How To Cut a Glass Bottle Using Nail Polish, String, and Fire

Beer Bottle Glass

 Note to Sweet Mom…..Watch the second video ONLY.

It all started when I was suffering the web trying to find some fun stuff for Beer Can day on El Morno. I found a video on You Tube that demonstrated how you could cut a beer bottle in half using string, acetone nail polish remover, fire, and water. I showed it to Cole (my 16 year old son)  and he wanted to try it immediately. We had twine, water, and fire, but we didn’t have nail polish remover, so one of us was going to have to trudge out into the below zero cold and buy some at Walgreens. The trudger ended up being me, because Cole still had math homework to complete before we launched into our bottle cutting project.

By now I should have learned that these kinds of projects are never as easy as they look, nothing works like magic, and most of the time key information is left out of the instructions. In the interest of full disclosure, I’m going to show the before and after video. And provide you with a full set of directions and disclaimers.

First you practice… on the doohicky flower thingy if you want to enlarge the video.


And then….



Bottle: beer bottle seems to work best for beginners

Acetone nail polish remover:  Nail polish remover is sold with or without acetone–make sure you buy the polish remover with acetone, 

Cotton Twine,

Fire:  long lighter, matches, or cooking torch


Choose a spot to work that is fire resistant.

Prepare a large bowl or bucket of very cold water. If the water is not cold enough, this experiment won’t work. We used a stainless bowl filled with ice water and then added table salt to make it even colder.

Wrap the cotton string around the bottle at the point where you want the bottle to break. (The thinnest area of the bottle is best. If the glass is too thick, the bottle won’t break.) Wrap the string around the bottle six or seven times. Cole tried using wire, but it didn’t work (as you can see in the first video).

Pour the Acetone nail polish remover on the string, soaking it. Squeeze the string a bit so it soaks up as much fluid as possible.

Set the bottle on the counter or concrete, Hold the bottom of the bottle with one hand, and light the string on fire with the other hand. Turn the bottle on its side a bit and rotate it. We used a butane cooking torch (originally bought for crème burlee), but a lighter or long matches will also work.

Let the string burn until it goes out, then immediately drop the bottle into the cold water. If it doesn’t break on its own, quickly grab the bottle and apply pressure to the heated area to break the bottle.

The bottle should snap, but if it doesn’t, you may want to try again. It may take more than one try to break the bottle. Some bottles are easier to break than others. As we demonstrate in the video this hack takes time to master.

We were not as casual as it looks like in the video: A working fire extinguisher is on top of the fridge; we were working on a fire resistant surface; my teen has been setting desserts (Plum pudding, Baked Alaska, and Cherries Jubilee) on fire for years (Thank you Richard) observing how alcohol interacts with fire, he also works with hot pottery and metal kilns (ovens) at school.

Have FUN,  but remember be mindful when you are working with fire, alcohol and sharp edges.


14 thoughts on “How To Cut a Glass Bottle Using Nail Polish, String, and Fire

  1. lol you do find some interesting projects . I love yours and Coles myth buster videos. Oh and thanks for the snow. It is something we dont get often in the south. 8)

  2. This is so wonderful…in your kitchen with your son. I love it. Best of all I like the back and forth between you and Cole!

  3. I think you just did a commercial for how well your counter top stands up to fire. Very cool. What do you sand it with and who was drinking all that beer?

    • Course sand paper sands the glass down but we used a Dremel tool. We went dumpster diving for empty beer bottles…of-course. Our counter tops are ancient but nothing burns them. It was fun. Try it. If you do it like we did in the second video, I bet you get it the first time. . .just make sure to the water is very cold and you wrap the string around tightly and let it heat up completely. Go for it!

  4. Love the fact that Cole is in the kitchen with you. Both my son and my daughter loved to “play” and “experiment” in the kitchen. My daughter and her husband cook as a major hobby, and my son became a professional chef after attending Culinary Institute of America. He tells me it was those early days in the kitchen with me that did it, so congratulations on getting you boys in the kitchen – they learn to love it so quickly. As a nurse practitioner with access to the chemistry lab at the university where I teach, I might try to polish the edges of the bottles over a Fisher Burner … they’d make interesting glass wear or – at the very least – pretty little vases.

    • Great idea about a Fisher Burner. We used a Dremel tool but the burner might make it smoother. Cole is surrounded by men that cook…now if only we could teach them to clean — like we do 😀

    • Yep. That is the real reason we wanted to try this experiment…always striving to find more ways to keep things out of landfills—thank you for recognizing we were doing our civic duty and not just playing with fire!! 😀 If we end up making some pretty vases I will send a few Southwest.

  5. Pingback: Real Men Use An Apple Peeler - Odd Loves Company

Comments are closed.