Monday, August 20, 2012

DIY Stainless Steel Drinking Straws

A few years ago I learned of the existence of reusable glass drinking straws. For a minute I thought we just had to have them. We aren't even big straw users, but they were beautiful and I thought they'd be fun for our kids. After all, how can you make milk bubbles without straws? I can't abide anything disposable, so I thought these beautiful and simple glass ones would be perfect for our family.

Fortunately, I have a crafty partner who always helps me find a way around buying things. When I showed him the straws online, which would have cost almost $30 for a simple set of four, he scoffed and said he could easily make some. The one drawback is that they wouldn't be glass, but I could deal with that.

stainless steel straws
 
He simply bought a piece of stainless steel tubing, and then cut it to about 6" lengths. The first cut was made with a pipe cutter, which makes a clean cut, but the blade was pretty much used up on that one straw. For the next three straws he used a hacksaw, and then sanded the edges smooth. He says if he were to make them again, he would use a circular saw, which would be a little easier.

My kids now use them every day for green smoothies, and occasionally for milk bubbles, and we don't create any plastic garbage. Nor do we ever have to buy straws again. 

stainless steel straw

If you use a dishwasher, you can just toss them in, but we do pretty much everything manually around here ;) I'd like to get a brush cleaner that could fit inside the straws, but for now Nik attached a small piece of rag to a length of sturdy wire, for a DIY straw cleaner. However, I find that if I just rinse them right away they clean up fine without the rag-on-a-wire setup.

One major difference between these and disposable straws that you will notice is the weight. You won't want to use them in a delicate wine glass, for example. The six inch straws are perfect for our 3 or 4 inch tall glasses, but if you use pint glasses you would want to make them longer. 

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58 comments

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Tracy
August 21, 2012 at 12:19 AM

What a great idea. Where would one purchase stainless steel tubing? I love that you can make them different lengths too. Thanks.

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August 21, 2012 at 6:17 AM

I love this idea and I know my husband could easily make them, too. I'm also enjoying your entire blog and have added you to my sidebar, under "REAL FOOD BLOGS". Thanks for your inspiring ideas!

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August 21, 2012 at 7:29 AM

He got ours near the shipyard in Seattle, but I just did a google search for "stainless steel tubing" and got lots of results. It looks like you can order it online, or buy from local retailers.

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Anonymous
August 22, 2012 at 1:55 AM

Cool Thanks for the tips. I love bubble tea and I found some wide stainless steel straws on ebay

http://stores.ebay.com/malabarhillz

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August 22, 2012 at 2:58 PM

Awesome tips!! Glad to meet you this is a great blog and my first time here! Happy to have found you and cant wait to see what other awesome things your come up with to post!
Best,
Ash
xox
http://abpetite.blogspot.com/

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August 23, 2012 at 9:07 AM

Look in the baby section - they make tiny brush cleaners for Dr. Brown's bottles - you can buy a set of 5 and they are inexpensive. I saved ours after the boys were weaned and we still use them to clean things like sippy straws.

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August 23, 2012 at 7:08 PM

Good idea! Does the stainless steel affect the taste? And does it need to be food grade stainless steel or am I over thinking this?

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August 23, 2012 at 10:11 PM

Well, I honestly didn't consider the grade of stainless steel when we made these. My kids have very sensitive tastebuds (I'm sure all kids do, until they get wrecked with old age) and they always use the straws when they can. I'm pretty sure there's no metallic flavor or anything with the stainless steel. I think the grades of stainless steel only really matters if you're using it for a fermentation vessel, or for long term storage, when you wouldn't want the metal oxidizing from acidic foods.

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August 24, 2012 at 6:21 PM

Like you, I don't like using plastic straws and yours looks like a good alternative.
Visiting via Rural Thursday Blog Hop.

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August 25, 2012 at 5:23 AM

Well, that's just too cool. Love those partners that have an inventive mind and are able to make it a reality. :)

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August 27, 2012 at 9:23 AM

very cool! Will have to do this. Glass straws just does not sit well with me. Breakage is uncool and in our part of the "Seattle metro" area we cannot recycle that kind of glass if it does break. I'm also thinking copper tubing would be a fun alternative.

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August 27, 2012 at 10:23 AM

Oh I love this idea! I love straws but get tired of always having to use plastic and throw them away... this is brilliant! Thank you for sharing!

http://justdawnelle.blogspot.com
Dawnelle

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August 27, 2012 at 12:34 PM

As much as I love copper, I think it would have a metallic taste. The glass straws are supposed to be "unbreakable" but Nik was suspicious of that as well. I think stainless steel is the best option, although some edible flower stalks, I have heard, make great straws as well!

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August 27, 2012 at 12:52 PM

I'm stopping over from Freaky Friday. I love that idea. I've been eyeing some of those glass straws, too, but haven't wanted to pay that much for them. What a great idea!

I recently launched a new real food blog carnival called Fill Those Jars Friday. I'd love to have you come stop by and share this on it: http://toomanyjarsinmykitchen.com/2012/08/23/fill-those-jars-friday-august-24-2012/

See you there!
Mindy

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August 27, 2012 at 5:38 PM

Brilliant, absolutely brilliant! I am featuring your post on my H&S Hop highlights.

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August 27, 2012 at 6:59 PM

Thanks, I'll have to check it out!

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August 27, 2012 at 11:46 PM

Pretty Nice. I would cut them with a tubing cutter. Just the plumber in me!

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August 28, 2012 at 9:05 AM

Hi there! I'm visiting from Eat Make Grow :) I use pipe cleaners to clean out my straws. I know, right?! They were literally made for cleaning out little tubes, but these days most of us only think of pipe cleaners in terms of arts and crafts. But they work great.

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August 28, 2012 at 10:13 AM

Pipe cleaners! The very same ones we use for kids' crafts? That's a great idea, thanks!

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August 28, 2012 at 10:14 AM

Rob, no doubt that would be easier than a hacksaw. Is a tubing cutter different than a pipe cutter? Nik used a pipe cutter on the first one but it ate up the blade.

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August 28, 2012 at 4:49 PM

You nned to use a stsinless steel tubing cutter or use a stainless steel cutting wheel in your tubing cutter
http://www.ohiopowertool.com/P-1439-ridgid-14-1-38-stainless-steel-35s-tubing-cutter-29963.aspx?CAWELAID=435423342&cagpspn=pla&gclid=CNWQ9c7Ai7ICFShxQgody3MAVw

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August 29, 2012 at 12:28 PM

Hi Emily,
This is a really great idea. I never thought of stainless steel straws. Thank you so much for sharing with Wednesdays Adorned From Above Link Party last week. This weeks Link Party is opened at http://www.adornedfromabove.com/2012/08/free-bee-sweet-hat-pattern-crocheted.html
Hope to see you there.
Debi Bolocofsky
Adorned From Above
www.adornedfromabove.com

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August 31, 2012 at 2:10 PM

I saw some straws like this at a local store a bit back and thought that would be cool, but cringed at the price....love that I could make them myself :o)

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August 31, 2012 at 2:47 PM

How much were they charging for them?

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September 6, 2012 at 10:58 PM

Hi Mellow,
You and your hubby are awesome DIYers. I love the straws.

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September 30, 2012 at 1:53 PM

I believe some grades of stainless steel are okay to use even if they aren't food grade, but some are not safe. Some types of stainless steel called ferritic stainless steel can contain lead, for example, and they are less able to resist corrosion, so I imagine that could be a safety issue.

There are also grades that contain higher levels of molybdenum. I know you can get molybdenum toxicity, but I don't know if the molybdenum can leach out of the stainless steel or not, to be honest.

I'm still hoping to find out more information about what grades of stainless steel are safe, even if they aren't food grade, but I'm still pretty early on in my researching. :-)

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December 5, 2012 at 11:38 AM

You really have to be creative so that you can come up with better and brighter ideas. It’s great to know that your kids love to use this stainless steel straw. Aside from that, you also help the environment by not adding to the already rising plastic waste. ;) Nice one!

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December 10, 2012 at 8:03 AM

Hello, Mellow! :D We also use stainless steel straws in our home. I love it when our visitors are amazed every time we offer them drinks with our stainless steel straw. Haha! They even said that it was cool, which is true, right? ;)

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December 10, 2012 at 11:53 AM

They are definitely cool ;)

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January 8, 2013 at 10:15 AM

I love this idea! And I don't know if anyone has already mentioned this, but pipe cleaners work great for cleaning straws! I clean and re-use my pipe cleaners until they look like they've been through a war.

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January 8, 2013 at 1:30 PM

Thanks Alison! Do you use crafting pipe cleaners? I thought of doing that, but my partner said they wouldn't really work because they're not real pipe cleaners, they're too soft or something. Anyway, we did finally get a real bristle cleaner that fits right inside the straws. It's nice knowing that they're really getting clean, and basically effortless!

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Anonymous
January 8, 2013 at 4:14 PM

How about wire pipe cleaners? You can get them in the craft section of the dollar store.

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January 8, 2013 at 4:17 PM

As a Christmas present, we received a perfect bristly cleaning brush that fits inside the straws. I don't think craft pipe cleaners are burly enough to really scrub inside the straws, but they might work! I also think they would rust if left wet at all, making reuse tricky.

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May 23, 2013 at 1:52 PM

I would *LOVE* to have a few long stainless straws!

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May 29, 2013 at 8:11 AM

Yup - gotta do this! Oh dearest hubby of mine............
These would make great gifts for the grandchildren! Thanks so much for the idea! Vickie

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June 2, 2013 at 7:31 PM

Those are beautiful!! Especially against rose petal ice cubes :) What kind of blade would he attach to a circular saw and would it have to be a carpenter's quality saw? I have a middle-of-the road one and would love to try this. Also, where did he get the tubing? Thanks M!

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June 5, 2013 at 9:48 PM

Harbor freight has $8 pneumatic, or $20 electric, rotating metal cutoff tools. He used something different back when he made these, but recently bought the electric cutoff tool and it would work way better. Plus it makes awesome sparks! http://www.harborfreight.com/power-tools.html?CatPath=All%2BProducts%252F%252F%252F%252FPower%2BTools%252F%252F%252F%252FAttribSelect%253DPrice%2BRange%253D%2527%252410%2B-%2B%252430%2527%2F%2F%2F%2FCut-off+Saws&RequestData=CA_CategoryExpand
The rods he cut into straws were from onlinemetals.com

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June 6, 2013 at 1:45 PM

Great idea to cut down on garbage, plus you know you will always have straws!

Thanks for linking up to The Creative HomeAcre Blog Hop! : )

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July 16, 2013 at 8:15 AM

I have been looking at glass and ss straws. Thanks for DIY tips and thanks for sharing with us at Eco-Kids Tuesday! I featured your post today! http://likemamalikedaughter.blogspot.com/2013/07/eco-kids-tuesday.html

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July 25, 2013 at 1:49 AM

I will must love stainless straws!your link is so great and popular.That is so awesome, i just love and follow it.Thanks for the share nice link.

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July 26, 2013 at 8:21 AM

This was cool! We shared with our FB readers at homesteadlady.com.

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Anonymous
July 31, 2013 at 11:07 AM

Does it matter whether its welded tubing or seamless tubing? The welded 304 tubing is cheaper than the seamless.

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August 1, 2013 at 9:45 PM

I think seamless will give a nicer finished product! That might be the only difference. Also, you might want to look into what metals they use for welding the seams. I think for something we use against our lips, a perfectly round tube is just nicer. But it's up to you if the price difference is worth it!

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November 29, 2013 at 9:46 PM

I love to cook, but it is also important to me that the meals I serve my family are both nutritious and healthy. I have always been comfortable using stainless steel saucepans but when it came to frying something on the stove, I would often resort to nonstick. Now that I've started using stainless steel cookware more extensively, I wonder why I didn't make the transition earlier.

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November 30, 2013 at 10:40 PM

I really like cast iron for frying pans (and even for baking!) They have a non-stick finish as long as they're cared for properly (gently washed without soap).

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September 8, 2014 at 7:30 PM

Cool! Stainless steel straws does not only help your kids to sip pearls easily but I agree that this is one of the most helpful way to lessen plastic wastes like plastic straws! I love this! Thanks for sharing! By the way, I'm into sheet metal fabrication if you need some!

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November 18, 2014 at 4:56 PM

Nice information anyway did you know any company that provides pipe fittings

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