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Wine corks

Out of curiosity, what do you all do with your corks after your bottles are done? I save all my corks and I've got quite a collection at this point. All my corks are dated and have initials on them to reference with whom I shared the bottle. I'm curious what you all do with your corks.

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  1. The first year of owning our wine shop has produced a collection of around 700. This almost fills a tall glass cylindrical vase that is almost 4' in height. As it has grown, we have had contests where people can win a gift card for being the closest to guessing how many there are.

    1. Put a couple corks in the frying pan, it prevents the oil from burning.

      2 Replies
      1. re: RicRios

        Hi RicRios, I'm intrigued by your cork use- can you elaborate on this cork and burning oil business?

        - Lea

        1. re: Canada Eats

          Well, I learned it from my inlaws, not from books. Whenever you're frying in a pan, the oil has a certain limited life before it burns. If you put a couple corks in the oil, oil lasts a lot longer without burning. I must say I thought it silly at first, but it worked!

      2. Drinking a bottle of wine almost every night results in lots of corks. We used to save them but it just got to be too much. So, along with the capsule they co right into the trash. Plus, these days a number of bottles have the synthetic corks which certainly aren't worth saving and then there's the screw top bottles which seem to be appearing more and more these days.

        1. I used to save them, but eventually they became Weber fuel.

          When I buy everyday wine (for me, $16-$25) I consider screw caps a plus, and synthetics a minus. A screw cap on Oz white really simplifies a quick seafood dinner, and I've rarely had a poor bottle.

          1. Trivets! Those corks made terrific holding plates, under a candle, wine coasters.

            We slice a cork in half and hot glue them together. Our small (but growing) wine cellar has cork shelving btwn the bottles; nesting very nicely.

            7 Replies
            1. re: HillJ

              Adorable idea to make trivets! What is a good tool to use to cut the cork with? Exacto knife maybe?

              1. re: Val

                Val, yes Exacto knife is ideal for splitting lengthwise. Then we use a plastic ruler (similar to a drafting tool) for a straight edge to line up corks. If you extra sturdy trivets a piece of pine/wall board as your base also work well. Good luck!

                1. re: Val

                  There are kits that provide the frame and structure to minimize cutting. Take a look in any of the consumer wine periodicals for sources, or on the web.

                  1. re: Val

                    I made a jig by using three or four boards that I nailed together then drilled a long hole with a long7/8 spade drill bit. Then you put two boards together so the seamsplits the hole perfectly and wedge a razor blade between that board. The corks can then be forced through the hole, splitting themes they go. I push them through with a dowel. I did about a 5 gallon bucket today while watching tv in about 90 minutes. Ill post a better description with pictures tomorrow if someone wants.to see it

                    1. re: fdensmore

                      Yes, please post some pictures. This sounds quite interesting, but I'm no good at figuring things out from words alone. Thanks!

                      1. re: fdensmore

                        me too...and a 5 gal bucket, wtf?!!

                  2. I spent last Thanksgiving making a big bulletin board for the kitchen, trivets and dinner place holders out of the corks I was amassing for 8 years. It was a very productive weekend! If you glue 2 corks lengthwise, they are good to slide under hot metal Calphalon pot lids as opposed to using a dishrag.

                    For the bulletin board, I just glued the whole cork to pegboard that fit inside a nice frame. http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v73...

                    same for trivets, minus frame (if you look around, there are many trivet kits that cost $25 or more. You're better off not buying the kits because of cost and it's a pain getting corks to fit in the prescribed area):

                    for dinner place holder/pic holder, just glued 6 together and tied some raffia for decoration:

                    I've seen some pics of people's homes where they used the corks for baseboards/molding. I've also seen people attach corks to wreath forms and they make rather interesting 3D wreaths. Finally, some use it for mulch in the garden which could look pretty cool. The possibilities are endless until you run out of corks.

                    1. You could glue your corks onto a car, like this creative woman:


                      I love seeing her cork truck around town! (But don't send her your corks - she has plenty of extras.


                      Me, I'm planning to make a few cork boards and trivets with some of my corks. Love the idea of mulch, too - except what will the neighbors think?


                      1 Reply
                      1. re: AnneInMpls

                        Sorry, didn't see your post - AND with pictures. All I had was my memories of the Champagne cork mini-van in SC. You beat me to the punch and with a link, no less.


                      2. throw one in the pot while cooking squid and octopus, and it will stop them from becoming rubbery. nto sure why, but it works every time!

                        1. Real Simple Magazine just had a blurb on using wine corks for fire starter. Add corks to a jar of rubbing alcohol and then stick a cork under some newspaper and light it to start the fire.

                          I used to save them, with the date and initials or who was there, but they started just piling up and now we just toss them. The cat likes to bat around the synthetic ones, though!

                          1. Trivits - also use them to put in (under) metal pot lid handles so when I lift the hot lid I'm grabbing on to the cork and don't need a potholder

                            1. Some years ago, on Hilton Head Island, IIRC, the sommelier at a French restaurant had saved most of the Champagne corks from the restaurant and hot-glued them to his mini-van. It was quite a sight!

                              I also save my corks and often use them in trivets, corkboards, etc. I also provide them to my party decorator to fill vases, etc. for wine-themed parties - or for you by him for other clients. I did have a large wreath done a few years back, but it was outside on the pool level, near the wine cellar, and the AZ heat melted the glue over time.


                              1. I am a big wino but didn't start saving corks until a few months ago. I have a wine glass the size of my head that sits on top of my 182 bottle cellar that I toss corks in. I like to sit down and look at the different wines I've had in the past and have a run down memory lane.

                                1. A wine enthusiast friend used them (over years) to make...a shower curtain (strung together, attached to vinyl liner), with the labels steamed off and reapplied to paper the same bathroom!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. I used to save them all, now I just save the ones from special bottles. The rest I gave to a friend who makes fishing bobbers out of them.

                                    1. I heard about a local artist that uses the purple part of the cork to depict grapes in artwork. I haven't seen them yet.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. If you have extra corks you want to get rid of, and have any friends with pet parrots, they'll be happy to take them off your hands. Parrots just love to tear up corks with their beaks.

                                        1. Several years ago the Martha Stewart bug hit me and I made Christmas wreaths from the hundreds of corks I had. Michaels sells grape-vine wreaths on which I hot-glued the corks and then loosely wrapped them with dark green and purple velvet ribbon. A few dangling plastic grape clusters down the center made for some great gifts for wine-lovers!

                                          1. Used wine corks can be used when potting plants. They serve to aerate the soil as well as retain moisture.

                                            1. heres the jig i described earlier

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: fdensmore

                                                Ah, now I see how it works. Thanks!

                                              2. There are a number of good ideas in this thread!

                                                I have used corks to cover/decorate the door to my wine cellar. I simply glued them on their side to the entire outside half of the door to the wine cellar. Guests love to look at all of the different corks and they also act as additional insulation. Not a very high R-value though. ;-)

                                                1. Ha! A friend just showed me these adorable wine cork COASTERS...these look so simple to do...no cutting or extra materials are needed...just hot glue...she did mention that the corks are really not very absorbent for a cold glass with condensation, in case this is important...I suppose a piece of felt or fabric could be glued to the underside...but how cute for holiday or hostess gift and would be snap to put together:


                                                  1. A electric hot knife cuts thru corks like butter.

                                                    5 Replies
                                                    1. re: HillJ


                                                      Is an electric hot knife one of those knives one uses to carve a turkey, for example? I am not familiar with the term you use but I am thinking maybe it is one of those knives that has a bread knife type blade(s) and has an electric motor that drives the knife blade(s) in a sawing motion?

                                                      If we are thinking of the same device, that is a great idea for cutting corks.

                                                      1. re: Fowler

                                                        No this is a electric knife that I use when tooling leather. But I'd be curious to know if the blade you're describing would work...I'm thinking it would shred the cork too much with the back & forth motion of the blade.

                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                          In that case, I am definitely thinking of the wrong device. If you have time, would you please post a link to a photo of the kind of electric knife you use? When I did the work on my cellar door (see note up thread) I cut countless corks down to size with a long razor blade but what you use may make the task less cumbersome.

                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                              Thanks, HillJ! You are always very helpful.

                                                    2. I bought a giant paper mache letter of our last name initial and hotglued corks to it. Makes a lovely piece of "art" for the kitchen.

                                                      1. Wine corks can be recycled! There are collection boxes at Whole Foods, for example. If you don't feel very arts-and-craftsy, this is a good alternative to just tossing them.

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                          particularly since cork is a substance which is not readily renewable... resource from trees which are fairly rare; i can't think of terminology here but maybe someone can understand my meaning here?

                                                          1. re: betsydiver

                                                            It's renewable (slowly), and the cork harvest seems to be managed in a responsible way, so there should be no shortages in the foreseeable future. But that's no reason to just throw old corks away if they can still be useful for something or transformed into something useful without unreasonable cost/effort.

                                                            1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                              Isn't cork beautiful! I love the shades, the feel of cork. It has so many uses.

                                                        2. I want to make a bath mat with mine. Kind of like this http://www.craftynest.com/2010/03/win... but not glued. I want to run a string through the corks and weave them. Still trying to figure out how to do that.

                                                          6 Replies
                                                          1. re: pdxgastro

                                                            pdx, a few thoughts...you should dip the corks first in a sealer so they hold up to moisture. then side drill straight through to pass the linking material. I would use a very light gauge wired, not string to hold the corks together and I would use a rug material to back it.

                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                              HillJ, what do you recommend for using as a sealer? A friend of ours had mentioned making a cork back splash and I would think that is something that should definitely be sealed.

                                                              1. re: Fowler

                                                                Water proof silicone in clear. Comes in a tub jar or tube you can brush on each individual cork to prep and seal it perfectly. Even two coats would be ideal.

                                                                Like this. Dump in a bowl and brush on.


                                                              2. re: HillJ

                                                                Thanks for the sealing, drilling and wire suggestion. But why the rug backing? I kind of like the "floating" idea. You know, with no backing, you can flip it to either side.

                                                                1. re: pdxgastro

                                                                  If the cork rug is going in a damp area against a slippery floor, a backing would be safe and protect the cork. But YMMV.

                                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                                    The box stores sell rug squares that have a tacky back. Once you seal the individual corks, you could embed the corks right into the sticky side of the carpet and just secure with adhesive between the rows for strength. Save you a ton of time and you'd have a rug cork in 30 mins.

                                                            2. You can recycle them by dropping them off at your local Whole Foods in their Cork ReHarvest box. Here are the details: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/2010/...

                                                              Of course this is only for real corks and not synthetic corks or the Stelvin screw caps.