How can I reuse or recycle pistachio shells?

Pistachio nuts in a bowlOh lovely pistachio nuts. How sweet and salty your squishy insides are. How tough and protective your hard outsides are.

We’ve got a whole bowlful of the pistachio nut shells with no idea what to do with them.

We’re reluctant to just throw them on the compost heap because it seems such a waste to just ask them to rot down again (and they’ll probably take ages anyway) but that’s a last resort I guess.

Any ideas?

Best Suggestions

  • Reuse – Practical: Use them at the bottom of plant pots to help drainage.
  • Reuse – Creative: They can be made into rattles (in an old tin can or cardboard tube depending on how loud you want it) or instead of seashells wind chimes.
  • Recycle: Smash them up a bit and spread them around the garden – to start with, the sharp edges will deter slugs and snails and eventually the shells will break down into compost and feed your soil.
  • See the comments below for more suggestions and ideas

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119 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle pistachio shells?”

  1. Olia says:

    decorate with them instead of sea shells.

  2. devin says:

    yeah, throw them in a wood burning stove or fireplace. they are high in oils that actually react with the creosote in the chimney and will cause it to flake off thus preventing chimney fires while heating your house. due to the oil, they give off a lot more than their weight in wood (celulose). If you put one in a paper clip and light it you will see ‘jets of fire’ branching out of where it is burning; this is the oil vaporizing and igniting when it comes in contact with oxygen.

  3. Ryudo says:

    Pistachio shells are hard! Has anyone ever thought of grinding them down into a powder then reforming them with an adhesive to make an MDF type material?

  4. Pistachio shells prior to the preparation, namely a good rinse and dry. After you sort by size: large to large, small to small, medium to medium. With the help of a coffee saucer using its diameter, cut out a circle of very thick cardboard (in our case, we used the cardboard from a box).
    Outline the center circle and begin with an adhesive to form a flower from the small size of pistachios. Getting glue with four shells in the center, then depending on the size of the shell. And as you can spread mosaic!

  5. Debbi says:

    Great ideas!!
    My daughter uses crushed walnut shell substrate in her hermit crab’s tank. I wonder if crushed pistachio shells would work too??

  6. John says:

    Anyone ever use the shells as a potting medium for growing orchids instaead of fir bark. I would assume they have to be thoughly rinsed to remove and salt.

    Thanks in Advance,


  7. Rayford says:

    Can’t you crush them down and make a poutice, for skin exfoliation?

  8. Brock says:

    If you like to cook out, use them on your grill or smoker instead of wood chips. It’s very good for smoking meat, better than hickory or mesquite!

  9. Danielle says:

    Make a wind chime out of them they sound pretty when they move around in your hand so why not out in the wind!!!

  10. Anon says:

    I put them in a pot and boil them fora few hours and you get a paste that I mix in with my mashed potatoes it is rather tasty.

    • Victoria says:


    • Jimmy says:

      Okay so you boil the shells for a few hours. Do the shells cook down and become soft? Soft enough to mash into the mashed potatoes? I am confused. Would you please tell me exactly how you do it? I buy and eat A LOT of pistachio nuts and I always have A LOT of left over shells. It would be so awesome to find a way to use them in my everyday cooking routine. Thank you very much for answering my question.

  11. Trader2000 says:

    Pistachio and walnut shells are often used as a abrasive in a sandblaster to remove paint from surfaces that would be harmed, eroded or scarred by sand or mineral based abrasive. Some vehicle or furniture renovators may be interested.

  12. Ellen Angus says:

    Synchronicity! I was saving pistachio nut shells and kept going back and forth as to how to best use them. The first comment above answered my question. Thanks. I plan to bookmark this site! Thanks to all.

  13. Ellen Angus says:

    Thanks for great suggestions!

  14. Tere says:

    I’m using them to refill a neck wrap/heating pad (heated in microwave) that my daughter made for her father. Originally it was filled with rice. I’ve seen cherry pits used for the same thing, so I why not pistachios. I scrapped out the center, then rinsed and dried them first.

    • Jen says:

      I did some research a while back on cherry pits. I’m not 100% about using in the way you are, but I know that they release arsenic. I wanted to add to my compost but that was said to be toxic. I know you can make liqueurs so I could be wrong in this instance. Just an fyi.

  15. Melinda says:

    I haven’t tried it yet, but I think they could be used to refill a bean bag chair. I plan to fill a small bag- maybe an ummatchable sock- and fill as many as it takes to refill the chair. the sock will keep them cushioned and will pad the edges. This will take a while, because, as much as I like pistachios, they are a seasonal treat. Has anyone else done something like this? I don’t like the idea of filling a beanbag chair with anything plastic or styrofoam. What else can they be filled with?

  16. mohsen shahmoradi says:


    i have some pistachio shells and i want to sell to turkey.
    please help me


  17. Anonymous says:

    I have seen very cute little nut people made using pistashio shells (body,head and maybe shoes) I just can’t remember how they were put to-gether,They sure were awful cute,Maybe 2 1/2 ” high.
    Anybody have the directions ??????

  18. EFERNANDES says:

    Hi Everyone, thanks for posting your ideas on pistachio shells. I am a visual artist and I have developed a technique to make artwork using pistachios shells. Due to their composion, which is hemicellulose, cellulose and lignin, they will last forever, mainly after treating them as of properly. If you wish pls visit my website at – My intention is to make of this technique a historical abstraction approach. If you are giving them away, I can certainly collect them as I plan to teach children in schools. Please loet me know. This type of work has been curated by the art gallery of greater victoria, BC and it is now in a competition at the Chelsea International Competition at the Agora Gallery, NY. Let’s jkeep in touch, cheers EFERNANDES

  19. Ellen says:

    EFERNANDES, What is your address to send shell contributions to? I hardly throw anything out so you’re in luck; I have shells from last year. Good reason to get buy more pistachio’s for the house; love them and can add the shell so what I can send out. I’ll wait for your address. Ellen

    • EFernandes says:

      Hi Ellen
      I am so sorry I did not see your offer in here. Do you still have the shells to donate for my artwork? It is greatly appreciate.
      my addy is: 310-1005 McKenzie Ave, Victoria BC, V8X 4A9 Canada.

      • Kim Taylor says:

        Hi Edmir,
        Are you still using pistachio shells in your artwork? I recently started eating a lot of the nut meat which is tasty and a great snack.
        Kept thinking the shells have to be useful for something. I find it hard to throw away anything that can be reused. Will be glad to send.
        I googled “used for pistachio shells” and found this group.
        Let me know. Take good care.

  20. freedom08 says:

    Sometimes I capture june bugs which land on my porch and torture them for information as to where their hidden base is. Once they give me the information I want to know I tie them to a pistachio (pronounced: piss-ta-chee-oh) and then add a toothpick and piece of paper (triangle shape) to make a small boat. Next, I wait until it floods on my street and I send them on their way to freedom.

    Hope this helps.

  21. Lara leftlane says:

    I throw them onto my path in my fernery. They tend to keep down weeds. Nutshells make pretty good mulch and path spreaders and I put them into pot plants as mulch too. But don’t put sharp ones on your path unless you like a bit of pain.

  22. EFernandes says:

    Hi All Pistachio Lovers:
    I am looking for pistachio shells donors. Can u donate the empty shells for me. I will use them to prepare a workshop for kids.
    You may contact me directly at
    Please let me know.

  23. EFernandes says:

    Hello Everyone
    I am a fine art painter for more than 13 years in Canada. I, 2 years ago, discovered that pistachio shells should be the substrate for my creative artwork. On average I use 800 shells to build a canvas. I invite you to visit my website, hoping you will love it. It is my thank you to Mother Nature for its unspeakable beauty. If you are looking to donating the shells I will appreciate your collaboration with my work.

  24. It the pistachio were salted, I wouldn’t use spread them around the garden,a s salt can hurt plants. Or at least, I would soak them in a bucket of water really thoroughly before using them.
    Same goes for putting them at the bottom of plant pots.

  25. ruth otterness says:

    use them to decorate a bird house. Then paint it or leave it as is.

  26. Rebecca says:

    My understanding is that as they break down, the shells release acids, so they’re better for mulching plants that prefer that end of the pH scale, like roses and azaleas. Plan accordingly.

  27. sam says:

    where can i find the pistachio shell buyers ?

  28. LittleMissTrouble says:

    You can punch holes in them and put string, elastic string, yarn or wire through them to make jewelry! ;)

  29. Gretchen says:

    They can lift your old bathroom into a sanitary with modern and elegant designs and various fixtures.
    By knocking out the wall you can create a space in small bathrooms
    but it is not always possible. Hopefully the sections above have contributed to your understanding of major bathroom remodeling.

  30. Renee says:

    If you’d like to donate your pistachio nut shells in order to prevent throwing them out, I’d love to give them a good home, literally . I’d like to make pet houses, natural mosaics to teach my class about recyling, and cultural fun vests. please contact me @ to donate. Thank you.

  31. Tom says:

    if you collect enough pistachio shells you can melt them down into separate parts and build a table or even a house! the shell actually makes a very strong, pretty wood

  32. a.noah.nemeith says:

    By sheer coincidence I found they make a good stuffing for a neck pillow- Sort of like buckwheat hulls if you are familiar with soba makura. You fill a one liter cylindrical plastic bottle (2 liters are too large) with shells, and then use them as a core for a neck pillow. I found that it provides just the right firmness. I imagine other hard granular organic shells or seeds would also work, but this I found out by accident while going through a bag and using an empty seltzer bottle to collect the shells.

  33. Len says:

    Thanks to the drought, you can get empty pistachio shells for only ten dollars a ton. If you don’t believe me, look at this craigslist ad:

  34. Dinsdale quixote says:

    Kneepads for clumsy ducks.

  35. Harri says:

    Wonder bra’s for Barbie? oyster shells for Ken and Barbies wedding. It’s fun to draw black circles in the centre or wherever, and make crazy new eyes that you can stick on your own eyelids, looks especially good, when eyes are closed. Also fun to put them over your teeth individually, trust me. They make good monster fingernails too

  36. Janine says:

    If you have enough of them, use them to fill potholes, and then run them over to crush them. This is called the New England way because people would do the same thing with clamshells.

  37. Linda Deininger says:

    Where can I buy pistachio shells for crafts?

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