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.

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Step 1: 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.

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

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

Step 4: 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!

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

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!

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

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.


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    72 Discussions


    4 years ago

    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.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    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

    1 reply

    9 years ago on Step 7

    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!!!!!!!!!


    9 years ago on Introduction

    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?

    4 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

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


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    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...

    8 replies

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    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!

    brandon borickUshanka

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

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


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

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