How to Recycle Old Pots and Pans

Put you old pots and pans to other uses -

If it has been many years since you first set up house, you probably have an excess of pots and pans in your cupboard.

If some are no longer appropriate for cooking or you simply want to clear out the clutter and treat yourself to a new set of pots and pans, don’t just throw the old ones away.

This article will offer creative ways that you can recycle those old pots and pans and give them new life.

Use Them For Camping

Most campers would rather not take their best pots and pans with them when they go on a camping trip. If you have some old cookware that is still useful for heating up food, but you ignore it in favor of using newer items, pack the pots and pans away with your camping equipment.

Only using them sporadically when your family enjoys a camping adventure will give them many more years of use.

Use An Old Pot As A Halloween Candy Holder

Before you get rid of that old pot, consider painting it in fun Halloween colors and use it this year to hold the candy for the trick or treaters.

Get the kids involved in the art project and allow them to use a variety of paintbrushes and plenty of orange and black paint to make a really unique Halloween candy holder.

Work Your Old Pots And Pans Into Your Kitchen Décor

Using copper cookware as decorative AND functional equipment in your kitchen |

Some folks decorate their kitchen with old copper cookware – personally I think they should also be put to use

As long as the pots and pans still have a decent appearance to them, you can easily use them in your kitchen to hold items you use on a regular basis and also be cute kitchen decorations.

Iron skillets you no longer cook with can be hung over the stove or on a wall to add to your kitchen decor. A large pot placed on a baker’s rack can hold your many spatulas, oven mitts and wooden spoons.

The pot can easily be moved to the stove when you begin cooking. A smaller pot with the handle removed can be kept under the sink to hold extra bottles of dish washing liquid and sponges.

Set Up A Play Kitchen For Your Kids

This little boy is having great time playing chef - you may not want to give your children the actual ingredients!

Giving your children your old pots and pans is a great idea but you may want to hold off on the actual ingredients!

Kids love to use old pots and pans to pretend to cook with. When you restock your kitchen with new cookware, keep the old pots and pans aside in a low cabinet so that you can easily give your little ones some plastic spoons and let them “cook” with their plastic food. Be sure the pots and pans are not too heavy as this may cause an injury to an overzealous chef.

Use An Old Pot To Hold Cooking Themed Gifts For A New Homeowner

Be sure the pot is still in good enough shape to use as a gift holder, before choosing this option. Line the pot with pretty dishtowels and fill it with cookbooks, spices and large kitchen utensils for a fun housewarming gift.

Donate Your Old Pots And Pans To A Women’s Shelter Or Church

Churches and women’s shelters are often low on funds to fully stock their kitchens and replace cookware that is long past their prime. Give the local shelter or church a call and see if they can put your old cookware to use. They will surely appreciate the donation while you will feel good about making their lives a little bit easier.

About Lynne Jaques

Lynne is a stay-at-home mother of two boys. As a former US military officer and the spouse of an active duty US military member, Lynne enjoys traveling the world (although not the moving part!) and finding new cuisine and methods of preparing food. She also has the habit of using parenthesis way too much!

18 thoughts on “How to Recycle Old Pots and Pans”

  1. My husband just bought me a brand new pots and pans set for my birthday. I have had them sitting in the corner as I wonder what to do with them now that I don’t need them! Your post has given me many great ideas and also encourages our family to take a camping trip in the spring! Awesome post!

  2. If you have some grimy cast iron, don’t toss it out. If you have a self-cleaning oven, you can toss your cast iron in there through that cleaning cycle. Once it is done, the crud will just fall off as ash. You still have to clean off the ash and then start a seasoning process, but it will be as good as new.

  3. The pots we use for camping often end up being out bowls (metal or aluminium, not sure which), it makes for convenience. But I love the idea of using pots as a gift basket! Especially for someone who is arriving and might not have all the cooking essentials. I expect that we could also donate to colleges or university with a campus and foreign students coming. A pot is not usually what is given priority in a suitcase!

  4. Seeing this article was really brilliant timing for me, since I just purchased a whole new set of cookware. I’ve been wondering what to do with the old pots and pans. Some of them I had resolved myself just needed to be thrown out because they really are in such poor shape, but now I see there are other options. Some of those can be given to my kids to play with and maybe used for Halloween Candy. The nicer ones I was planning to donate, but now I might see if there is some way they can be used to decorate my kitchen. Thanks for the super useful tips!

  5. We have just enough cooking stuff I guess you could say. 1 large pot, 2 small pots, 1 frying pan and 2 roasting pans and cookie sheets. They are very old, pretty sure the big pot is from the early 1980s and still going. I like the idea of giving the old ones to your kids for a play kitchen or donating, I would for sure if I could.

  6. I tend to “relegate” old pots and pans. I take the handles off and use them as utensil holders, paint kettles, storage for fiddly little items like nails and screws and even drill holes in the bottom so they can be used as plant pots. I also take them on camping trips too – it doesn’t matter if they get burnt or otherwise wrecked.

  7. I like having old pots, and pans that belong to my relatives that have passed away. Especially if I can remember them cooking with it when I was a child. By in the day people really thought a lot of their kitchen tools. No to mention the fact that it was made to last. I still cook with the same pots, and pans they cooked with 30 years ago.

    • I am going through my mother’s cookware now. Memories and tears.
      So many unused items she hoarded.
      Now my family is grown and I wonder how helpful it would have been to have them then. I plan to repurpose and cook more. Just wish I could turn back the clock to make her happier if I could

  8. I do think donating your old pots and pans is the way to go. If you already have the new ones to replace the old ones, keeping both sets in the house will just give you unnecessary clutter and make you look like a hoarder. Remember, always throw out the stuff you don’t need. Space is precious, and a tidy, spacious house is a beautiful house.

  9. These are some great ideas. Some of these items will also work as planters for plants and flowers (the ones that aren’t real tall). I love finding new ways to use things.

    I have a couple items that I think I’ll set aside for my grandbaby to “cook” with when she’s here. She loves to help.

  10. I was about to throw out some pots… really contemplating, am grateful to have stumbled onto this article, am definitely putting to work one or two tips written above…although i really see myself donating them to church… i definitely need the blessings that will follow 🙂 .

  11. These are some great ideas for repurposing old cookware. I definitely wouldn’t want to take my good pots and pans camping, although I have a few that might be designated for that purpose when I am able to replace them. I’m sure every area is different, but most have ‘life skills’ classes for students with challenges, and these classes often involve simple cooking tasks, so they might appreciate a donation. Also, I often donate my items to Freecycle and/or Trash Nothing.

  12. And here I was not knowing what to do with my old pots and pans, this actually is pretty helpful! I never thought of recycling them, didn’t think the material was that useful. I used to just donate my old cookware to friends or people in need.

  13. Here I was thinking I was the only person that uses an old pot as a Halloween bowl. The first time I did this, my husband thought it was tacky and he wanted to go out an buy something nicer. I was tempted to let him do it, but I was like, what’s wrong with my pan…it doesn’t cost anything to use…and besides, the kids don’t care that their candy is coming out of a pot instead of a bowl.

  14. These are great suggestions. We have been slowly weeding out our old pots – especially the ones that probably aren’t safe to cook with anymore. I never thought to give them to the kids. Perhaps I will set up an outdoor kitchen next to the sand box. Then the old cookware can double as sand toys!

  15. My grandmother used to use her as kinda an outer flowerpot for many of her herbs and stuff that was growing in the kitchen. As you mentioned, it makes not only a neat decoration, but allowed her I guess to use cheap, ugly flowerpots inside that were hidden.

    I like the women´s shelter or even salvation army type donations. For many of us that have been cooking and accumulating gear over the course of our adult life, it is probably tough to remember starting out with a new kitchen and having to buy a lot of stuff at the same time. Giving someone some really cheap or free stuff really can give them a jumpstart.

  16. We are planning on getting new cookware. I may be a great option to gift our old set to my younger sister, who will be moving out on her own soon. Another possible option for using old pots could be to use them as planters for herbs, salad greens, tomatoes, etc.


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