really be advantagous either way in the end.

                  However, short of spending $$ on trying to reuse grinders, I say to those who say why be so cheap, you must be wealthy to complain about other peoples efforts to save a buck.

                  I know millionaires who are rich soley becuase they save money on resusing all sorts of stuff... and some of them dont even live rich except for the bank acct.
                  Btw, one of them is a next door neighbor and is only 45, and we live in a soso avg part of town.

                2. We don't keep anything on the table. The cat gets up there. ;-)

                  Hey, some people go for quality, some go for cheap and want to really keep it cheap. Whatever. I'm ambivalent on this particular issue, but I happened to read the thread and happened to have the TJ's bottles in the cabinet. Better quality peppercorns and salt would be lost on some people anyway.

                  For that matter, it looks like what the OP was after was a way to have a lot of cheap mills for different spices. At a few bucks, you can throw the salt out and still have a cheap grinder, and also one that's nice and compact. (Most pepper grinders you can buy are not that small and many are not see through.)

                  It's not a bad idea to me. I've never had much luck with mortar and pestle.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: CrazyOne

                    Thank you, CrazyOne. That was precisely my idea. I could fill one with allspice, another with nutmeg (I think), and other whole spices.

                    1. re: Lgalen

                      I'm not intricately familiar with the grinder design of the disposables, but would they really work with large spices like nutmeg? The grinders I have at home work because the salt rocks and peppercorns are small enough to get "caught" between the grinding teeth and then get crushed and ground. I don't see how nutmeg or other large spices would behave the same way... wouldn't they just scrape around and not get ground up? I use a microplane for cinnamon, nutmeg, and anise. I just buy small amounts of ground spices like coriander and allspice. If the occasion comes up that I want to use the whole spice, I'll just smash it with the pestle so the liquid gets infused with the spice.

                    2. re: CrazyOne

                      CrazyOne Wrote: ""I've never had much luck with mortar and pestle.""

                      If you are referring to items like whole pepper corns or hard seeds, yes it poses some problems, but they need to be cracked or scored first. Generally all they need is a love tap with the pestle. I also keep a kitchen set of pliers handy just in case. (Nothing special in the pliers other than they are stainless steel and used only for food)

                      I do see your point in having prefilled mills handy so I got some links together below.

                      http://www.fantes.com/peugeot_pepper_... (The $13.99 looks rather reasonable).


                      1. re: RShea78

                        Heh, Global Grinders just looking at the design and their apparent market would appear to be the supplier for TJ's. Their bottles look just like that. Doesn't look like they are set up for small sales, plus there would appear to be shipping from South Africa in that case, but on a large scale like supplying stores that wouldn't matter.

                        BTW, the sea salt grinder at my local TJ's was just $1.69 (happened to be there last night so yes, I of course had to look at the price). I gather they aren't using the special steel (described in the Peugeot link) in the disposables, though, so it would be best to throw out the salt or buy the pepper units (pepper is $1.99, but they seemed to be out, had only lemon pepper at I think $2.49) In the spirit of avoiding too much wastage the disposables lose out, yes, but in terms of personal cash outlay it would take 5 of the disposables to equal even a $10 mill. I really like the Kuhn Rikon design in the last link, tho. Very pricey, but cool.

                        1. re: CrazyOne

                          BTW, I just had the TJ's grinders out and should note: the grinding mechanism is *plastic* on both the salt and the pepper bottles. Who knows how long this will last. Certainly not as long as a good mill. Also it may not mill certain spices too well, not really sure, although if it does okay on the pepper and salt, I guess it should be fine for most. Just another piece of data to throw into the equation.

                    3. I have some I got at carrabbas. No, I didn't steal them - I asked and they gave them to me. I use them for camping trips, picnis and at work. I use a set of pliers to grab the top and just tilt it off. I've been refilling them for at least 4 years.

                      1. Goziner's info below is correct. You can easily pop the top off a McCormick disposable spice mill grinder in less than 60 seconds and refill it. I just did it using Goziner's instructions and the exact same advice which I found on another cooking website. What you do is gently slide the tip of a knife (an old butter knife is fine; the less sharp, the better) under the edge of the black plastic. The entire black plastic part is simply held on by a raised ridge in the glass that runs completely around the top of the grinder mill about 3/4 of an inch from the top. I held both the knife and the glass part of the mill in my left hand so that neither the knife nor the glass container could move, turn or rotate. Then I very slowly rotated the black plastic part over the knife, pulling the black plastic AWAY from the tip of the knife and the glass container as I turned it. You will find that after about a full turn or two, part of the black plastic is up and away from the ridge. From that point on, you just gently wiggle the rest of it off the top. I just re-filled my McCormick black pepper grinder mill with whole Mexican oregano. In any case, it turns out to be so easy-to-do that I am going to buy more McCormick disposable spice mills and slowly create a complete matching set. It is much cheaper. more intelligent and environmentally conscious to buy and re-use these disposable grinding mills. This is especially the case because we will find them on sale, and spend much less than many others seem to be doing for what can only be called "status" grinding mills. The Celtic Sea Salt company at www.celticseasalt.com also has some nice grinding mills that come with their salts. Their mills have plastic tops that unscrew, are designed to be refillable and they look to use the same plastic grinding parts and fittings as do the McCormick "disposables". Therefore, IMHO, refilling McCormick mills is an extremely intelligent thing to do because they will last much longer than anyone who is trying to convince you to buy "status" mills appears to believe. Those people are just not very canny consumers. You've heard the phrase: too much money, too few brains? People who nay-say your and my wish to economize, be thrifty, and ecologically conscious have opinions and perspectives which can easily be dispensed with. Best Regards, Lee Johnson

                        1. I have a few that I got at Barraba's and I use a channel lock pliers to remove the lids to refill them. I grab the lid with the pliers and pull it off at an angle. The lids are snap off and on - no threads. I use them for camping and picnics.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: kayakado

                            I tried using a flathead screwdriver, and while trying to hold the lip open to unscrew the lid on a trader joe pepper mill, I cracked a small piece of plastic loose (~1/4"). The lid opened easily after that with just hand loosening. I've used the plastic grinder through four fillings of peppercorns and it is still grinding well. Hope this helps, though not quite elegant.

                            1. re: radar101

                              That's weird. The plastic mills I have from Trader Joe's are still ones that can be unscrewed easily. There is nothing that prevents refilling the ones I have. Maybe they used to have different ones, or some locations have had different ones?

                          2. Easy way --- soften and expand the plastic by using water heated to 190 degrees F., poured to a level that submerses only the grinding mechanism to no higher than its' collars edge, while the emptied bottle rests inverted in a Pyrex measuring cup. The plastic collar will pop off when pulled gently, wash and dry all parts with hairdryer. Salt and pepper grinding mechanisms appear to be common.

                            To reattach after filling...simply put collar and wheel back together securing one within the other, place back atop the bottle---then cover with a soft dish towel, and exert a direct downward force against the top of the bottle and its' collar, while they are on a counter top.

                            I have refilled in this manner tens of times with no issues noteworthy. The serrated edge grinder wheel internals are of a harder composition base than the securing collar, so many refills are possible.

                            1. I got the lid off my McCormick grinder by *pulling* off the lid with pliers, rather than trying to pry it off. The refill works great, better than any peppermill I've ever had.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: mateopucu

                                I'm glad to hear that. Did the grinder have a tall collar like these?


                                I bought one, hoping to fill it with a black peppercorn + cumin seed mix. So it was an unhappy surprise when I couldn't remove the top.

                                1. re: Channa

                                  I have two like that. The tops do come off. It takes a fair amount of force.


                                  1. re: Jim Washburn

                                    Success! And the roast peppercorn + cumin mix is very tasty indeed.

                              2. I use a pair of pliers to get the tops off the grinders from Carrabba's. I just grip it and pull at a slight angle and they come right off, push to put them back on. We use these to go camping, so we don't need to take expensive grinders.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: kayakado

                                  ok,I left my coffee grinder at my brother's house (I watch it in winter) was goin nuts.....
                                  I have both a McCormick & a large see through PM.
                                  Tried to open both 3 wks ago...gave up.....this mornin could not take it any longer.....brothers house is to far.......faught with the plastic one -never opened - go back to McCormick ...search net ........thank god !!!
                                  OK, ITS NOT CIVET COFFEE ( Kopi Luwak ) BUT LIFE IS GOOD TODAY.
                                  TY ALL, Steve Nostradome

                                2. Just refilled my McCormick grinder even tho they say do not re-use....very easy just slipped a butter knife under the black rim and pried off the top without any difficulty by see-sawing the top upwards.....re-filled with black peppercorns and put the top back on.....also with a see-saw movement downwards this time.

                                  1. Not worth the effort. You can purchase an excellent ceramic spice mill at Ikea for $6.99 which attaches to extra spice jars also available from Ikea at 4 for $4.99. This is a top notch product which will last a lifetime. See 365+ spice grinder and jars at: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/search/?que...

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: josephnl

                                      I have several of the IKEA grinders and love them, but they are considerably heavier and bulkier than the McCormicks, which are so small and light one can carry them almost everywhere, and I do.


                                      1. re: josephnl

                                        If you're even too cheap to buy the Ikea spice mill (like me), go to Aldis or Big Lots and buy a cheap spice in a grinder (I usually buy Sea Salt or Dried Onion). The grinder tops on those bottles are threaded. Screw the grinder top off, discard or save the spice in a separate jar, then fill the grinder with whatever you want. It is reusable until the grinder wears down too much. This hasn't happened to me yet. I usually buy six or seven jars, keep the original spice in one, dump the rest into another container and use it for refills, then fill the others with whatever.
                                        I do not understand why McCormick does not want to use threaded grinder caps... no wait... I do... If you have to throw the bottle away or slice yourself with a butter knife to re-use it you're more likely to buy another grinder than refill. That's better for stockholders.

                                      2. well i just grabbed the side with a pair of pliers and my wife held the glass end and i pulled!!
                                        it came right off!! no prob!!

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: ldhjr1

                                          Followed your advice except I used a pair of channel-lock pliers… Cap popped right off like you said it would. You have made my wife very happy!

                                          1. re: KingBeetle

                                            I truly can't understand why you would bother. Quality ceramic mills are so cheap, they are adjustable and grind perfectly, and will last forever. I've been using inexpensive Kuhn-Rikon mills for many years, and also have a six buck Ikea mill which isn't as pretty, but works perfectly. Why bother to reuse a cheap plastic grinder?

                                            1. re: josephnl

                                              I agree. Why bother with attempting to re-use the disposable peppermills when you can also go to Goodwill and buy one for $2 or $3. I have bought quality pepper grinders made by Wm Bounds, Peugeot, Vic Firth, Kuhn-Rikon, Oxo, Bodum...there are also the cheap Mr. Dudley, Olde Thompson and others that work adequately as well.

                                            2. re: KingBeetle

                                              Ditto mine came off with a pull too. but I find they tip over too easily - their shape has a flaw. too narrow at one end.

                                          2. It appears that McCormick has redesigned the grinder for different coarse settings now. I tried to remove the top of the newer one and the glass broke off inside the grinder top It's almost as though they have glued them to keep people from refilling them. Has anyone tried to refill the newer one?

                                            1. On the McCormick's Pepper Grinder, I worked at it for about 5 minutes with a screwdriver to no avail, so out of frustration, I grasped the top edge of the plastic on one side with a pair of regular pliers and yanked... top off in 1 second! Filled it and popped the top back on.

                                              1. I just grabbed the top with one hand, the glass container with the other and pulled apart strongly. It came out. What does not work with force usually works with more force!
                                                For me it was not the money savings to buy a new one, but I could not find them in Brazil and they grind really nice, much better than the average non-disposable ones.

                                                1. I realize this post is old but from my experience, refilling the disposable peppermills isn't worth it in the long run. I don't remember the brand, but I bought several of these peppermills on clearance. After they were empty of peppercorns we refilled them. After using them for a while, they stopped grinding the peppercorn efficiently. I think the manufacturers deliberately make them so that they wear out and will stop working after so many grinds.

                                                  I agree that you can get cheap peppermills that work well without have to spend $40+. I actually prefer the $7 model from Ikea.


                                                  1. Before you go refilling those disposible spice bottles, think of this: Most of those are manufactured in China. A few in Taiwan and South Africa. Given their "high standards" of manufacturing in those areas, and the fact that that caps are made of plastic which breaks apart little by little as it grinds your spices, are you sure you want to continue using it? Think of what you're eatting. Instead of eatting plastic, buy a good grinder made of ceramic that will last for years. Should microscopic pieces break off - and they will, they do in ALL grinders - at least you're eatting a fairly organic substance, not an oil-based plastic with who knows what added into it. Sometimes being frugal isn't being smart. I won't buy those grinders at all.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: MNHAWKEYE

                                                      Couldn't agree with you more. Ceramic mills are the only way to go, and they can be very inexpensive. Ikea sells one for about six bucks. My personal favorites are the Kuhn Rikons which are about thirty bucks, but will likely outlive me several times over. I don't throw money away, but really can't imagine why anyone would want to reuse the cheap disposable plastic mills that are sold containing pepper and other spices!

                                                      1. re: josephnl

                                                        I use a lot of Black Pepper, as well as other seasonings; if you can find an old crank coffee grinder, the one with the pull out drawer, they are made of wood with steel grinders, they work great., adjustable grind, makes a good quantity in just a turn or two of the handle, and it looks good on the counter. Have had mine for years.

                                                    2. I was looking for a way to refill my McCormick Black Pepper Grinder, too. While reading all of the replies, I tried to imagine how you guys did it. I suddenly had a mental picture of several people with tools and boiling waters, pulling and pushing with all their might--I could even see the black clouds of frustration and the hands in the air for the successful attempts--all for a small bottle that was meant by its manufacturer to be disposed of. Which I, too, have no intention of doing.

                                                      I'll try everything and see what works =) Thanks for the tips and the entertainment people! Hahaha

                                                      1. After reading most of the posts, I tried to refill my McCormick peppercorn grinder. It was easier than I thought. I took a small flat screwdriver from my computer toolkit and prised all around the base of the cap. Try pushing the screwdriver all the way in and lifting up each time and rotate. Bingo the cap gradually came off in 30 seconds. I refilled it with Badia peppercorns and it snapped right back on. This is the newest grinder as the expiry date is 04/2014. I didnt notice any glue sticking the cap to the glass to prevent refilling.

                                                        I must say the cap is attached really tightly to the bottle. I almost busted my finger before using the screwdriver. Concerning comments about the plastic leeching over time into the pepper or salt grinder - the plastic grinder will probably get dull before this happens. Also the McCormick grinder is made with high quality plastics and glass. I guess some people are still afraid of using a microwave or cellphone. We actually inhale more toxic fumes from cars and trucks on a daily basis without realizing it.

                                                        Grinder works great again - Hooray!

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: Richie_Chef

                                                          Since the Ikea spice grinder is now a dollar cheaper than it used to be (now $6) and one twist of it is equal to about three twists of the McCormick disposable peppermill and the Ikea holds about three times as many peppercorns as the disposable one, I would use the Ikea and not buy the McCormick since it is also an expensive way to buy peppercorns.

                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                            well i didnt buy buy the mccormick bottle to get the grinder. I already had it in the cupboard. i am just offering a solution to the question asked. This can come in handy in case of an emergency and you need a grinder quickly as you dont have time to purchase one while you are in the middle of a dish.

                                                        2. I just used a small flat blade screwdriver like the hint said and pryed the top off of my McCormick grinder and VOILA, I'm in. I feel like a McCormick hacker. No more expensive NEW grinders. Huggs all around.

                                                          10 Replies
                                                          1. re: ElaineV

                                                            Hope you enjoy eating plastic chips mixed in with your pepper.
                                                            Why not splurge and spend six bucks at IKEA and buy a ceramic mill that will outlast you?

                                                            1. re: josephnl

                                                              Sounds like someone who works for McCormick or Ikea

                                                              1. re: Richie_Chef

                                                                That's what i was thinking. More like Ikea since It's been mentioned quite a bit

                                                                1. re: ironuser

                                                                  Elaine's McCormick hack has likely run its course by now anyway. Those disposable grinders have plastic grinding mechanisms that will fail fairly quickly. I know from experience.

                                                                    1. re: Richie_Chef

                                                                      That's my point. I stopped buying the McCormick peppermills because regular peppermills are available for less than the cost of the McCormicks. I bought the Kuhn Rikon for $2 at Goodwill. I have several Peugeot peppermills for the same price.

                                                              2. re: josephnl

                                                                Okay I checked Amazon and even Ikea's website and the Ikea 365 grinder is not available for purchase online.
                                                                For those of us who live outside of the US there are no Ikea Stores.

                                                                1. re: Richie_Chef

                                                                  You're right. I just checked the IKEA site in the US and the 365 pepper mill seems to have dropped off the site. Nevertheless, I do think there are other very inexpensive ceramic pepper mill options that to me at least make more sense than trying to reuse a cheap plastic grinder such as those on McCormick jars.

                                                                  1. re: Richie_Chef

                                                                    I didn't notice this post of yours until today. Ikea has over 250 stores in 25 different countries. I'm not sure if they all sell the spice grinder.

                                                                2. re: ElaineV

                                                                  Way to go, Elaine! Now your next project is to take a large economy-size toothpaste tube and hold it tight up against the top of an empty travel toothpaste tube (less or equal to 3 oz). Remove the tops and hold them together. then squeeze the big tube. VIOLA, a travel refill for a fraction of the cost. You have the flexibility of using your favorite toothpaste just the same as you have the flexibility of filling your McCormick grinder with whichever pepper or other spice you choose!

                                                                3. I dropped mine in a pot of water waiting for pasta!
                                                                  SIMPLE ONE..DONT TRY TO REMOVE THE ENTIRE TOP!! use a screw driver to remove the red part then the white part underneath, refill and snap the parts back in place..EASY AS 1-2-3

                                                                  1. I got a few more empty McCormick pepper mills and now am using them for Sea Salt. You can get some great sea salt and kosher salt that is a little too big for a normal salt shaker but put the otherwise large-sized salt in an empty McCormick mill and it works great!

                                                                    And another note is that the plastic parts don't corrode from the salt like the metal parts on the more expensive grinders.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: nhirsch

                                                                      Neither do the ceramic mills corrode from salt, and they are by far my favorite choice.

                                                                      1. re: josephnl

                                                                        Yes of course I would prefer ceramic over metal in grinders and brake pads and many other applications.

                                                                    2. I was able to get the top off of the TJs mill by simply unscrewing it with a tremendous amount of force, enough that I thought for sure I was going to break the plastic housing before getting the top off. It was surprisingly sturdy, however.

                                                                      To be clear, by "top" I mean the end pepper comes out of. You can see the threads inside it, and as mentioned here pepper grinds get stuck in it making it difficult to remove. Just twist hard counter-clockwise. Off it goes. No tools or crazy drills etc required.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: ChrisMoschini

                                                                        Practically no force is needed bro. Just read my post:

                                                                        After reading most of the posts, I tried to refill my McCormick peppercorn grinder. It was easier than I thought. I took a small flat screwdriver from my computer toolkit and prised all around the base of the cap. Try pushing the screwdriver all the way in and lifting up each time and rotate. Bingo the cap gradually came off in 30 seconds. I refilled it with Badia peppercorns and it snapped right back on. This is the newest grinder as the expiry date is 04/2014. I didnt notice any glue sticking the cap to the glass to prevent refilling.

                                                                        I must say the cap is attached really tightly to the bottle. I almost busted my finger before using the screwdriver. Concerning comments about the plastic leeching over time into the pepper or salt grinder - the plastic grinder will probably get dull before this happens. Also the McCormick grinder is made with high quality plastics and glass. I guess some people are still afraid of using a microwave or cellphone. We actually inhale more toxic fumes from cars and trucks on a daily basis without realizing it.

                                                                        Grinder works great again - Hooray!

                                                                        Permalink | Reply
                                                                        By Richie_Chef on Jul 2, 2011 06:21 PM

                                                                        1. re: Richie_Chef

                                                                          This was the Trader Joes one, not McCormick. I'm sure force varies. No tools needed.

                                                                      2. EASY WAY TO REFILL McCormick pepper grinder.
                                                                        Warm the black plastic grinder top a little with a hair dryer.
                                                                        This makes the plastic pliable enough that you can pull
                                                                        the black plastic grinder top off the glass bottle with your
                                                                        hands. To reattach push back on until it snaps over the
                                                                        glass bottle lip.

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Dealhunter

                                                                          thank you so much, i warmed it up just a bit with the hot setting of my hair dryer and it came off like butter!!!!!!! yeeee!!!!!!

                                                                          1. re: danitza

                                                                            THANK GOD. I bought Szechuan peppercorns at Whole Foods and they only had it in those disposable pepper mills. Wasn't sure how to get the peppercorns out.

                                                                        2. I remember having trouble maybe five years ago trying to open a Trader Joe's mill to refill & gave up. We bought a bottle of pink himalayan salt from there about a year ago. When it ran out I didn't have any trouble unscrewing it. I refilled it with some sea salt we had from World Market. I didn't think about the grinding mechanism being made of plastic & possibly getting in the food! I will have to watch that. I'm sure it's fine for now, but I eventually want to buy a nice salt grinder to match whatever new pepper mill I buy. Still in the decision making process. And just my two cents about McCormick-I don't buy anything of theirs any more.

                                                                          1. Hair dryer rotate bottle close to it for about 1 minute. Wear gloves, it comes right off! I actually thought I was the only crazy cheap person!

                                                                            1. Why do people with no answer to this specific question reply? Is it fun to waste the time of strangers while insulting them at the same time? If that's the goal, good job. Very efficient.

                                                                              Some people have these McCormick grinders for any variety of reasons and feel that it's a waste to throw them in the landfill before their time.

                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                              1. re: HedonistReview

                                                                                *ahem* Your reply applies:

                                                                                "...with no answer to this specific question...". ; )

                                                                                Welcome to Chowhound, where there is no shortage of opinions of all kinds. If you have not done so already, I hope you explore the Chowhound threads and offer your opinions on food, restaurants, cooking, and many other topics.


                                                                                1. re: HedonistReview

                                                                                  Because some of us think it's truly silly to refill cheap plastic grinders where inevitably some plastic will be ground into food, when for less than $10-15 one can buy a good ceramic mill which will last a lifetime, and will not disintegrate. To those of us who do not want to refill cheap plastic McCormick mills, doing so seems not only ridiculous but silly, cheap, dumb and risky.

                                                                                  1. re: josephnl

                                                                                    You want to give me the $10-$15 for each mill I'll want for each of my 3 different herb & spice grinding projects, and I'll gladly not bother with reusing a McCormick pepper mill.

                                                                                    Until then? I'll spend the 45 seconds it took me to run the end under hot water, then pop it off.

                                                                                    1. re: Overand

                                                                                      If you ever get to Ikea, they have an exvellent $6 spice mill with extra jars available, four for $4.

                                                                                      1. re: John E.

                                                                                        Yes...I saw these last week in my local IKEA. For 10 bucks you can get a ceramic mill that will last forever with 4 extra spice jars. Does it make sense to refill plastic grinders when inevitably the plastic will in time disintegrate and chip and get into your food? I think not, but if others disagree, keep refilling your disposable grinders. See:

                                                                                2. My 2 cents: I too was looking to refill my McCormick's pepper grinder which I had bought on sale for $0.99 some time ago (it's almost empty now, so it was quite awhile ago). Was at Shop Rite today and they had the McC peppercorns for $22.56 / lb in a container that had maybe 2-3 times what's in the grinder. The grinder was $1.59, which is $20.52 / lb net wt. So it's even cheaper than the peppercorns to fill it. That price may have been a sale price, BUT even if so, it was further reduced to $0.99 for each grinder (limit 4). That computes to $12.77 / lb for the peppercorns in it. So it's a heck of a lot cheaper to just buy a new grinder on sale than it is to get McC's pepercorns to fill it with. Maybe peppercorns are cheaper elsewhere; that I couldn't say. But I doubt you can get 'em for less than $12.77 / lb.

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                                                                                  1. re: TheDude6077

                                                                                    COSTCO has had for a few years Tellecherry black peppercorns in a one lb container, about $5.50/lb. The quality is very good.

                                                                                  2. It is very easy. You'll need a heat gun (a hair dryer may work, but I haven't tried one), some patience, and some common sense. Slowly and evenly heat the outer ring of the lid (the part that is pressed onto the bottle) while turning it in the hot air stream. Don't melt the plastic, don't burn yourself. Try pushing it off of the bottle periodically as it warms. Eventually it will be warm and flexible enough that it will just pop off.

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                                                                                    1. re: GlassTransition

                                                                                      I found no need for heat gun. I use flat screwdriver to push up under cap and pry off. Be careful not to chip off glass. May need to loosen up and shake off salt or pepper that may have encrusted itself under cap which would prevent the cap from slipping off. Then just push back on when full.