Don't you love going on vacation and reaching in your bag to pull out your hairbrush only to find that you are now the proud owner of an over sized, pre-pasted toothbrush? Not to mention the clothes that are now soaked in shampoo. How about those hikes when you reach in your bag to pull out your awesome sandwich you've made for lunch only to find it slathered in first aid ointment...even when the ointment and sandwich were in two separate ziplock sealed baggies. That's always a happy discovery. Blech.
Sarah was thinking ahead and decided to prepare for their travel adventure and set out to fix the problem. She found a pin all about preparing one-time-use packs of ointment, toothpaste, or whatever.
The Original Pin
(I'll get to the source of this photo in a minute...it's part of the Pinstrosity, so keep reading).
The caption on the pin she found said this, "Use straws to bring small amounts of toothpaste or lotion with you on a trip. Cut and burn the edges to make tiny sealed containers for things you may not need a lot of."
Sarah thought this was genius and got working. She said, "This seemed like a really cool idea for travel! The instructions didn't specify how long to cut the straws, whether or not to hold the straw in the actual flame or not, or if you had to pinch the ends of the straw first. So I thought, "Hey, this seems easy enough, I bet I can figure it out!" I cut the straws about 2 inches long, and started to burn the ends together."
"I held the straw directly above the flame, but instead of the ends sealing together, they started to open! Basically what I ended up with was half melted, still open straws. I didn't even attempt to put any toothpaste inside, but I'm sure it would have been even more pinstrosity-er."
Not so helpful for not making messes.
But this had to have worked for someone, right? So I set out looking. The pin led to a blog with the same vague instructions that didn't help Sarah out so well. It was a post of various camping ideas this person had found, but they didn't include any sources to where they found the ideas or pulled the photos, so I turned to my good pal, Google Image Search. The first link it pulled up was perfect. How perfect? It was the original site that the photo originated from...and it even had the guy's watermark (which was missing from the photo pinned on Pinterest):
Finding the original post made all the difference with the instructions. Brian gives an excellent tutorial on how to successfully and correctly make these ointment packs. He suggests using clear straws, using pliers to pinch the ends together while you burn/melt the edges, and then cutting the straws as you fill them. For his excellent instructions, head over to Brian's Backpacking Blog.
So one of the morals of the story...if you re-blog someone's idea and/or photo...please give them credit. It helps acknowledge their work, it helps people find the original instructions (rather than the watered down or condensed versions), and it makes our job a lot easier when we're trying to track down how to actually do a certain project.
What great tricks do you use to keep things from becoming a mess during camping, hiking, or travel?