This question gets mentioned a lot on forums so I thought I’d share my method for removing paint from commercial beer bottles for reuse in bottling homebrew. This works most of the time (New Belgium Lips of Faith bottles seem very stubborn) and it does take a bit of elbow grease, but you can do it.
What you’ll need:
- A pot tall enough to stand your bottles up and keep all the paint submerged
- Star San
- Kitchen gloves
- Heavy-duty scouring pads
- Fill your pot with about 2 gallons of hot tap water. (My pot is a 3 gallon cheap stainless steel pot I got at Walmart.)
- I used a 1 oz / 1 gallon ratio of Star San and water. So add 2 oz of Star San to the 2 gallons of water and stir gently. Pro Tip: Filling the pot before adding the Star San keeps it from foaming up.
- Fill your bottles with hot tap water and submerge them in the kettle. This method saves on Star San, so you’re only using enough for the water that is actually in contact with the paint.
- Let them sit for at least an hour. It could take longer, you’ll start to see the paint sloughing off in a sort of gel.
- Put on your gloves, don’t skip this part, put on the damn gloves.
- Grab your scrub pad and start scrubbing. If one bottle is being stubborn try another and let that one soak a bit more. As I mentioned above some bottles are just really stubborn, I never was able to get the paint off that Lips of Faith bottle.
- Once all the paint is scrubbed off rinse the bottles well.
- Make sure to clean and sanitize before use like any other bottle.
I’ve used this method several times and it works great. You may notice a “ghosting” on your bottles where the paint previously was, but it’s hard to see. Now go bottle up some homebrew.