InstaCool Cup: DIY Insulated Plastic Cup




Introduction: InstaCool Cup: DIY Insulated Plastic Cup

About: At the Eureka! Factory, we love making things, and thinking about things, and learning about things, and enjoy helping empower others to a curiosity driven life, too, so we can all live and learn in meaningf...

For a while now, I've been watching one of our Eureka Factory partners walking around with drinks in doubled up plastic cups, separated by a folded up paper towel. When I inquired, he said it was his DIY insulated cup. If you follow our Instructables group, you may wonder why he wasn't using one of the dozens of drink cozies we found jammed in that drawer.

One, the cozies don't work well with the plastic cups we use and two, we've now repurposed most of our cozies for more important things like shoe inserts and mouse pads. Go figure.

At any rate, while I know the basics of insulation - that air pockets slow heat transfer - I wasn't convinced that the tiny wall with the paper towel air cells between two plastic cups, made any significant difference.

So I decided to test the theory out - and by golly, you were right, honey, it does make a difference!

Step 1: Materials

2 plastic cups

paper towel or napkins

Step 2: Create Paper Divider

Take a single sheet of regular paper towel, or two sections of the easy tear paper towels connected together.

Fold in half,

Then in half again, length-wise.

Step 3: Connect Your Cups

Wrap the folded paper towel around one cup and insert it snugly into a second cup.

That's it!

Step 4: The Test

To test the double insulating cup idea, I filled three sets of cups half way with similar sized pieces of ice: 1 single cup; 1 set of nested cups with nothing between them; and one set of nested cups with the paper towel divider between them. I put all three outside on the patio for an hour. It was about 85 degrees.

Step 5: The Results: Single Cup

An hour later, the single cup had a lot of condensation on it, and yielded two ounces of melted water.

Step 6: The Results: Double Cup, No Paper

The doubled cups weren't sweating quite as much and yielded just a little less than 2 ounces of water.

Step 7: The Winner! Double Cup With Paper

At the end of the hour, the two cups nested with the paper towel between them had hardly any condensation on the outside, and only about an ounce of water melted from the ice.

Step 8: Picnic Version

So while that's not a Mythbusters level science trial, it does suggest that the double walled cup with the paper towel divider works. But at your garden variety summer picnic you may not have a paper towel roll to pull from. Chances are, though, you'll have some paper napkins.

Just grab a couple of those, open them up, fold them lengthwise and insert between two plastic cups, and there you have it: an Instant DIY Insulated Cup!

Step 9: Pour and Enjoy!

The doubled cups with the paper insulator also slow the transfer of heat from your hand to your drink, so bottoms up! And when people marvel at how your drink still has ice after theirs has melted, tell them "It's Science!"




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    17 Discussions

    awesome 'ible, it's winter here in oz but this goes in the favorite list for summer!

    2 replies

    We in the northern hemisphere apologize for conducting our summer business at such an illogical time for our friends down under. LOL

    Great 'Ible! I used a foam cup in the inside and it made it even colder!

    1 reply

    Brilliant! If I ever find myself without my trusty double wall mason jar I'll know how to improvise.

    1 reply

    Clever. Well done.

    Great project, simple too. I should keep a set in my vehicle. I like the non-condensation very much too.

    Good 'ible. I just posted one that goes a little further and saw yours after I published mine (this one was a link on the right side since it was a similar project). Check it out:

    Grand idea, hope I remember for our summer gatherings

    Love this!! This is epic! You got my vote! ;D

    that was a brilliant idea. and was so helpful.. and gng to try it soon ,,, thx for sharing

    This also looks like a good idea to stop cheap plastic coffee cups
    burning when you hold them and should also have the added side effect of
    making the damn things a bit more rigid. Also, as you're not actually touching the rim of the second outer one, you could just use any pre-used cup.

    1 reply

    Good points! I really like the idea of using a used cup for the outer insulator. Extra reuse points on that one!

    Because it's a plastic cup 'ible. :-) Yes the plastic cups get reused and then recycled. Not everyone has insulated mugs especially at a picnic and this does the trick well and inexpensively. It's just another way to use something that's at hand.

    I hope you're reusing those plastic cups as often as possible. But why would everyone not have their own insulated mug?