How to Make a Paper Straw
Paper straws come in all sorts of colors and are a great way to add a unique touch to any event. They can get expensive, however, and sometimes you just can't find the exact color or pattern that you need. Fortunately, it's possible to make paper straws at home. All you need to get started are dowels, scrapbooking paper, some glue, and paraffin wax.
Cutting and Rolling the Straws
Cut patterned scrapbooking paper into in (3.8 cm) wide strips.Find some 12 by 12 in (30 by 30 cm) scrapbooking paper in a pattern that you like, then use a paper slicer or paper guillotine to cut it into in (3.8 cm) wide strips. How many strips you cut is up to you. Each strip will make 1 straw.
- Don't use scrapbooking cardstock; it's too stiff and heavy to hold curls, which is vital to making straws.You can also use printer paper for plain white straws.
- Look for standard, patterned scrapbooking paper. It's a medium-weight, 60 to 65 lb (27 to 29 kg) paper.
Apply glue to the back of a strip, inch (0.64 cm) from a long edge.Flip a strip over so that the back is visible. Next, draw a line of liquid glue along 1 of the long edges. Rather than having the glue touch the edge, however, apply it inch (0.64 cm)fromthe edge. The glue should still touch the narrow edges of the strip, however.
- In most cases, the back of the paper will be white. If you're using double-sided paper, work on the side that youdon'twant to be visible.
- Any type of liquid glue will work as long as it says “non-toxic” on the bottle. Make sure that you make the line as thin as possible.
Set a in (0.64 cm) thick dowel at a 45-degree angle at 1 end of the strip.One end of the dowel should be sticking out just part the corner that has the glue on it. The rest of the dowel should be facing the un-glued edge of the paper.
- Choose a dowel that is about 12 to 14 inches (30 to 36 cm) long. This will be much easier to work with than a 1 yd (0.91 m) long dowel.
- If you can't find a dowel that short, cut a longer one down with a hand saw or heavy-duty gardening shears.
Roll the paper around the dowel, overlapping it with each wrap.Make sure that you overlap the paper enough so that the glued edge touches paper—not wood. A little over inch (0.64 cm) would be good. This is sort of like making a candy cane, except that you aren't leaving any gaps between the "stripes."
- Keep the paper snug so that it holds its shape, but don't roll it too tightly, or it will be difficult to remove.
- If the end of the paper doesn't stay down, secure it with a drop of glue.
Slide the paper off the dowel and allow it to dry overnight.The paper should stick together on its own, even after you slide it off the dowel. If you're worried about it coming unrolled, however, wrap painter's tape around each end before you pull the paper off.
- Painter's tape is a great choice because it's easy to remove and doesn't leave residue.
- Once you have removed the first straw, you can use the dowel to create more.
Trim the ends of the straws to make them flat.Because of how you rolled the paper, the ends of the straws will be pointy. This won't be very comfortable or convenient when it comes to drinking from the straws, so use a pair of scissors to snip the points off.
- If you made more than 1 straw, measure the straws against each other to ensure that they're all the same length.
- How short you cut your straw is up to you. Make sure that both ends are flat and not angled, however.
- The ends of the straw may get dented as you cut them. Use a chopstick, knitting needle, or other tapered tool to push them back into shape.
Coating the Straws
Break some canning paraffin wax into a jar.Find a large glass jar that's deep enough to fit your straw all the way in. Break some paraffin wax into smaller pieces, then add them to the jar. Use enough wax to fill the jar 1/2 to 2/3 of the way; how much you end up using will depend on the size of the jar.
- Don't use candle-making wax as it may not be food-safe. If you can't find canning paraffin wax, use beeswax. Be aware that it will have a slight fragrance.
- Do not use soy wax. It melts at low temperatures and will give your straws a sticky, greasy feel.
Melt the wax in a pot of hot water over low to medium-low heat.Place the jar into a pot, then fill the pot with a few inches/centimeters of water. Turn the stove on to low or medium-low heat, and wait for the wax to melt. This can take 10 to 15 minutes, so be patient.
- As the wax melts, you may need to add more pieces of paraffin wax; it needs to be deep enough to fit your straw 1/2 or 2/3 of the way in.
- Paraffin wax is flammable, so don't be tempted to speed the process up by turning the heat up. Slow, low, and steady is the key.
- How much water you use will vary. The top of the water needs to be level with the top of the wax in the jar.
Dip the straw into the wax then pull it out.Don't leave the straw in the wax for too long. Just dip it in and pull it out. If you leave it too long in the wax, the glue may dissolve and the straw may come apart.
- You won't be able to dip the straw all the way in, which is fine. As long as you can get it 1/2 to 2/3 of the way into the wax, you're good.
Let the wax drip back into the jar then wipe the rest off with a towel.Hold the straw over the jar of melted wax until it stops dripping. Next, run a paper towel across the waxed portion of the straw to remove the excess wax.
- Don't removeallof the wax—just the excess. A light sweep of your paper towel should be plenty.
- If the end of the straw is clogged with wax, stick a chopstick into it, twist it 2 to 3 times, then pull it out.
- The wax shouldn't stick to the paper towel. If it does, use a paper towel with a smoother texture. Don't use tissues or toilet paper; they're too soft and will stick.
Dip the other side of the straw into the wax, then wipe that off too.Rotate the straw by 180 degrees, then dip the other end into the wax. Pull it out immediately, then let the wax drip back into the jar. Use a paper towel to wipe the excess wax off.
- The wax should already be hard by the time you rotate it and dip it. If it's still wet, however, let it dry first; otherwise, you'll get fingerprints.
- Dip the straw a little more than 1/2 or 2/3 of the way so that the wax overlaps onto the already-waxed portion. This way, you won't have any gaps.
Let the straw finish drying on a plastic bag.The wax layer is very thin, so it should harden almost instantly. The inside of the straw may still be wet however, so set the straw down on a plastic bag and let it dry for a few minutes. Once the straw is dry, it's ready to use.
- The straw may look translucent once it's dry, which is normal. This is due to the nature of the paraffin wax.
- If you have other straws to dip, now is the time to do so.
- If you don't have access to a stove, heat the wax in a jar on a candle warmer or mug warmer.
- If you can't find paper that you like, print out your own designs. Since you'll be coating the paper with wax anyway, you don't have to worry about the ink bleeding.
- If the hot water is generating too much steam, turn the stove off. The wax will remain in a liquid state long enough for you to be able to dip at least a couple of straws.
- Don't pour the leftover wax down the drain. Let it harden, then discard it in the trash.
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