Make Paper Straws

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About: Making is like Baking....the more you do it the better you get at it

Its very important we distance ourselves from plastics. They have become irreplaceable in so many sectors but plastic packaging and throw away cups and plates etc. are very harmful for the environment. Some forward thinking states and countries are already banning plastic straws. So what are the alternatives? I see there are stainless steel straws as a reusable option. Great! I must get my hands on some. Also there are more and more offers of paper straws but they are quite expensive for now. So here I will show you how I made these simple straws with very little, and easily accesible, equipment and materials.

Step 1: Materials and Equipment

Materials:

- Colored paper 80 gr/m2 (google translates this to Bond weight 21#)

- Parafin wax, or Bee's wax

- Pritt stick

Equipment:

- Pencil

- Steel ruler

- Craft knife

- 5 or 6 mm Dowel rod or similar

- Scissors

- 2 mm wire or similar. A wire coat hanger will do the trick

- Pliers

- Pot

- Tall jar or similar

- Tin foil

- Tweezers

Step 2: Cut Paper Strips

Just like you see here in the photos, I marked the sheets of paper along the top and bottom to cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) strips.

A good size batch production, I find, is 4 sheets giving you 32 straws but you can do as many as you wish.

Step 3: Glue, Roll and Trim

Check out all the photos here to fully understand this part of the process.

Apply the pritt stick along one long edge of the strip leaving about one inch glue free at one end. I lined up two strips side by side and applied the pritt stick glue to the two of them at the same time so as to have a narrow line of glue on each.

Starting at the corner opposite the glued side (see 2nd and 3rd photo) I positioned the rod at an angle and rolled the strip of paper firmly around it. Then removed the rod.

Using a scissors, I trimmed the straw to the desired length. I made them the right length to fit into my jar which you will see in the next few steps.

Step 4: Waterproof Coating

I knew these straws would need to be protected from getting soaked or you might not get to finish your drink! A few months ago I read Steven King's It and couldn't understand what the parafin oil did for Georgie's paper boat. Then I saw the movie and it clicked (great movie but the books better). So this helped me understand you need to wax paper straws to get them to work.

So my plan was to melt candle wax and dip the straws, completely covering them. I wanted to get this ible up on the site ASAP so I got some bog-standard candles from the supermarket but if I want to be environmentally friendly I should order bee's wax for future batches.

Maybe there is the right piece of equipment out there for this job but here is how I improvised this "Tall Tube Double Boiler" I'm sure you all can improvise too ;)

Using a tall jar suspended over hot water the wax should melt nicely. I have this peculiar vessel I decided to use because it is narrow and tall (its like a test tube) therefore it would need less wax to fill it. I improvised a wire support to keep it upright using soft 2mm wire thats easy to bend. I put the wax into the tube, added water to the pan below and covered it with tinfoil to help keep the heat in.

Step 5: Dipping the Straws

With the double boiler melting the wax, I set about preparing my work space. I put the paper straws on the lefthand side of the melting pot and lay a sheet of parchment paper on the right.

The wax needs to be fully melted before dipping. For my wax, I found a medium to high heat worked best. if the liquid wax is too cool the dipping process will coat the straws too thick. But like with a deep fat fryer the wax could combust if it is too hot. I'm not sure if thats true when using a double boiler but be careful out there boys and girls.

I used a tweezers to submerge the straws and extract them one at a time and laid them on the parchment paper to cool.

And one last thing I did but don't have photos to show you :( was to clean off the excess wax. I ran a sharp knife along the length of the cooled straws where the wax came to rest on the parchment paper.

Step 6: Enjoy Your Straws

There you go. I love how vibrant the colored paper shows up after being waxed. Very cheerful.

CHEERS!

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    23 Discussions

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    SusanS337

    2 months ago

    Your timing could not have been more perfect...I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and localities in the region are beginning to ban plastic straws in restaurants (unless requested by a customer--i.e. someone who is disabled and unable to drink from a cup). This would be a fun project with kids and a great way to teach about protecting the environment by reducing use of plastics.

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    RayP24SusanS337

    Reply 2 months ago

    Yes. Thanks for your very relative comment. It would be a great project for children!

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    mstaiko

    3 months ago

    Love it! Have you tried it in high temperatures? I mean if you are outside, say at the pool and it is hot, even though it is dipped in the cold beverage, can we be sure that we won't drink parafine too? I want to try it, I really do!

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    RayP24mstaiko

    Reply 3 months ago

    Hi thanks for your comment. I guess in really hot weather they might melt. Check out the properties before so you can decide for yourself.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paraffin_wax
    In our house there are those who like to drink their chicken noodle soup with a straw!!! So when we get back round to winter that will be the ultimate test. :D

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    mstaikoRayP24

    Reply 3 months ago

    I'll be waiting fimor a straw 2.0 version from you (winter edition)

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    RayP24mstaiko

    Reply 3 months ago

    Ah I was hoping you'd try it! And send me some pics of your adventure and press the "I Made It" button at the bottom. They really aren't hard to make. And there is no major investment. I try to keep all my instructables as short as possible so that they are accesible to most people.
    My 2.0 version will be bee's wax and possibly use some sort of home made glue. So if exposed to extreme chicken noodle soup temperatures and the wax melts it will not be toxic in any way.

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    mstaikoRayP24

    Reply 3 months ago

    Will keep you posted, so far I have Pritt glue and my parafin wax is what bothers me cause I used it for waxing after chalk paint. Not sure I can use it for a straw, that is what is holding me back. If i had beeswax I'd give it a go asap!

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    RayP24mstaiko

    Reply 3 months ago

    Also, if the straws were coated with bee's wax instead of parrafin they would be a much more environmentally friendly and any ingestion of the wax would be less harmful.

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    mstaikodrake2c

    Reply 3 months ago

    Same notice as before, what happens in high temperatures?

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    RayP24

    3 months ago

    Hello. Its me again
    I've noticed a lot of concern over using glue in the comments. There are lots of different glues of course and some are very toxic. But I stand by my choice to use Pritt Stick. Its solvent-free and PVC-free and a great instant glue for paper. Also, after the coating of wax is applied any excess glue gets covered and does nott come into contact with the drink.
    Thanks for your interest in this instructable!
    Stay cool.

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    Cat00x

    3 months ago

    Thanks so much for this instructable. I agree that we need to get away from plastic straws. I’m wondering how safe it is to suck through a straw that has been glued. The comment about using wax as glue might be worth experimenting with. I will definitely try this when I get a chance. Thanks!

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    RayP24Cat00x

    Reply 3 months ago

    If its a question of toxicity with using glue I'd go with the comment suggesting a corn starch glue instead. Unless you find the perfect wax for the job to be able to stick at the same time as coating the straw it might not work and there is also the problem with getting it off the rod. So keeping the glueing and the waxing as separate steps of the process means you can control everything better. Thanks.

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    bferron

    3 months ago

    back in the early 60's there were no plastic straws they were all made of paper.

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    RayP24bferron

    Reply 3 months ago

    My memory goes back to the early 80's and all we had then were plastic straws. I bet the change was lightning fast too. But to change back to paper will take more time and effort.

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    bferron

    3 months ago

    Why not glue them with wax? Apply the wax in the forming stage, step 3, instead of glue. It might take a special type of wax. I worked in Paste up for printing and we used a wax glue but that wax made the pasted things removable and you would need a harder wax than that so that the straw would be stiff. I don't know if paraffin would work as glue or not but if not there may be a type of wax that does. If you use the wax as glue then you don't have to dip them.

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    RayP24bferron

    Reply 3 months ago

    If you could find the right wax like you say sure that would be great. I first tried to make the straw without any glue. My thinking was that it might stick if i wet the paper and the adhesives in the pulp could stick it together again once dry. But it didn't work. :D

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    Steinzel

    3 months ago

    If you use a needle and thread you could hang them to cool. Then you wouldnt have to shave off the extra wax.

    Nice Instructable! Thanks!

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    RayP24Steinzel

    Reply 3 months ago

    Thank you. That sounds like a good idea. But really, the shaving off of the wax is effortless.