Even though the western world seems to be moving away from the proliferation of single-use plastic drinking straws, they are still in wide use and I’m sure that they can be found in most of our junk drawers. We normally would either recycle or dispose of these drinking implements once we are done with them, but there are other applications for these in our various survival kits.
This article is a list of survival uses for plastic drinking straws and all of these uses come down to turning the straw into a watertight container which is used to store survival items.
Related: Uncommon Survival Uses for Common Household Items
The first thing we need is plastic drinking straws which come in a variety of colors and sizes. I like to pick the largest diameter straws I can find because it is easier to ‘load’ them up with materials.
Other tools you’ll need to acquire are a pair of pliers, scissors, and a lighter.
Making the Straw Containers
What we are going to do here is melt the ends of the straws to form a sealed tube in which our survival items are stored. To do this follow these simple steps:
1. Pinch one end of the straw with a pair of needle-nose pliers. You’ll want a small amount of the pinched straw sticking out (approximately 1/16th to 1/8th of an inch).
2. Using the lighter, melt the pinched end of the straw that protrudes through the pliers.
3. Cut the straw to the desired length using whichever container that you want to house it in as a template.
4. Load your survival supplies into the straw.
5. Melt the open end just as you did in step one.
6. Test the water-tightness before loading it into your kit.
Types of Drinking Straw Kits
Your imagination is the only limit for what types of kits you can construct from the simple drinking straw. These are six such kits that I either use currently, or have used in the past.
I like to tuck a few of these into my binocular harness when hunting because they are a simple and very compact way of having some fire tinder at the ready.
All I do is take some cotton balls with a dab of Vaseline and compact them as tight as I can into a drinking straw container.
I get two cotton balls into a straw that fits into a mini-Altoids container. To use you can either cut the end off and pull the tinder out to use or you can light the entire straw fire kit ablaze.
You can also use these containers to store matches inside as well. These matches should be strike anywhere so you don’t need to also include a striker.
You’d be surprised how much fishing tackle you’ll be able to jam into a drinking straw. I built a little emergency fishing kit that has about thirty feet of 10-pound test fishing line, two hooks, a swivel, and five spit shot weights. This kit is not much but it will make a primitive fishing rig and can absolutely catch dinner.
With larger straws, you could build more comprehensive kits or you can use these drinking straw containers to store individual supplies of fishing gear.
If you like to use Altoids tins to make fishing kits then using these straws to store hooks, swivels, weights, line, etc to keep all your gear nice and organized inside the tin.
Try and find the largest straws possible for this use, believe me when I say, its a real pain to try and get spices funneled into a small diameter drinking straw. This is a good option for carrying spices because it removes the weight and bulk of traditional sized containers. Either color code or label the straws so you don’t end up with salt in your tea.
You can also make straws containers with honey, olive oil, ketchup, mustard, hot sauce, etc but you’ll have to take a lot more care in how you seal these containers since you are not only keeping water out but you’re trying to keep liquid in.
Storing medication is one use of these drinking straw containers that I am a big fan of. Instead of carrying a small pill bottle of medicines, I like to store them in drinking straw containers with each container being one dose of whichever medicine that is inside.
Since these packets are so small you can slip them into not only a first aid kit but any other survival kits as well. This is great for vitamins as well because you can store a day’s worth of vitamins in a straw which makes it easy to remember to take your vitamins.
Instead of carrying a full tube of antibiotic ointment or other creams, ointments, and gels, make your own single-use packages to save on space. A drinking straw container of Q-Tips is also useful, and you can pre-load them with antibiotic ointment as well. Visine or a saline solution is also handy to have on hand in case you need to flush out debris from an eye or a wound.
A needle or two and some thread is all you need to make a tiny sewing kit that you can stash damn near anywhere in your gear. Pre-thread the needle to make life a little bit easier when you need to repair clothing and gear in the field.
Here are a few additional items that I have not personally used these containers to store but would still be an effective use of these drinking straw containers.
- Water purification tablets
- Hand lotion
There are far more little drinking straw kits you can make, and these are only the six that I have used and found to be useful in my survival kits and preps. One of the most important aspects of micro survival kits like these is not to forget that you have them stashed away.
I can tell you from experience that it is easy to have a straw of tinder, medicine, or even a fishing kit tucked in the bottom of a possibles pouch or haversack and become oblivious to its existence when you need it.
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Thank you for this eye opening use for large drinking straws. As lightweight these loaded straws are, there is no reason to be caught unprepared for a short term emergency.
I really liked this article. The pictures left no questions of how to seal the ends of the straws. My favorite was storing the Vaseline soaked cotton balls, no mess at all. I can see that the items to store are almost limitless, limited only by size. You got my mind going. I’m thinking maybe even using different colored straws for different items. Also, I have a small funnel that I had gotten at a craft store where they sell the fine grade glitter. Thank you!
Some good thought there.
Nice article. I have been doing this for some time. BTW, I have found the straws from ‘Arby’s’ to have largest diameter of most fast food outlets.
BOBA-straws work well as they have HUGE diameters!
Just remember when it comes to some medications it’s a violation in some states to keep them in a container other than what was issued with the medication. Especially controlled medications that are prescribed to an individual.
Even if charges aren’t filed, it is good way to spend some time in discussions with law enforcement by the side of the road and may even get you a stay in the crossbars hotel meeting new friends. If it is Friday afternoon, that gives you lots of time to really get acquainted as your court appearance won’t be until Monday morning.
Very cool! Thanks for the ideas 💡. Some of these would be good just for business or personal trips, besides camping and survival. Great ideas!
You can do this with empty toothpaste tubes too. Just wash them out good and fill them with lots of things..like tomato paste, or shampoo…. peanut butter…mustard, catsup… you name it
ok how do you get the lids off (of ones that dont look like you can) and how would you fill that tiny hole?
Don’t forget that medicines lose their potency over time. If you do this, don’t forget to rotate stock.
If your father won’t let you play with matches or cigarette lighters, a hot iron, set on a moderately hot setting, say just below the cotton setting should seal the ends quite nicely.
Great idea. But you will ruin the iron with plastic residue. If like most you no longer iron anything, go for it.
Great idea. But you will ruin the iron with plastic residue. If like most you no longer iron anything, go for it. A heat gun will also work very well. I use mine to seal the ends of webbing and paracord.
You can use a Foodsaver on seal mode. I use it to seal many different packages.
We’re packing up for a week of off grid camping on the border. An American citizen within 60 miles of the border has no constitutional rights, they can detain you indefinitely w/o cause, tear apart your vehicle searching it for contraband w/o probable cause, strip search you and probe your various body cavities and seize all of your possessions while quoting the sections of the establishing legislation for Customs that say you don’t get a lawyer until you are taken into custody. The CBP enforcement agents wear black military uniforms, body armor, load bearing gear, sidearms, and its not unusual for one or two of them at the checkpoints to tote M4s. They aren’t even a little bit friendly and i consider it a nightmare such men even exist in my America, especially the Texas part of it, but if you are respectful and well mannered they will somewhat grudgingly return the favor and not hassle you. But if they were to find a vaseline soaked cotton ball sealed inside a soda straw? You’d end up squatting on the side of the road for half a day while they drive to Del Rio and back to bring in drug and explosive dogs to search your vehicle.
Just exactly the kind of storm troopers that our Founding Fathers had in mind when they set up the safeguards in the Bill of Rights. The British troops were infamous for that kind of treatment of the colonists which is why our Founding Fathers were so insistent on the so-called safeguards. Those acts of terrorism by the Brits were in significant part the cause for the rebellion against the Brits.
My wife had been a naturalized citizen of the United States for longer than the storm trooper had been alive but she was hassled by him not far from Bisbee in southern Arizona that has now become an artsy-fartsy art colony. I once considered taking a job there long, long ago. Glad I didn’t. I would really be a misfit in an artsy-fartsy art colony full of simpering leftist snowflakes.
I have lived in a few places, poor neighborhoods and out of the way small towns where housing was dirt cheap and the scenery good, places that attracted interesting people of different ages and ideas and talents and it would be great until it was discovered by what I call the consuming class and you call the artsy- fartsy liberal leftists and everything ends up torn down destroyed and polluted with all those faux five star dining establishments serving wild boar and sugar coated barf.
We’re happy out here with all our MAGA hat neighbors but I’ll be danged if it ain’t happening here now, our property value has doubled in the last couple of years and they are building 5000 new homes within 15 miles of us. Hoping the fake economy the Fed is propping up keeps going ’til we hit half a million, that’s enough for half a mountain and a stretch of valley with a live creek up in the Arkansas wilderness (just got to stay away from the Pine Bluff Arsenal).
Artsy fartsy me? Not artsy at least.
I have Winchester 67A single shot as part of my hminiurricane/survival kit. I use straws to store 5 rds of .22 minmag. 3 straws to a Cohiba Cigar tube, sealed with wax or duct tape. It cuts down on the noise when moving. The other suggestions are excellent. Portion control or any of the items minimizes waste.
Good article. I used to use the normal drinking straws, but they were just a little too small for me, so now I use giant milkshake straws. They’re just under a half inch in diameter at 0.43″ or 11mm, so you can really get a lot in them.
On the other end of the spectrum, I like the small coffee stir straws. In those I put potassium permanganate for extreme emergency water treatment. That stuff is not the best of course, but it’s so compact and has a forever shelf life and in that tiny straw I can pack enough PP to treat more water than I’ll ever need in an emergency, that it just makes sense for a kit like this….a build it and forget it kit.
Now take two of those Gerber breast milk bags and roll them around the coffee straw and you have a very compact extreme emergency water storage and treatment. Those bags hold around 25 ounces of water between them.
The other thing I put in these straws for a fishing kit, is bait. I love those Berkley Crappie Nibbles. If I’m down to breaking this open, I want bait too and not having to search for it, and maybe even a tiny lure or fly.
Anyway, that’s my two pennies worth. Keep up the great work.
Funny how some of us do not know the underhanded and should – be illegal activities of the extended arm of the law.
Great ideas and tips. Thanks for writing it up. A great way to store halazone (water treatment) tablets in a EDC kit. Air tight storage is critical for that.
Bill – I use coffee straws for sewing kits, inserting needle and wrapping thread on outside. Thanks for tip on wrapping with Gerber bottle liner
Never thought of sticking a sewing needle in the coffee straw. Even just a small piece over the end to protect the point and other things from the point.
I see people talking about melting the ends of the straw, but hot glue works well too. I hot glue a nylon cord loop in one end so you can carry them on a key chain.
On a key chain you can have a couple extreme emergency sections of straw. In those bigger straws, you can carry a trick B-day candle, and a couple matches and an 3/32″ firesteel, and it’s no longer than the candle and matches or you can cut them down shorter even. Since the diameter is a little bigger, things sit side by side and not on top of each other.
I like to keep them at about 2 to 3 inches long depending on what I put inside them.
In a 3 inch long section of a the bigger milkshake straws, I can get…I think it was around 30…maybe 35 feet of Kevlar cord that’s 200 pound test and 0.036″ diameter.
It’s this stuff here and I coil it up like in the picture and tie a nylon string loop through the loop in one end of the Kevlar cord and pull it through the straw and you can fit A LOT in a small area. I leave that nylon looped cord in the end so I can pull the Kevlar cord out of the straw. Then I stick a piece of tissue paper in the end of the straw as a plug and to hold the loop and then hot glue it in place and put it on my key chain. It comes out to just over 3 inches long I think.
These firesteels are VERY thin, so I lay them on a key to support them so they don’t snap in two, and then strike it with another key or striker if you carry one.
Keep in mind, these little straws…for “ME” are kinda just for fun, but also for an EXTREME EXTREME last ditch to survive kind of thing. I also like to hot glue them closed over melting the ends, because if I’m carrying them in my pocket, cause those ends can be sharp and poke and be a little annoying.
I’d LOVE to see photos!
Thought of another idea. Add salt and sugar in the correct proportions to make a rehydration solution.
Use some No Salt brand in there too for the potassium.
You might try clear shrink tubing you can get it in various sizes.
Michael,… the idea for the medicine-straws is good – and I’ve used it myself,… having a few Tylenol in my fishing tackle-box,…. HOWEVER,….. a Game Warden saw them once, and immediately jumped to the conclusion that I had ILLEGAL drugs on me, and since they were “independently wrapped for distribution’,…. I had some explaining to do to the local PD. I showed them were they were stamped “TYLENOL” on the individual tablets,….. and they believed me! I don’t want to repeat that again! But for a SHTF scenario, running drugs will be low on their priority-list I believe, as more heinous crimes will be committed by more profound criminals!
To fill straws the mini funnels will work well. Popular when preparing your own skin care products or filling mini bottles with essential oils. I purchased mine from The Container Store. I see. Amazon also sells 12 for $6.99.