How can I reuse or recycle conkers?

Well, this isn’t so much as “reuse or recycle” question as saying “instead from leaving them there to rot, can conkers be used for anything fun or practical?” It is kinda a “reduce this” question too – can I reduce my use of something else by using conkers instead?

I picked up some conkers on a dog walk at the weekend – I couldn’t help myself because fresh from their slick shells, they’re a delight to touch – so shiny & smooth. Could they be used for decorative crafts? Any techniques for preserving the lustre?

Conkers are more correctly known as horse-chestnuts but they’re a completely different species to sweet chestnuts and are actually poisonous. Apparently though that poison can be harnessed for good – bowls of conkers can be used to deter spiders & moths from moving into your home/wardrobe.

And of course, they can be used for playing conkers.

Anyone know of anything else that can be used for?

(Photo by fredb2)

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11 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle conkers?”

  1. Petra says:

    We always made little men with matches and conkers, like these:
    and spider webs, like these:

    I don’t know what else you can do with them, except making this kind of children’s craft.

  2. Kacy says:

    Wow! I have never heard of conkers before. I live in the us and sometimes come across different names for things on this website, but this one is completely new to me. I don’t even recognize the picture as something I have ever seen.

  3. Anonymous says:

    What’s a conker? i live in the us, so they might not grow here

  4. bookstorebabe says:

    Well, I’m in the U.S., also-and they’re buckeyes! Okay, the American Buckeye tree is in the same family as the horse chestnut she’s showing a picture of. I don’t have any ideas on what to do with them either…but they are nifty.

  5. megan says:

    The show “grow your own drugs” had an episode about natural remedies from tree sources, and one thing I’ve been meaning to try is the varicose vein gel from horse chestnuts. here is the recipe:

  6. says:

    If you peel the hard brown shells off the actual nut and then break the nut into pieces you can use them to handwash clothes. They are distantly related to soap nuts (or so I’ve been told).
    You simply add them to warm water and use the water to wash/rinse clothes. Make sure you rinse well afterwards but your clothes come out really soft and lovely.
    I knit a lot of things and I find it one of the most gentle things to wash handknit items in.
    Hope to help
    x x x

  7. rachel fritterson says:

    we have just spent a wonderful weekend playing games of conkers,whilst also stringing up the conkers and making halloween decorations/spider deterrents! Its official,i love conkers!!!

  8. Bertie says:

    I’ve heard that a few placed around the home are supposed to deter spiders

  9. Pussiboots says:

    can be used for washing if you have soft water, this link gives good information on this abd also mentions the American sweet buckeye

  10. jen says:

    I am just wondering the best way to dry them…I collected a whole bunch, put them in a vase….and they started to get mouldy…any ideas? Thanks a bunch:)

    • emma says:


      i would try piercing a hole in the scarred part, and put it in a low temp oven to dry out, or wait until you do a roast, and sit them in the bottom shelf for a couple of hours

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