How to Make an Outdoor Walkway Candle Light

Would you like to create original pathway candle light for an outdoor party or leading to the entrance of your home on a DIY budget? Then I have just the DIY outdoor lighting project for you. How to make outdoor candle lights using plastic bottles, yes… you read that right… plastic bottles.

I got the idea for today’s post when I was at the Go Further With Ford Trend Conference in Dearborn Michigan last week.

How to make-Walkway-Lights from Plastic Bottles

You are probably thinking what does the Ford Trend Conference have to do with recycling plastic bottles into something useful like outdoor lighting?  Well a lot!  I was invited to attend the conference along with 269 other bloggers from all niches. To say it was a great conference is an understatement. I learned so much and had an equal amount of fun.


The conference was about how Ford is looking at the future to make their cars, company, and the world better – technology as well as sustainability wise.  When I first arrived I was expecting to see the prototype for a George Jetson style car – you know the one that folds up into a briefcase.

The Jetsons Green Car White Background

I didn’t see that, but what I did get to see and do was drive a car that parallel parks for you. Wish I had that when I took my drivers test when I was 16?  I got to drive a Ford Focus – Ford’s first all-electric vehicle on the Test Track, a shiny red 2013 Mustang, as well as race the clock in a Ford Escape, plus get driven off road by a professional driver. That was a little scary – but fun!

Ford-Mustang at 2012 Go Futher with Ford Trend Conference

I also learned a lot at the 4 Trend sessions and a DIY dinner party at the Detroit area TechShop.

But what I saw first hand that made me smile is how Ford is using recycled materials in their cars – from used plastic bottles in the seat padding to recalled tires to cushion the field in the Detroit Lions Stadium that the Ford family owns.


That is me sitting on the 50 yard line on top of the turf – under it is a layer of the shredded tires that were recalled from Firestone.

Diane of In My Own Style on the 50 yard line at Ford Field

Ford is also researching how to use shredded retired U.S. paper currency into plastic parts as well as recycled denim as sound deadener (yes that is a word)

All this got me thinking how I like to try to help reduce waste and use items destined for the trash into decorative stuff.

The plastic bottles reminded me of the outdoor candle lights I made and that were in my book, Instant Decorating. I thought it fitting that the project get a 2012 update when I got home from the conference.


Here is my updated version.  They complement the tuna can lanterns I use in my backyard. These are shorter and will line the front walkway of my house. They are even easier than the tuna can lantern to make.  I chose to place them on dowels so they would be raised from the ground like walkway lighting usually is.

Decorative Ideas-for-recycling-plastic

You could also just place the plastic bottle section right into the ground – no dowel needed.  Lots of options.  I like  to use them during the holidays to line my walk.  Another option for holiday lighting is to save glass jars and line your walk using them with candles to light the way to your front door.


How to make a Plastic-Bottle-Candle-Light

Use battery lights if you are going to leave the lights unattended. A votive or tea light style will fit perfectly.  If using real candles use a tea light that has a metal casing and place it in some sand to buffer it.

Outdoor Lighting Ideas

I found these battery style tea lights at Walmart.   I wanted to use battery votive size, but they were sold out.  I will pick up a few on my next visit.


How to Make Outdoor Candle Lights Using Plastic Soda Bottles

supplies needed:

  • 1 Plastic bottle – I used 20 fl. oz bottles
  • 1 –  7/8” diameter dowel  cut  12-inches high
  • Rust-oleum Hammered Brown Spray Paint
  • Wire – I used 20 gauge craft wire, but any wire will work
  • CitraSolv or Goo Gone
  • Wire cutters
  • Painter’s tape
  • Coffee filter
  • Scissors
  • Craft knife
  • Battery Operated Candles –  tea lights or votive size will work
  • Optional: Sand

1. Cut the plastic ring off the bottle and remove label.  If there is any label residue – soak in soapy water and remove with your fingernail.   CitraSolv will get the sticky residue off. Make sure to wash off the CitraSolv right after the label is removed or it may dull the finish.


2.  To remove the stamped on numbers on the bottle use CitraSolv or Goo Gone. I think nail polish remover may work also, but test it first to make sure it won’t dull the plastic.


3.  Use scissors or a craft knife to cut the bottle using the painters tape as your guide.



4.  Place cut bottle on top of dowel that it is cut to the height you want.  Wrap the wire around and around to cover the mouth of the bottle.  Leave the end sticking out. Once covered to your liking– cut the end and twist it with the starting end of the wire that you left sticking out. Then gently push the twisted ends into the wrapped wire to hide.


I only wrapped the bottom section of the bottle’s mouth. You can go all the way up, especially if you are going to be using sand. It will look better.


How to Spray Paint Outdoor Walkway Candle Lights Once Assembled

  1. Fold the filter in half, and then in half again.  Snip the tip off and when you open the filter there will be a hole in the center.


2.  Wrap the bottom of the bottle with tape and them place a coffee filter over it. Use tape to attach the filter to the bottom to make sure the plastic is covered so it will be masked when you spray paint.


3.  Spray the dowels and wire. A few light coats are best – let each coat dry before applying the next.  When dry, remove the coffee filters and tape.


How to Install DIY Outdoor Walkway Candle Lights Outside A Home

Place the dowel end of the candle light in the dirt along your walkway. I made a small hole with a shovel and then placed the dowel in. To wedge it in deeper – I kept pushing it in and moved the dowel in a circular motion.  Then tapped the dirt around the dowel to secure.

Now I have practically free stylish walkway lights for the front of my house. Makes me feel good that I am designing with the planet in mind and doing my part in trying to recycle and reuse items that normally would end up in the trash.

DIY Outdoor Walkway Candle Lights – When Lit

DIY Plastic-Bottle-Candle Holder

DIY Outdoor Walkway Candle Lights – When Unlit

DIY Outdoor Walkway Lights

Related Posts You May Like:

Why I Like To DIY

How To Make an Outdoor Lantern Using a Tuna Can


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  1. Miguelina Sunderland says:

    Love your pactical ideas. All great, easy to do and good recycling.

  2. This is genious! I have a long curved driveway and visitors always have a hard time backing out at night. Your pictures are super inspiring …thanks for sharing!

  3. Here in western upstate New York, we return our plastic bottles for a
    monetary refund.

  4. Hi, I’m in 5th grade and we’re doing things out of plastic bottles, this helped a lot! I’m going to do it another way though, Thanks!

  5. Melinda (Auntie Em) says:

    That is about the cleverest thing I have seen! Got to try it! I found you on your free font pin– thanks! I haven’t done it yet but will.. Love your site!

  6. Great Idea. I may have to give this a try.

  7. Gigi Ables says:

    I have been making fabulous flowers from plastic soda bottles , they look like glass , REALLY!! Since my craft only uses the middle flat portion, I hated throwing away the tops and bottoms. I did save a few for funnels and cups to start seeds…Now I can try this and use it all !

    1. Hi Gigi-

      I will have to find out how you make the flowers as I have the bottoms of all the bottles I used for the lights still sitting on my work table as I am trying to come up with a way to use them. Thanks for sharing your idea. Do you have a post on how to make them?

      1. Gigi Ables says:

        Hi Diane, Wish I could claim the credit for this awesome idea…BUT ALAS…stumbled upon it looking for recycling/upcycling ideas. You can find the video from Luvleescrappin on Youtube. She does a two part tutorial showing two styles of flowers. I used the “color your flowers with a sharpie” comment and ran with it…being a closet artist..MY flowers combine different shades of color on each layer of petals , edge shading and veining. Sharpie brand is the marker I used. They have several bonus packs with 8 to 12 colors and the BEST PRICE! The cheapest store brands of soda have the most flat areas to use for the petals and leaves. It is easy to get several shades of green bottles. I have begun experimenting with other shapes for the petals , more rounded , really getting a very different look. I also cut the edges of the leaves with a gentle wave to accentuate the curl created by the flame. I have used these on barrettes, hair clips, headbands, brooches. I am brainstorming other uses…bookmarks, zipper pulls, jewelry, pen toppers, shoe clips,and on and on…Maybe I need to get my own video tutorial! Hope you enjoy this project as much as much as I. Thanks, Gigi

  8. So creative and pretty! I hope you will link these up to The CSI project starting tonight. The challenge is Summer outdoor decorating and parties. Come on over! You just might win!

    1. Hi Dee –

      I will link up. Thanks for the reminder. I love outdoor living projects.

  9. Jessica @ Decor Adventures says:

    Hi Diane,

    Love this idea. And I was just thinking about some ways to light the backyard.

    By the way, they sell those battery tea lights at the dollar store, go check there for them!

    1. Hi Jessica – Haven roomie of mine :) I will check out my dollar tree this afternoon. Thanks for the tip. I hope you had a nice 4th.

  10. Diane, you are so clever! I love this idea- it seems like it would be fun project to do with older kids too. Good for keeping idle summer hands busy! I have to pin it!

    1. Thanks Bettsi –

      It is a super easy project. In my book, Instant Decorating – I placed the lights on old broomsticks and put them in flower pots on a porch. Lots of options on how to decorate them. Stencil a pattern along the top edge or use a paper hole punch to add a decorative design along the top.

  11. What a great idea. Would be very pretty in the evening.

  12. Nif @ Call Me Nif says:

    You are simply amazing!! I loved reading about what Ford is doing (thank you for sharing, it’s great to see what these big corporations are doing to reduce our collective footprint), but I am BLOWN AWAY by your creativity. Just genius. I’m in awe. Thanks so much for sharing!!

  13. You are a genius when it comes to recycling by recreating. I salute you!! ^.^

  14. Just one word………………….brilliant! I am so going to do this!!!

  15. Designed Decor says:

    What a great idea! They look so cute!

  16. Sheryll & Critters. says:

    I love the idea of using plastic soda bottles. I don’t have any, but I will be checking with friends for theirs. And this year, I am using the white pvc pipe for mine that I am cutting shorter than the 6 ft ones I did last year. It is cheaper to buy than wooden dowels and works quite well for the short ones for the front yard. I like taller ones for the back patio, so last year I used a few of those 1 x 2 firring strips and just cut some off to nail the tuna can through to hold onto the strip. Does that make sense? lol

  17. Congrats to ford for going green. I had a red 1967 mustang! Great fun!
    I love flame less candles especially with timers.Thanks for sharing. Can see putting one in a large pot as up lighting on a patio.

    Birthmothers never forget

  18. Beth@AtoZ says:

    This is brilliant Diane! It was so much fun to get to know you at the Ford event :). I love how you wove the event into your post. Again…brilliant girl!!

  19. Thanks for sharing! Great project.

  20. Hi, Diane

    What a great project! Happy 4th!


  21. This is a wonderful post, from start to finish! Way to go Ford (and Lions!)! FANTASTIC fun use for the plastic bottles too!

  22. Connie@Connie Nikiforoff Designs says:

    I think these look great! However we almost always have wind here so I think the flame of a real candle would wisp over and start burning the plastic. However, I have used small glass jars with tea lights or candles in them for party lighting. We get some of our nutritional supplements in these pretty brown glass bottles. They have wide mouths that can accommodate tea lights nicely. I’m currently saving small jelly or pickle jars for outside party lighting.

  23. Kristi Riley says:

    This is so creative and a very “GREEN” idea. So perfect for summer time crafting. Thank you so very much for sharing this and providing so many pictures and step by steps :)

  24. Genius. Pure genius.

  25. It’s a great project and they look expensive!

  26. What a neat idea… But, I was curious, does the plastic bottle melt from the heat of the candle / wax?

    1. Hi Ashley – that is a common question. I have been making these for years and only once did one melt – not from the flame, but from the melted wax. I would put sand in the bottom first – then the candle if using a real candle. When I first made these as a project in my book 16 years ago there was no such thing as battery operated candles. Now there are and some of them look just like the real thing. I like to use them since they won’t blow out if it gets breezy and you won’t have to worry if little children are around. They sell the battery operated candles at Target, Walmart, the dollar store, as well as in the home section in department stores.

  27. You are infinitely clever! I just can’t get over it!