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. john says:

    Helmets for snails?

  2. sarar says:

    How about drilling little holes in them and threading them onto some elastic for a shell-like chunky bracelet?


    • Clarissa says:

      i had the same idea but its hard to make holes. i am trying to soak them right now maybe to soften them, but then its dangerous poking through so be careful. maybe put them on a surface with the curve side down ,like a bowl, so it wont roll?

  3. Mike says:

    You can make percussion instruments with them. Just seal them inside a dried coconut shell or in a toilet roll tube with the ends stopped up.

    • louisa says:

      Oooh, yes, rattle rattle.

      You could use empty food cans – two of them, cleaned then taped together at the open ends – too. That would probably make a louder noise than cardboard (if loudness was your aim).


  4. john says:

    Apparently pistachio nut shells can be used to remove mercury emissions from power plants! Some researchers found that pistachio carbons had nearly five times larger capacity for the adsorption of mercuric chloride than their coal-derived counterparts.

    I doubt that many readers own their own power plants but something for the future I guess.

  5. Rony says:

    accordign to this site – – you can compress them into briquetts for a bbq

    i dont know if it would work because i would have thought they would splinter but just burning them on a bbq might be an idea

    i dont know if its any better than composting them tho

  6. Alex says:

    Maybe you could collect enough to use as the filling for a bean bag or cushion. They are not sharp and strong enough to take a distributed load..

    I recommend you fill your partners pillow one night and see if they notice.

  7. bev says:

    you could use them at the bottom of plant pots with drainage holes in the bottom – the sheels would stop the soil falling out but would let excess water drain away.

    • Farina says:

      I tried this, but the pistachio shells were too salty and affected the growth of the plant. I think they need to be thoroughly washed first!

    • Jesse says:

      Yes! That is what I use my pistachio shells for, I also use them on the top of pot that need to retain moisture. I put a layer, just like you would with bark. It keeps the moisture in and is a unique and light colored accent to a pot. I worried about the salt, but nothing seemed to happen. I think it washed away over time, and may have been beneficial. However, I did harm one plant because the shells did SUCH a good job keeping moisture in, that a plant that I later found out DIDN’T want moisture, died. oops :) live and learn, right?

  8. Tomdo says:

    You could use them as chips or game pieces when gambling.

    You if you wanted to get really adventurous, you could paint half of them black and use them as Go pieces.

  9. Emanla Eraton says:

    My sister used to use them as fake nails.

  10. kaoss says:

    You can use them as slug deterrents for new plants. They’re salty and sharpish neither of which slugs can cope with. My parsley, beans, caulis etc all survived this year when surrounded with these shells which have now softened up and will be dug in. If you’ve got pot/containers, you could cover the surface to stop the algae & fungus they sometimes get.

  11. shannon says:

    I know this sounds “nuts” (haha) but I love the sound that these shells make hitting each other so I think a wind chime made of these would be great!

  12. dragonlady says:

    they can be used for traction if one gets their auto stuck in ice or snow…

  13. barbara says:

    I use them on Christmas wreaths. They look like
    snowball flowers. I drill each one and string 30 of them on a wire. When I get four bunches, I twist them together. Everyone I made a wreath for loves them.

  14. Katie says:

    Along the same lines as “kaoss” (above), they’re good garden mulch. Here in Australia where we’re in serious drought, mulch may be a bigger issue than it is in the UK, so perhaps for you compost is just as good. But I like them as mulch because they take a long time to break down.

    • suz says:

      Someone once told me that they’re too salty to use as mulch on the garden, not very good for the soil. I’ve never tried so I don’t know for sure but keep that in mind.

      • Emily says:

        Of course I’ll keep that in mind. I tried to make boats with them. I used toothpicks for masts and put a piece of wood on the bottom to make the shell float.
        If you want to contact me, here’s my email address:


  15. marcsi says:

    Glue them onto a pair of insoles and put them in your shoes/slippers for a foot massage while walking around!
    Alternatively glue them onto a board and put it under your feet while sitting at your computer!

  16. njtomboy says:

    earrings… jewelry!

    just paint add a little bling , drill a small hole, add findings & voila! You are the talk of the town!!! LOL…

    Can’t believe I went through your whole archive.. backwards! Great blog!

  17. Ben Dover says:

    jesus christ. just throw them away or into your compost.

  18. Coral says:

    on a trip to the Canadian Rockies a few years ago I saw pine cones used as mulch in public garden beds. So following this thought I would say you could use the pistachio nut shells for mulch.

  19. jenny says:

    spray them gold and use them in popourri

  20. kevin says:

    Use them in your corn or pellet stove they are very good for heat. They also clean the clinker in the corn burners. i would like to buy some if they are clean and bagged??

  21. Elouise says:

    I saw somebody once use umpteen thousand peach pips instead of tar or gravel in their driveway. I guess you’d have to eat a lot of pistachio nuts, but you could use them instead of pebbles for a pathway in the garden or for your driveway.

  22. stella howell says:

    50 kg bags of sawdust available.
    Would anyone like to start a bid for approx 50 x 50 bags

  23. jeff says:

    just for fun ,i added shells to my corn furnance,and what a hot flame came from the pistachio shells , there are cherry pits , corn ,rye ,wheat ,are all combustable if moisture content is correct .

  24. az1 says:

    Hummm…funny..think I will
    add some to my pellet stove.

  25. Rani says:


    I have used them create artworks. You can visit my “home craft ideas” Blog.


    • Mahesh says:

      Very cool. I love the way the Kolapodi found its way in!!

      I am just blown away by some of the ideas people have come up with on this blog. Would be good to try them all but we shell go mad. :-P

  26. renee says:

    I dye them with food coloring, pierce them and string them together to make awesome decorations for party’s/holidays

  27. Andy says:

    Give them to small dogs to lick the salt off them. keeps them quite for a few hours.

  28. money muffin bagel says:

    They are great to paint on. You can paint a little flower on it, with a message carefully written inside of the shell. Its just takes practice and someone to give them to.

    Aside from that, they are the new Ivory! shave them down into straight pieces and use them for inlay pieces in your antique style furniture.

    Or turn them into bug houses. Drill a little door and plant it on a nice sandy surface.

    They also make great fake nails. The only trouble is in the application. I no longer recommend the use of crazy glue. And FYI; hot glue is just painful.

  29. robbie says:

    send them to me i want as many as i can get my hands on

  30. me says:

    just put them in the compost. I don’t see how its a waste…. just ugly little shells anyway.

  31. Oryx says:

    *hopes desperately that people still visit this*

    How exactly might you go about “piercing” a hole in a pistachio shell without having it go ah-splodey all over the place?

    Thanks. xD

  32. J says:

    I’ve never done this before, but if it possible you could probably make a pistachio wind chime. Maybe something like this:

  33. This has been such an entertaining read! Some of the ideas sound great~ if only I could afford the thousands of pistachios required! :D
    Especially for your driveway (our tree farm is total MUD right now), and windchimes. (I’ll definitely have a go at that one, it’s howling a gale right now! :)

  34. Chris says:

    I throw the shells all over the metro seats to annoy Sal. So then he bought a BMW. Therefore the shells can be used to get people to buy BMWs.

  35. jimmy the hand says:

    take your half pistachio shell and fill with moist cotton wool, place a single crest seed on top and wait to grow (wash shell thoroughly – of course!), repeat process as many times as physically able. float in bowl of water (the pistachio shells – not you) perhaps with some candles in order to create an agreeable table feature…we have had rave reviews at our dinner parties!

  36. Dan says:

    you are all odd , just compost them !

  37. Lizzy says:

    fill the bottom of plant pots with them instead of pebbles

  38. Maria says:

    They could be used as boats for ants!

  39. Neighbors says:

    Use as nipple covers when tanning
    Works better than pasties.

  40. addy says:

    you could paint them gray and use them for rocks in miniatures and doll houses. or you could glue them to your shoes and use them for tap shoes(just kidding!).

  41. binla says:

    paste half shells upside down on earthen pots making flowers,then paint the pot along with the studed shells. the painted pot willbe beautiful decorative item for your drawing room shelf.

  42. Harry says:

    What about using them as vagina stuffers?

  43. Fiona says:

    Hi, Funny, I recently (after eating a lot f pistachios…yum) wondered what I could do with them other than put them in my composter. I came up with the idea of using them as drainage for the bottom of plantpots….very handy.

  44. Bobby Seibert says:

    I like to glue them on my nuts so they clink together when I walk around!

  45. Cat says:

    Use pistachio shells instead of packing peanuts when shipping or packaging something !

  46. Kati says:

    They make the BEST kindling!


  1. How can I reuse or recycle plastic food wrapping/bags? » How can I recycle this? 19 03 08

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