Introduction: Slowflow Watering Decanter

This improvised watering decanter is perfect for watering small plants that don't need a lot of water but do need it regularly. It's simple and is made of dirt-cheap items that most people probably already have around their house and tools that most people already own. It's small so it can easily be stored at your desk where you work or in a small space out of sight at home. it's also fairly safe and doesn't spill much if it falls over while full - though it will spill a little.

I originally put this together because I needed a bottle with a narrow spout which would make it easier to get the water into the narrow gap at the end of seedling trays. Since I'm starting them early I have to keep them inside which for me is in front of my big bay window in my nice carpeted living room where there's plenty of light. I like to water them from the bottom which means pouring about a pint of water through a half-inch gap at the end of the tray and hoping I don't spill any.

This introduces two issues which I solved using this decanter: accuracy and quantity. Since the bottle is clear and already close to the right quantity for one tray it makes it easy to measure the amount of water I'm adding to each tray. Granted this creates extra work since I'm constantly shuffling back and forth to the kitchen for more water. Perhaps this calls for a large watering container: maybe something along the lines of a two-liter Coke bottle.

Secondly, this is much easier than just pouring the water on my plants at work. I have more than a dozen plants at my desk, some of which dry out before others. Most of the plants are large pots that only need water once a week and the whole batch can be taken care of in two or three trips to the restroom sink.

I also have several small cacti which dry out completely on an almost daily basis. Instead of running them to the restroom sink every day it's nice to have a watering bottle at my desk. Plus they are crowded together on a tray and the long spigot makes it easy to get to all of them without spilling any water. Finally, and most importantly, the water flows slowly which keeps me from overflowing the pots and making a big mess.

The real reason I made this is that, in true Instructables spirit, I had some spare time, love putting things together, was thrilled at how well all the parts integrated, and hoped somebody else might get some use out of the thing. Remember, this is my first instructable. Granted it's not a Traditional Polynesian Ice Canoe - I wish I had some ice nearby so i could try that - but it was fun to do.

Now...without further adieu...

Step 1: Gather Materials

The following materials will be needed for this instructable.
  • A beverage bottle of your choice. I had lots of water bottles on hand so I used one of those.
  • Two flexible drinking straws. If you want faster water flow then you can get larger diameter straws such as those you get at restaurants. The only problem with those is that you loose the flexible joints which server to help secure the straw to the bottle in this case and also let you flex the spigot straw for easier watering.

Step 2: Gather Materials: Tools

In addition to the materials for the decanter some tools will be required.
  • A drill
  • An appropriately sized drill bit should be a tiny bit smaller than the diameter of your straw.
  • Scissors
  • Waterproof glue for sealant. I used low-temp hot glue because it was what I had on hand. If you use hot-glue it is important that it be low-temp as the high-temp glue will melt the straw.

Step 3: Empty Your Bottle.

Set your camera on timed, fuzzy mode; strike your best Gatorade-Commercial pose and start chuggin. Here we see that my Gatorade-Commercial pose isn't very good but my chuggability more than makes up for it.

Step 4: Check Drill Bit Size

First you should insert the drill bit into the long end of the straw to size it. If it just barely fits then it's perfect. If it has to be forced in or slides in easily then it's too large and too small respectively. If you don't have the proper size then it's best to get a smaller size and ream the hole out larger by swiveling the drill around in the hole.

Step 5: Drill Holes in the Lid

Most soft drink bottle lids have a ridge around the inside. This ridge forms a seal with the lip of the bottle as the lid is screwed on. Other manufacturers use a soft disk or rubbery coating to form a seal in the top of the bottle.

When drilling the holes in the lid make sure to leave about 3/16 of an inch between the edge of the lid and the edge of the holes. This will help avoid damaging whatever seal mechanism was used by your bottle's manufacturer. It will also ensure that the holes are unobstructed by the lip of the bottle when the lid is screwed on.

Please be cautious when drilling if you plan to hold the lid whilest drilling.

Step 6: Prepare Straws

The straws must be cut to prepare them for use.

The first straw - the yellow one in the first picture - will be used as the spigot for the decanter. Cut the long end of the straw off leaving all the joints attached to the short end. Discard the long end.

The second straw - green in the first picture below - will be used as an air return spout. Cut the long end and all but four of the joints off. The remaining four joints should be attached to the short end of the straw. Discard the long end and extra joints.

Next, the end of each straw opposite from the joints will need to be split to make it easier to insert into the holes in the bottle lid. The split only needs to be about 1/4 inch long. The second picture below illustrates me splitting the end of the air return straw.

Step 7: Insert Straws Into Lid

The straws have to be attached correctly for the decanter effect to work.

The air return straw - the straw with only four joints remaining - should be attached so it protrudes inside the lid. Pull the straw through from the outside until two joints are inside the lid and two are outside. Collapse the inner joints and the outer joints - as seen in the pictures - to help secure the air return straw.

The spigot straw - the one with all the joints still attached - should be inserted so that it protrudes outside the lid. All but two of the joints should be pulled through to the outside of the lid. The two joints remaining on the inside as well as two of the outer joints should be collapsed to help secure the straw. The two pictures provided illustrate this.

Make sure that the spigot straw is protruding from the outside of the lid and that all but two of the joints are outside as well. This will allow you to flex the straw during use if needed.

Step 8: Seal the Straws

It will be necessary to seal the gap - little as it is - around the straws. I used hot-glue because it was the only water-proof fast-drying glue I had on hand and I didn't want to go shopping for the aforementioned reasons. I also tried chapstick as a sealant on the first one I made and It worked quite well but prevented me from using the decanter for warm water. Be cautious when picking glues as those with strong solvents may warp or dissolve the straws or lid or both. It's only necessary to seal the straws on the outside which is good because it is difficult to do on the inside.

Step 9: Voila...Your Done.

Happy decanting.