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
- Colored paper 80 gr/m2 (google translates this to Bond weight 21#)
- Parafin wax, or Bee's wax
- Pritt stick
- Steel ruler
- Craft knife
- 5 or 6 mm Dowel rod or similar
- 2 mm wire or similar. A wire coat hanger will do the trick
- Tall jar or similar
- Tin foil
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.