101 things to do with walnut shells?

topic posted Sun, August 31, 2008 - 7:21 PM by  Jessica
I've got an overabundance of them littering my yard, along with the fattest squirrels in the zip code. The tree-climbing rodents get a majority of the nuts, and i'm left with a bazillion little shell pieces. I'd love to find some use for them if anyone has ideas.

I've used them to make a beautiful dark dye with but seriously- there's only so many things one can dye brown. Anyone else more creative?
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  • With a small coping saw and a nutpick, you can make tiny baskets of any whole walnuts they leave on the ground. They make fun Xmas tree ornaments. When I was a kid, we used to spray paint them different metallic colors.
    • I would leave them natural looking and make jewelry out of them, maybe afix some onto leather and sell them to tribal belly dancers... also do some things to use them in hair gardens... check out some belly dancing stuff...I am a belly dancer that is why I say that.....
      • I don't know why but I thought of the walnut shells after I went to bed. what if you were to drill the top and bottom near the crack part and thread them in a row on a cord and do a bunch of lines of them and them make a "beaded curtain" you could also put something in the middle inside like a shiney bead... whoo hooo, now I am going to work, so I will think about it all day...ok what if you paint them green, cut out a turtle shape out of felt, glue that on the bottom side of the shell and make a bunch of turtles... or you could do something where you could make turtles out of them and give them to your friends to put in their potted house plants. or you could plant a tiny violet in each one, or you could put a fluffy cotton ball in each one and leave it under a toad stool for a teeny tiny fairy.... ok I had better have more coffee....
  • A
    offline 0
    Being a "guy", I'm not much into the jewelry and crafts thing (no offense to those who are) - I'm more of a utilitarian.
    Just tossing out some undeveloped ideas - practical or not:

    - Grind or crush and mix with other building materials?
    - Glue the halves to the bottom of things you want to raise up slightly (maybe that computer tower?) - also serves as a sort of coaster (though may damage some surfaces). Might raise containers off the garage floor -areas that may get a little damp?
    - Glue the halves back together and use for floats for ... (sorry, as far as I got)
    - Glue the halves back together and use for ...
    --) Make the inside smooth and place a small round pebble inside - glue together and you've got a cat toy (painful to step on); maybe even drill some small holes in it.
    --) Glue the halves back together and use for weights for something? ... maybe fill with sand

    (I'm going to start a thread about web sources for ideas on how to use / re-use commonly available items 101 things to do with... .)
    • >a bazillion little shell pieces<

      Sounds like fuel to me. Burn 'em!

      • yeah, unfortunately there's very rarely a half shell, much less a whole, more like scraps.

        fuel sounds like the only option so far.
        • Well, I dont have a bazillion of pieces, but my busy nutcrackers are the neighborhood kids cracking them with a stone..leaving a pile of scraps all over the floor..
          So, I have added them to my compost. Although they dont really compost as such, they are a good soil lightener for heavy clay soils like in my neighborhood..

          Also, my mum burns stuff like that to ashes and uses them to make home made pottery glazes,- but I have no idea if walnut shells are particularly exciting for that..

          I am told that a tincture of unripe walnuts will kill off your tape worm, if you have one (!)

          and young walnuts will give a deep orange dye, rather than a dark brown one..

          and my daughter suggested you use the shells to throw at the squirrels, so you get some nuts too...!
          • "and my daughter suggested you use the shells to throw at the squirrels, so you get some nuts too...! "
            I throw the whole walnuts (from the tree in my yard) in my dogs general direction when he's barking like mad at nothing out in the yard (I live in a trailer park and try to keep the barking to a minimum). Gets his attention. Whoever thought walnut trees in a trailer park was a good idea was an idiot. Sounds like we're being bombed all through October :)
          • Unsu...
            BLACK walnut shells the kind that are thick and green and come from a black walnut tree, and dye things brown, have something in them that suppresses the germination of seeds. So I don't know that putting them in compost is a great idea. You could chop them up pretty small and pave a path with them. . . .
  • Jessica, that dye idea sounds great what with the price of RIT. How do you treat the walnut shell pieces to get them to be dye? Do you boil clothes in the pieces or what? How do you fix the color to keep it from washing out?
    • "Jessica, that dye idea sounds great what with the price of RIT. How do you treat the walnut shell pieces to get them to be dye? Do you boil clothes in the pieces or what? How do you fix the color to keep it from washing out?"

      Unlike a lot of other plant dyes, you don't need a mordant or fixative. It's one hellishly strong dye- in fact i walked around with brown fingertips for close to two weeks after i used 'em last year.
      They will make a brown dye simply by boiling the shells (and funky green casing) in water. that's all you have to do. I added a bit of salt just because i didn't trust it wouldn't run. I boiled a pot of them for an hr or so, then strained out the shells and dunked in some cotton yarn. The only "pre-treatment" of the yarn was soaking it in hot water before dunking it in the hot dye bath. I simmered it for a while and got various colors ranging from creamy tan to deep, dark brown depending on how long i left it. I got the darkest color from leaving one skein of yard in the pot overnight with the heat off. By the next day it was practically black.
      I didn't dye any other cloth coz i couldn't think of what i'd use it for- i don't sew very much.
  • You can make a wonderful soap scrub with walnut shells.
    1. Start saving your left over bits of soap. Or buy some in bulk like at a Sam's club.
    2. Once you've collected about a ziplock bag full of soap pieces.........
    3. Shred the soap with a cheese grater.
    4. In a stainless steel pot put 1 or two cups of water and boil.
    5. While water is boiling, put cleaned and dried walnet shells in a food processor with an "S" blade and grind down to a fine powder.
    6. Add the shredded soap to the water to melt it down. Use enough soap for it to become solid again later.
    7. Mix in a desired amount of the shell powder, stir to mix evenly (turn off heat first)
    8. Then pour mixture into a cigar box fully lined with aluminum foil. Make sure the foil is over lapping the outer ledges of the box (or any small box will do)
    9. Let cool into a giant solid bar of soap, cut it in four squares, wrap each bar in some nice clear plastic with a ribbon and give them to your girlfriends.
    10. can also by pure lavender oil at a health food store and place a few drops in the soap mixture before it cools and becomes solid.

    This makes a great gift and the walnut powder can be used in any store bought lotion as a moisture scrub in the bath. (just make sure there are NO large pieces of shell in the powder.)
    • I have been wondering: does anyone know if its ok to add to a henna hair dye? it would make it easy to adjust to a brown (some people use black tea for this, but I think that doesnt have enough staying power).
      • Unsu...
        people do color their hair with walnut - I have not done it and I haven't checked on any toxicity issues, but I would check that first and then yes it is supposed to work on the hair.

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