looking for something?

if you've known me for more than a minute you may have heard my expression for what it feels like when i get an idea that just makes sense: 'it's like a white hot hammer of inspiration to the back of the head'

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

bag.. err ... straw sealer

i saw a post that intrigued me, but i thought "i think i have the tools to make that better"
the original is an excellent tutorial, but uses pliers and a lighter

which is fine if what you have on hand is pliers and a lighter. not that i don't have pliers and a lighter on hand. i'm actually pretty sure i have pliers and a lighter in each room of my house. 
but i also have this 
that's a plastic bag sealer that operates on 2 AA batteries. 
also available here

i thought i'd test it with something easier to clean up, and less expensive than neosporin. since i also would use this for backpacking with food items, i tested it with salt.  which went into the straw with the cut corner of an envelope if you don't have a tiny funnel. i do have a tiny funnel but i don't use it for food (perfume) so i wasn't going to cross contaminate for this test. i recovered almost all the salt.

this is the heating element for the bag sealer. notice the narrow line across it - that's the actual heating element under the heat resistant cloth. the top just has the cloth, no extra heat. the top is actually just a small pad to keep the bag (or straw) in place.
 not all of the seams i tried worked. the first few leaked and it turned out i was moving the bag sealer too slowly. i was trying hard to melt the straw, when i didn't need to try at all. a quick swipe worked best, to prevent the straw from shrinking back away from the heating element.

by the end, i got a good seal and would try this with messier things than salt.

for most people, these would all be individual use items, like single doses of neosporin or calamine lotion. but you might have a desire to reseal them. while you are probably also carrying the lighter on a backpacking trip anyway, you might be less likely to carry this bag sealer. but it is very light, especially if you don't carry it with batteries in it. just borrow the batteries from another device for the two minutes it might take to reseal your tubes.

important note: i did also test this with compostable starch based "plastic" straws and got an EXCELLENT seal. if you can be sure your stuff won't be exposed to water regularly, these would be more environmentally friendly in the long run.   


  1. Awesome idea. I will definitely be doing this for DC as I travel with a crew of klutzes :)

  2. i'm seriously considering dropping 3mm neodymium magnet balls into them so they can go in an altoids tin but not spill out all over the place when you open it in a hurry. the magnets can be easily recovered