You Shouldn't Throw Out Coconut Shells. Here's Why

Once you've cracked open a coconut and scooped out the delicious insides, you may be wondering what to do with the shell. If you've managed to successfully split the fruit's hard exterior into two halves, upcycling options abound. The Polynesian Cultural Center, which is "nuts over coconuts," recommends repurposing the shells into jewelry or other crafts.

Just what kind of crafts? A search for DIY coconut shell projects on Pinterest yields an exciting, almost exhausting array of possibilities for transforming would-be trash into treasure. Think bowls, candle holders, plant holders, bird feeders, and wind chimes. Coconut shells lend well to crafts because they are hard and durable (via Shiprocket Social). They're also naturally beautiful and create a rustic vibe when used as decor.

Once you've removed the coconut meat from the shell, Shiprocket Social recommends cleaning it. Afterward, you can easily remove the coconut fibers from the outside of the shell using sandpaper. Simply rub the shell's exterior until the hairs have been removed. The inside of the shell is already smooth. Your clean coconut shell can easily be used as a catch-all dish for trinkets and small treasures (via Appropedia).

Crafts to make with coconut shells

Bowls are another straightforward transformation. Instructables suggests lacquering your coconut shell bowl, after cleaning and sanding, with a combination of linseed oil and mineral spirits. This adds a dark varnish. Multiple coats – six may be the magic number – will provide waterproofing. You can also soak your shell in coconut oil to create a shinier, darker tinge. Heat the oil in a large pot, place the shell inside, and allow the shell to absorb the oil (via Shiprocket Social).

To make a candle holder from your coconut shell, attach a wick to the base with hot glue and then pour heated votive wax to within a ¼ inch of the top of the shell (via Candles & Supplies). Colors and scents can be added according to your preference. For a bird feeder, drill holes in the shell to hang it. Then thread with twine and fill with birdseed. A drilled shell can also be used for plants as the holes allow for drainage. Line with sphagnum moss before filling with soil. Appropedia notes for planters that cutting the shell at 3/4 of its height rather than half is ideal.

Eat lots of coconuts? After mastering these simple crafts, you can explore advanced options. Coconut shells can be made into lamps, earrings, buttons, and more. Since it was trash, to begin with, don't be afraid to experiment. If all else fails, the Polynesian Cultural Center notes that coconut shells make great firewood.