Introduction: Pocket Full of Anything - EvenToothpaste!

Picture of Pocket Full of Anything - EvenToothpaste!

My work can get pretty ridiculous. Some nights I have to work all day, all night, and half the next day... 30 hours straight. It would be nice to be able to bring a suitcase full of stuff from home. But if it doesn't fit in my scrubs or coat, I might I well leave it at home, cuz I'll lose it before the end of a busy call, which just adds to the frustration of what is already a stressful situation.

The bare essentials are food and water. No problem. I have my ID card, and with it, I can buy stuff from the cafeteria during certain hours. Then there's the snack bar that's open 24/7. But for when I am too busy and too far away, I try to carry a supply of dimes for the snack machines. (Dollars are an iffy proposition, and dimes are lighter than quarters!) I also know where to steal graham crackers and sodas (in event of an emergency! :)).

But that leaves my personal hygiene. Towards the end of this ordeal, I can find myself feeling pretty rank. There are several places where I can find a hot shower and soap. But for toothpaste, toothbrush, and my essential LA Looks Megahold hair gel, I'm on my own. I have stretegically placed a bottle of said miracle gel in my call room... but that's wishful thinking. Often, I see this call room and it's comfy bed only twice... once when I get to work to drop off my things, and once before I leave to pick up my things. What I really need is something more pocket-sized. And here it is.

I will demonstrate on toothpaste, since I already have a packet of hair gel prepared.

Step 1: The How

Picture of The How

I usually use my homemade impulse sealer for doing such things. But since not everyone has their own impulse sealer, I'll show you how to do it with a temperature-controller soldering iron. Half the guys on here must have one of those, and if not - they should!
The soldering iron will be used to seal/cut the plastic bag. In this case, I'm using a 2 mil thickness piece of a ziplock style bag. (I already used the ziplock part of the bag for something else.)

Step 2: Soldering Iron Setting and Other Key Tips.

Picture of Soldering Iron Setting and Other Key Tips.

You really have to use a temp controller soldering iron for this job. A hotter iron can be useful for less messy things, but for toothpaste or hair gel, you want a good seal. This requires a lower temperature.


1. First heat up your iron really good and wipe away any solder.

2. Then set it to 190C or 370F. In case you are really paranoid, you might consider not using this method for things you put in your mouth! But considering the melting point of solder is ~ 220C, there shouldn't be any lead getting onto the bag. But you never know. :)

3. Work surface: This is very important. I had tried countless times to do this with very poor results in the past... which led to my DIY impulse sealer. But I finally figured out the trick. I was using a glass work surface for this, and that was the problem. The glass was conducting too much heat away from the bottom side of the bag, which led to inconsistent results. One defect in the seal will debunk the entire thing. I am using a piece of a clipboard as the work surface here.

4. get a str8 edge. I'm using a piece of scrap plexiglass in this case. It's not really very str8... anything that won't melt will do. This keeps the two layers of bag held together and also gives you a str8 line.

5. Move the tip of the iron across the bag at a constant rate. You'll quickly get a feel for the proper speed.

Step 3: Make a Tube

Picture of Make a Tube

Now I have a rectangular strip of ziplock bag, sealed on all four sides.

Step 4: Cut the Top - Err Actually the Bottom

Picture of Cut the Top - Err Actually the Bottom

So now you cut the top off your plastic sleeve. Actually, this will be the bottom, technically speaking.

Step 5: Fill 'er Up!

Picture of Fill 'er Up!

So now you can squeeze in some toothpaste.

Tip: You want to get as much air out of the bag as possible before you start to squeeze in the toothpaste. But don't worry if there's some air left, cuz you are actually filling the bottom of the sleeve. You'll cut the top off later, and let out the air!

Step 6: Almost Done

Picture of Almost Done

So now you have the toothpaste in. Squeeze it up a bit so you can seal off the bottom. Then you can cut the top of the sleeve off and let out any air. (Less air will leave more room for the toothpaste to move if the bag gets squished.)

Now seal the top end. If you wanna get all Mr. Fancy Pants about it, you can leave a good length of excess bag and then melt some lateral cuts to make an easy-tear tab - when torn, this will leave a small opening for optimal toothpaste-squeezing precision.

Step 7: Now Stick It in Your Kit!

Picture of Now Stick It in Your Kit!

OK, I really wish I had the obligatory Altoids tin for this shot. But, alas, I don't eat Altoids. :) So I just use another plastic bag.
This contains my toothpaste, my hair gel, and a travel toothbrush.

Hope you like it! If you do, don't forget to vote! (See the little button in the upper right that says "VOTE NOW?" You know you wanna press it. :) )If I win this contest, I'll feel justified for having just put off many more important things!

And don't miss out on the latest adventures of Simba, in "Kitten Eating a Strawberry Poptart."

Step 8: Various Uses

Picture of Various Uses

Obviously, you can use this method for various things. I decided to take a pic of some of my stored electronic components to provide some ideas. I used to have a dozen-odd "tackle box" organizers, but I have since thrown them all away in favor of plastic bags. They take up less space and don't accidentally spill.


clupoli (author)2015-04-30

Using a drinking straw, a pair of pliers, and a lighter to melt the seals on either end is far easier and sturdier than plastic bags... only drawback is that opening them can be a pain.

Eucherplayer (author)2009-12-10

A guy I knew in High School used the edge of a paperback book and a butane lighter. He cut the plastic bag and placed the part he wanted to keep into the bok leaving just the seam to be sealed exposed about 2MM.  Pretty quick and efficient.l

I just tried that with a block of wood. It works great, thanks.

lclippard (author)2011-01-06

i wonder if a low temp hot glue gun tip would work, sans glue sitck?

ducktape.mac (author)lclippard2011-10-29

That's what I was thinking...

Isurvival (author)2010-08-22

awesome, and easy to do-I don't want to spend a lot of money, on a "bag sealer", but I will try this method! thanks a lot!!!!!!!!!

sdtacoma (author)2009-11-22

I think I am missing something here. The Instructable says to, "Then set it to 190C or 370F". My soldering iron only gets up to 350 degrees which is plenty hot enough to melt the bag. I thought the idea was to use a temp that was cool enough to seal the bag, not melt it. So, I was expecting to have to turn the soldering iron down.

Am I missing something?

Colonel88 (author)sdtacoma2009-12-10

uhm, when you melt the bag you essentially SEAL it when it cools down.

klee27x (author)sdtacoma2009-11-22

Yeah, you're missing the difference between Celcius and Fahrenheit. A soldering iron that only goes to 350F would be pretty useless.

sdtacoma (author)klee27x2009-11-24

Thanks for the reply. I think the issue is how I am getting the soldering iron temperature. I was using a cooking thermometer which I don't think is the most accurate way to do it.

klee27x (author)sdtacoma2009-11-25

Ahh, yeah. That's definitely off. The lowest melting point solder available is the 63/37 eutectic stuff, with a melting pont around 360F.

And to seal the bag, it definitely has to melt. If done just right, you keep the point moving, and the bag melts and fuses as the tip moves along.

It's rather difficult to get a very good seal this way, compared to a heat sealer. You have to experiment with your temp and rate. And you have to make sure that the work surface isn't sinking heat away from the bag. Try doing it on a wood cutting board, an old book, or a stack of papers.

Ushanka (author)2008-03-16

This is really brilliant, and far less expensive than those tiny toothpaste tubes sold at pharmacies. I use tiny plastic zip bags for coins, but I often find other uses for them, like toting medicine or small samples of herbs/spices. I suppose your version is more waterproof (and cheaper), so it could be used for, say, contraband liquor. Not that I'm endorsing that or anything, but perhaps...

klee27x (author)Ushanka2008-03-16

Liquor? Maybe. I would use a thicker bag for that, though. Maybe 3 or 4 mil. This might also be a good application for carrying around fine white powders!?! Such as this: Easy! It's laundry detergent, guys!

you should seal a razor blade and a little bit of straw in those bags and place them on random people's doorsteps! lol

CybergothiChe (author)klee27x2009-07-11

lol..."laundry detergent..."

Hellchild (author)klee27x2008-07-19


Yerboogieman (author)klee27x2008-05-11

the dry stuff will cake to your septic tank and you'll have to get it pumped

brandon borick (author)Ushanka2009-04-06

herbs yes hers it oregeno yes its oregeno cops it is i swear pleas dot give me a ticket sorry couldent help my self

Ushanka (author)Ushanka2008-03-16

Also, it sounds like you made your own impulse sealer. Will we get to see that in an instructable too?

technodude92 (author)klee27x2008-03-20

Do you mind if i ask, what happened to your hand?

klee27x (author)technodude922008-06-22

A car pulled across the street in front of me when I was doin' 50 mph on my motorcycle. His front fender stopped my bike. I skidded down the street about 50 feet. He took off and wasn't caught. *shrug*

Ushanka (author)klee27x2008-03-17

That looks like something I could do! Is that nichrome wire you're using to seal the plastic?

klee27x (author)Ushanka2008-03-17

Yep. That's 26AWG. The parts are made of plexiglass, which I found isn't quite up to this task. I had to resurface the blade, once, after about a couple hundred seals. If I get to the point where I need to service it, again, I'll replace the blade with lexan.

LuciferRex (author)2009-09-25

This is soooo awesome!

friney23 (author)2009-07-23

Would the melted plastic release toxic chemicals into the stuff you put into it (e.g. something you put into your mouth such as food)?

klee27x (author)friney232009-08-02

If it's polyethylene or polypropylene, there's no reason to think the plastic would be any worse for your health than the commercial food sealers. Those types of plastic are about the safest you can get. The tip of your soldering iron might be a different story.

codongolev (author)klee27x2009-08-22

mm, flux and lead. delicious. and deadly! but then again, I live on the edge.

dodo91 (author)2009-02-25

" I've got a pocket yeah a pocket full of sunshine"

Treksie (author)2009-02-17

Being a bit persnickety myself, I love that you got all "fancy-pants" about it. Thanks for sharing this great idea!

munchman (author)2008-10-26

This is awesome. I would have never thought of using a soldering iron to make bags. Now I can finally complete my project.

ARTYFISHALL (author)2008-05-07

It seems like a lot of trouble to go to. What's wrong with just taking the tube of toothpaste?

matt_sawyers (author)ARTYFISHALL2008-09-09

I hate packing in the whole tube when there is just a small amount left. Or if you are worried about weight (every little bit helps when flying lol)

matt_sawyers (author)2008-09-09

holy cow, I don't know why *I* didn't think of this lol
I used to have one of those "Press & Seal" sealers, this would have been a lot easier and cheaper. Thanks for the idea!

randomhat (author)2008-06-19

If your going to go this route, you might want to check the pharmacy or the dreaded walmarts toothbrush isle. There's this type of convience toothbrush that has the toothpaste on the inside of the handle and you turn a dial to squeze it into the brushhead.

frag_bomb (author)2008-04-29

all the drug dealers will love this

mooshisho (author)2008-04-29

Awwwwesome. :) I'll use this to make little hot sauce packets (Sriracha!)for lunch. :P

Charles IV (author)2008-03-26

I tried doing this a while ago without the straightedge and well, it didn't work so now I know what I did wrong.

Gnome (author)2008-03-17

Hey, carrying dimes or quarters weighs exactly the same. Dime: 2.268 g Quarter: 5.670 g.
(2.268*2) + (2.268/2) = 4.536 + 1.134 = 5.67 g.

Awesome Instructable!

waterppk (author)Gnome2008-03-23

I'm consistently amazed at the things people are investigating. Next we'll be presenting the mathematical function on how to best carry change, making you able to produce any dollar amount with the minimal weight, while ALSO maintaining the ability to purchase at least 3 mountain dews and a thing of twinkies

mightywombat (author)waterppk2008-03-25

Ahem. I read somewhere that the most efficient way to carry the most change is as follows: Three quarters Two nickels One dime Four pennies If you're only interested in carrying enough change to make up balances of less than $0.50, then you could lose two of the quarters. I generally keep this $0.99 in my pocket, and it saves my pocket from filling up with nickels. Ask and ye shall receive.

Knock and it shall be opened unto you.

klee27x (author)Gnome2008-03-17

I don't believe it. I mean, I see the numbers, but I still don't believe it! I am seriously gonna have to sort some change and break out my postal scale!

hollasch (author)klee27x2008-03-17


Da_Fudge (author)2008-03-20

you got my vote!

Roxner (author)2008-03-20

accually thats really a great idea.. even though i wont have toothpaste in it if i would make one but its a great idea!

santy22 (author)2008-03-19

man it is so sweet! i want one of those for teeth bruhing in my school and dont look like the weirld guy thar has a tube of tpaste on the bag!

DavidRobertson (author)2008-03-19

An instructable on your impulse sealer ould be great.

klee27x (author)DavidRobertson2008-03-19

Yeah, I want to do it properly, though. One day, I'll build an new one from scratch and take pics throughout the process.

DavidRobertson (author)2008-03-19


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