Introduction: 11 Unusual Uses for Straws

Picture of 11 Unusual Uses for Straws

Straws are already pretty great for sipping down delicious drinks, but did you know there so much more that can be done besides the ordinary?

Fun and inexpensive, straws are versatile and functional. Follow along as we explore vacuum sealing bags to noisemakers. 11 unusual uses for straws is sure to show you something you didn't already know about seemingly innocent straws.

Think of any other uses for straws? Share your ideas in the comments below.

      Step 1: ​paint Fun

      Picture of ​paint Fun

      Maybe you remember using straws to blow paint around in elementary school art class - In case you forgot, it's loads of fun!

      Water based paint works best for this, as it can easily be diluted with a little water to make a thin paint. Either load a little paint into the straw, or dab a small puddle onto your canvas, then gently blow through the straw to create a unique art piece.

      Blowing a thin stream of air over the wet paint will allow it to crawl across the canvas and create interesting branches of colour. Try letting one color dry then applying another colour over to really give your piece depth.

      Step 2: ​flower Holders

      Picture of ​flower Holders

      Fix droopy flowers by propping up the weak stems with thick straws. Alternatively, you can use straws as an extender to give your flowers new length in a tall vase.

      Just find any straw that's larger in diameter than the flower stem. Clear stars work well, as do green ones.

      Step 3: ​wire Organizers/markers

      Picture of ​wire Organizers/markers

      In our digital age wire management is critical. Never accidentally unplug the wrong thing again my clearly labeling your device wires.

      Cut a straw lengthwise, then cut into small segments, wrap these segments around wires and label them with an indelible marker. Use a few different colour straws to keep things really organized.

      Step 4: ​spoke Fun (embellishments)

      Picture of ​spoke Fun (embellishments)

      Another classic from childhood are embellishments to your bike spokes. Straws can make a colourful and fun addition to your ride.

      Cut the straws lengthwise, then cut into segments. The straws can them be fit around each spoke, alternating colours or keeping it one consistent colour around each spoke of the entire rim.

      After this all you need is a card in the spokes and you're all set to cruise the neighbourhood!

      Step 5: DIY Vacuum Sealer

      Picture of DIY Vacuum Sealer

      Putting food into a plastic storage bag is a good way to keep things fresh, but you can keep things even fresher by removing any air trapped in the storage bag and prevent it from going stale.

      If you don't have a commercial vacuum sealer all you need to do is put your food into a resealable bag and close the seal most of the way, insert your straw into the bag before closing the seal and then suck as much air as you can from the bag. While holding he suction with your mouth, seal the bag while removing the straw in one motion. It might take some practice, but when done correctly you can effectively create a vacuum inside the resealable bag and keep for fresher for longer.

      Step 6: Necklace Chain Holder

      Picture of Necklace Chain Holder

      Keeping your delicate necklaces organized might be easier said than done, but keeping them safely threaded inside a straw is a good way to keep them from getting tangled.

      By using different coloured straws you can organize your jewellery by type, and different size straws can accommodate chunkier necklaces.

      Step 7: Straw Flute

      Picture of Straw Flute

      Start a band by making a straw flute. Bite the end of a straw to flatten it out, then snip the flattened end to a point. Carefully cut small holes along the length of the straw for the tone holes.

      To play, insert the cut end into your mouth and press down gently with your lips, then blow through the straw. You should hear the straw vibrating in your lips creating a buzzing sound, you may need to refine the placement of the straw in your mouth and the amount of air pushed through to get a sound. You'll know when you get it right.

      By varying the placement of the tone holes you can create different sounds. Just remember to not cut more tone holes than you have fingers to cover. Here's a short video of the straw flute I made.

      Step 8: Straw Siphon (science!)

      Picture of Straw Siphon (science!)

      Joining two straws together can make a fun science experiment showing the action of a siphon.

      A siphon is an inverted 'U' shape, which causes a liquid to flow upward above the surface of a reservoir, with no pump, but powered by the fall of the liquid as it flows down the tube under the pull of gravity, and discharging at a level lower than the surface of the reservoir whence it came.

      To make a siphon, gently fold the end of one straw lengthwise and feed it inside the second straw then roll the folded end with your fingers to undo the fold and create a seal between the two straws.

      With a full glass of water placed near a sink, insert the straw into a full glass of water and suck on the straw to prime the siphon. Put the end of the straw into the sink below the bottom level of the glass and the siphon action should start draining the water from the glass. Science at work!

      Step 9: Individual Storage for Powders

      Picture of Individual Storage for Powders

      Straws also make great containers to store individual portions of any kinds of powders, like sugar, sports drinks, or salt and pepper.

      Making your own is easy, all you need is parchment paper and an iron. Cut the straws to the desired length, but at least 2" long so you can safely work with the straw and the iron. Fold over the parchment paper and insert the end of the straw in the valley of the fold, then work a hot iron over the parchment covered straw to melt the plastic seal the straw end.

      Fill the straw with your powder, then seal the other end. These small sachets are great for portion control, and they are waterproof!

      Step 10: ​funnel Extender

      Picture of ​funnel Extender

      Funnels are really handy tools, but the wide top doesn't always fit into tight spaces. Luckily most funnels have a tapered bottom that allows straws to be attached and extend the range of the funnel.

      Step 11: Toothpick

      Picture of Toothpick

      For the times when a toothpick is not at hand, or when you want to subtlety remove food stuck in your teeth while at the table.

      Bite the end of the straw flat, creating a sharp point at the end. Then gently (and covertly) use it as a toothpick to dislodge anything stuck between your teeth. As a bonus, you can then use the straw to enjoy some of your beverage and rinse your mouth. If done correctly, no one will be the wiser.


      Do you have some more unusual uses for straws? I want to see them!

      Share them in the comments below, tips with a picture included will get a free Pro Membership to Instructables.

      Comments

      RachelW96 (author)2017-03-03

      I read most of the comments, but I didn't see: Cat Toy. The bendy ones especially. They're light & easy to bat around, not to mention fairly quiet!

      Also! Tip - when you make the sachets, you can (carefully) heat the tips on a pair of pliers to seal the ends, instead of using an iron!

      doo da do (author)2016-08-07

      CHeck out the history of straws, how they came up with the diameter, ect.

      TCoyne14 made it! (author)2016-07-17

      Jello worms for Halloween parties.

      acontella (author)TCoyne142016-07-25

      we made these for a halloween party, and they were a hit! we used a purple and a blue jello, and added 1-2 tablespoons of half-and-half or cream to make them opaque. so disgusting looking - especially at the ridged part from the bendy straw.

      thundrepance (author)TCoyne142016-07-18

      so COOL! :^D

      vicpoole (author)2016-07-24

      Thank you all - I'll give them a try

      vicpoole (author)2016-07-18

      I love the straw sachets but I have a lot of trouble filling them.
      A little paper funnel seems to get very messy - any other ideas how to???

      KG-DIY (author)vicpoole2016-07-22

      There are bead (as in jewelry) funnels - extremely tiny. I think they would work.

      vicpoole (author)KG-DIY2016-07-24

      Thank you. I didn't think of those. I have similar for decanting perfume

      edm2 (author)vicpoole2016-07-18

      Make a little scoop/shovel with a straw end.

      KG-DIY (author)edm22016-07-22

      Years ago they had just such a straw for the Slurpees at 7-11.

      CindyLemire (author)vicpoole2016-07-18

      I have a tiny metal funnel that I got years ago, maybe to use with essential oils, I don't remember. But couldn't you use a straw to cut, shape and tape into a tiny funnel? Just a thought.

      Calbo32 (author)2016-07-17

      my 9 year old granddaughter showed me this: put end of straw in arm pit. Blow on other end. Laugh hysterically.

      KG-DIY (author)Calbo322016-07-22

      I love that you posted this. Made my day. Thanks for the smile.

      thundrepance (author)Calbo322016-07-18

      x^D

      RogerD5 (author)2016-07-18

      Please don't hate this, but.......

      Those straw packets can be used to hide weed. PLEASE DO NOT DO THAT

      KG-DIY (author)RogerD52016-07-22

      If you're going camping - they're a great holder for toothpaste.

      LynetteSq (author)RogerD52016-07-18

      Doesn't mean they will be used for that... also, what do you care?

      ChrisM235 (author)2016-07-21

      Elephant catheters.

      OneBirdieMa (author)2016-07-18

      Ever need to add a drop or two to something and lack and eyedropper? Use a small diameter straw, insert one end into the liquid to be dropped (dripped?), cover the other end and lift the straw out and over the whatever to be dripped (dropped) on. Release the airtight hold on the straw gently to make sure of getting only the small amount desired . . . . inspired to add here as I recalled how to do this because I need to put one drop of almond extract in a dish of apricot puree to be dried as fruit leather . . . .

      jmlb (author)OneBirdieMa2016-07-20

      You can squeeze the straw instead of lifting your finger and you will have a bit more control

      deltron-z (author)2016-07-19

      Mini blow guns

      lyndell.netherton (author)2016-07-17

      i use straws as cherry pitters. just remember to put our thumb over the straw end to add air pressure so it doesn't bend

      Was1x (author)lyndell.netherton2016-07-19

      We use straws too, as well as the one cherry pitter we have, so more people can pit at one time. Didn't know about putting one's finger over the other end.

      DebbieB124 (author)2016-07-19

      This also works to make a tiny green house for starting plants!

      camscam (author)2016-07-18

      I thought I was the only one who picked my teeth with a straw after a meal!

      thundrepance (author)2016-07-18

      these are fun & fantastic ideas! :^D .... thanx for sharing, mike!!

      Cathschoe (author)2016-07-17

      These are great ideas. You can also use them to close packets or plastic bags.

      Just roll the packet end around one straw.

      Cut another straw lengthwise and slide it over both packet and straw. Sealed!

      Picture from lifehacker.com

      thundrepance (author)Cathschoe2016-07-18

      that is great!

      TillyS1 (author)2016-07-17

      PLEASE...

      Don't forget to dispose of them responsibly, split them, and cut up in tiny pieces, so birds and other creatures don't feed them to their babies, etc.! Even Sea Turtles have suffocated because of a straw being stuck in their windpipe!

      JohnD316 (author)TillyS12016-07-17

      This is a wonderful safety tip and should be extended to all things made from thin plastics. Lots of scavenger birds die from being injured from ingesting even the small pieces that you suggest. Recycling through proper channels is the best way to rid ourselves of these hazzards.

      OneBirdieMa (author)JohnD3162016-07-18

      There's another instructable about melting down plastic and forming it into -- other things . . .

      ThomasCelu (author)2016-07-17

      You can use a bendy straw in a caulking tube to get into tight spaces, or if you need to extend the range of your caulking gun you can use the non-flexible portion of the straw (not shown)

      Sorry about the bad photos, I only had one hand to do it so it was a bit shaky.

      EzraS4 (author)ThomasCelu2016-07-18

      I think your idea is the best one here!

      jnet57uk (author)ThomasCelu2016-07-17

      clever ?

      Great idea!

      CindyLemire (author)2016-07-18

      I recently needed to deep clean my sewing machine. The little buttons that change the stitches needed to be cleaned from lint but it was very hard to get in there and get all the lint out. These buttons control various stitches and they stopped working so that I couldn't even get the zigzag. So I got my vacuum cleaner and got the attachment that goes into narrow places and I got a small straw from my stash and taped it into this slot making sure that everything was taped tightly. I was able to vacuum between all the buttons using the straw and getting out a lot of lint that had collected in there. My machine works wonderfully and does all the zigs and zags I wanted to do.

      VAMSI KRISHNAC made it! (author)2016-07-18

      done a single theo jansen leg with straws and pins

      IlanE1 (author)2016-07-18

      "remember to not cut more tone holes than you have fingers to cover" - that's great turn of phrase

      waddoyouwant (author)2016-07-18

      I remember using plastic straws as axle bushings in a pinewood derby car I made when I was a lot younger. Made them roll a lot smoother.

      buffle (author)2016-07-17

      Visit my friend couple weeks ago and saw this automatic plant feeder.

      michael_click (author)2016-07-17

      Another painting use is a cheap and disposable airbrush. Simply take a standard drinking straw and cut partway through at about 1/4 of the way from one end. Bend the straw at a 90 degree angle. Insert the long end of the straw into a bottle of the paint you want to spray and blow through the short end of the straw. Obviously, thin, runny paints are to be used. Yo do have to blow fairly hard to get a good spray. Otherwise, it just splatters. You'll have to experiment to see what results you can achieve. You won't repaint your car using this technique, but it works for small projects!

      CorisaF (author)michael_click2016-07-17

      I would like a visual on that. Sounds good but I'm a bit confused

      JGDean (author)2016-07-17

      By dipping a straw in a liquid and covering the other end with your finger, you can make an emergency eyedropper. Removing your finger from the end releases the liquid.

      They can make very good guide tubes for launching a model rocket. The straw, glued to the side of the rocket, fits over the launch guide rod.

      The right sized straw makes a great "pea-shooter" for the plastic BB's used in airsoft guns. Just be sure to pick them up afterwards.

      SuzanneB21 (author)2016-07-17

      Artist :Paint Brush Protectors.

      Find a straw the size of your paintbrush and carefully slide over shaped paintbrush. Helps keep them from getting messed up,also you can cut to desired length.

      charlesp4 (author)2016-07-17

      It also can be used as wire organizer. Use a scissor to cut it in spiral, you can use it to wrap around 2 or more small wires together, for example, computer wires.

      NancyW46 (author)2016-07-17

      Use straws to take the core out strawberries.

      dianad1 (author)2016-07-17

      What creative and excellent ideas! I'm quite impressed. I love the cord marker idea. I think the only one I can't see myself trying is the flute, and that's only because of poor musical aptitude on my part. Very clever.

      JRDUKIE (author)2016-07-17

      Cool!

      rafaelnfs (author)2016-07-17

      great instructable :D

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