HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >
What's your latest food project? Share your adventure

Bottles/Test Tubes for Sending Liquid Samples?

Jim Leff Mar 28, 2008 06:39 PM

I need to figure out how to send small samples of liquid through the mail. Maybe a couple of sips of four different drinks. Needs to be in glass (which I'd pad well) or very non-reactive plastic, and must seal extremely securely.

Any suggestions?

  1. alanbarnes Mar 28, 2008 07:15 PM

    If you need a lot of 'em:


    2 Replies
    1. re: alanbarnes
      Jim Leff Mar 28, 2008 07:25 PM

      Well, that's wholesale...wonder where they retail stuff like that....

      I was really hoping there'd be a simple suggestion in a place like CVS, but that may be unrealistic....

      1. re: Jim Leff
        alanbarnes Mar 28, 2008 08:05 PM

        For retail, your best bet is a local lab/medical supply house. Not exactly walk-in friendly, but if you have a part number from Fisher or another supply house they'll be able to track it down for you. Better yet, make friends with a chemist...

    2. m
      MakingSense Mar 28, 2008 08:40 PM

      Reuse bottles. The small liquor bottles that airline booze comes in. Shampoo samples, etc. Extracts or other liquid food products. They don't leak.
      I've gotten 4 oz bottles from the pharmacy. They had smaller ones too. But then we deal with an old fashioned pharmacy.
      A travel supply store that sells the TSA-approved bottles for travel.

      1 Reply
      1. re: MakingSense
        hannaone Mar 28, 2008 08:48 PM

        I assume that Jeff is asking in reference to this thread:


        So he would need unused glassware suitable for shipping to an importer/distributor.

        If there is anyone on the board that is in the wine/spirits importing buisiness, they could possibly lend a hand??

        EDIT: Maybe similar request on the wine or spirits boards or a heads up post pointing to this thread may help.

      2. alkapal Mar 29, 2008 04:57 AM

        I hate to tell you, but there may be some legal issues shipping that "liquid" across interstate/international borders --- or even through the mail, for that matter.

        quick and dirty way to find out what you need to know, talk to fedx or ups shipping customer service. may keep you out of some hot water..... (then of course, use them for the shipping).

        plus, do not use plastic that is non-food-grade. i would not recommend any plastic except the kind that holds alcoholic products (ahem....). glass obviously is preferable, but presents a couple more problems -- fragility and weight.....

        4 Replies
        1. re: alkapal
          bob192 Mar 29, 2008 07:47 AM

          Here in NYC (and everywhere else?) the postal clerk's mandated standard question is "Does this package contain anything fragile, liquid, or perishable?" If you answer yes, I assume they won't let you mail it.

          1. re: bob192
            Jim Leff Mar 29, 2008 09:39 AM

            Guys, thanks for the legal advice and guesswork as to the service I'm using and the contents of my package.

            But, really, I'm just asking a simple question. Thanks.

          2. re: alkapal
            im_nomad Mar 29, 2008 12:32 PM

            Good point alkapal (and sorry to take your post OT Jim)...but back in the day when i was more naive , an intended recipient of a local bottle of wine got their knuckles severely rapped by the PS when i'd sent it through the mail. I lived in fear for days that the authorities would show up on my doorstep !! lol (actually i kinda did).

            Back on topic.....how about those Tupperware Midgets?
            I use these to transport dressings and other liquids back and forth to work, and they also have the measurements on the side, they seal very well. You can find them easily on e-bay too.

            I'd go for any kind of plastic container, and for extra security, put inside a ziploc bag.

            For glass, go for a screw top spice container with a good seal. You can find those at any dollar store.

            1. re: im_nomad
              Jim Leff Mar 29, 2008 03:35 PM

              re: Tupperware Midgets, I'm not sure how reactive the plastic is

              Screw top spice container with a good seal is indeed a good fallback option. Thanks! Would like something a bit better sealing, ideally, and a bit smaller, to boot.

          3. x
            xanadude Mar 29, 2008 05:01 PM

            Any packaging store (including several online--I recommend www.uline.com personally) will sell multiple sizes of food-grade plastic jars. Many shipping companies will require they be double bagged (eg bottle inside sealed bag) and/or use vermiculite for protection (which you can also buy from a packaging store like uline) and labelled appropriately. Most likely, you'll need to ship via UPS ground.

            Please note that shipping alcohol is likely to add a number of other restrictions (eg no delivery under 21, etc).

            1. alkapal Mar 30, 2008 02:13 AM

              voila: http://www.freundcontainer.com/product.asp_Q_pn_E_71001_A_cn_E_137


              maybe these, too: http://www.freundcontainer.com/catego...

              2 Replies
              1. re: alkapal
                Jim Leff Mar 30, 2008 07:41 AM

                Thanks, perfect. Exorbitant shipping, however.

                1. re: Jim Leff
                  alkapal Mar 30, 2008 04:11 PM

                  ah, there's the rub.

              2. meatn3 Mar 30, 2008 08:44 AM

                How about these?


                They are used for soy sauce and such for bento boxes. These are the simplest I have seen - most fall into the terminally cute category.

                1 Reply
                1. re: meatn3
                  meatn3 Mar 31, 2008 08:26 AM

                  I'm not sure what happened with the link, look in the Bento category of that site.
                  Sorry :)

                2. Servorg Mar 30, 2008 09:22 AM

                  These are priced at a case of 24 of the 4oz size for $19.92. Did not notice what their shipping cost would run.


                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Servorg
                    Miss Needle Mar 31, 2008 12:43 PM

                    I've ordered stuff from there a few times with no problems whatsoever. They have a pretty large selection.

                  2. m
                    MakingSense Mar 30, 2008 10:27 AM

                    I've send liquids in the past and suggest that you ship by ground transportation. Changes in air pressure can cause even professionally sealed bottles to ooze and leak.
                    This could damage any labeling you have on your bottles and possibly create other problems.
                    I suggest using UPS or FedEx ground.
                    Also that you wrap individual bottles in absorbent paper before sealing in individual ziplocks. It worked well for me.

                    1. MaspethMaven Mar 30, 2008 11:19 AM

                      Hi Jim.

                      I suggest specialty bottle. No order minimum, and they have threaded vials with rubber tops. Some models have dropper option. Easy, safe transport AND dispensing.
                      They have a 4 dram glass bottle at .51 each, and shipping is about $4.50.

                      Good luck with your project.


                      1. l
                        LisaN Mar 30, 2008 12:01 PM

                        The Container Store
                        Just found on their site Glass bottles with droppers

                        Also Dram bottles http://www.containerstore.com/browse/Product.jhtml?searchId=13491481&itemIndex=38&CATID=74064&PRODID=69231

                        Small Food jars for like homemade jams, etc

                        Polycarbonate leakproof bottles

                        Small jars

                        They are all over the place, so maybe you can go in and buy some.

                        1. danhole Mar 30, 2008 01:06 PM

                          This may sound really off the wall, but what about the test tubes you get with Aquarium water testing kits? I know they seal tight, and I also know that the plastic top is non-reactive, because of the chemicals you have to put in them. Some of the chemicals have large caution warning about not getting on your skin, but you add a few drops to a sample of the aquarium water, cap on, then shake for a minute, or whatever (depends). So if they weren't non-reactive you would have a real problem.

                          Here is one link I found where you can get 24 tubes for $13. If you like this idea I can look further. Have a tank and a lot of links!


                          1. pikawicca Mar 30, 2008 01:15 PM

                            Penzey's sells these, both plastic and glass. They are inexpensive, and you can buy as few as you wish.

                            1. Jim Leff Mar 30, 2008 02:24 PM

                              I do believe we've just created the Definitive Resource on this issue!

                              You know, expanding Chowhound to national (we started out focused on NY tristate), and then withstanding all the pain and expense of growth was a pretty prohibitively labor-intense undertaking, but it seems worth it when you can elicit such a great sweeping depth of info on a really specific issue so quickly. Thanks, guys!

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: Jim Leff
                                alkapal Mar 30, 2008 04:10 PM

                                thank YOU, jim leff. you did a good thing. best of luck in your (ad)venture.

                                1. re: Jim Leff
                                  Fydeaux Mar 31, 2008 05:48 AM

                                  You might try a beauty supply store! I was able to find a good supply of plastice squeeze bottles in sizes from maybe 1 1/2 oz on up in any quantity I wanted. Considering that they were intended to be used for hair chemicals, I cant imagine any food or liquid that might be a problem. I used them for samples of hot sauce I was making.

                                  1. re: Fydeaux
                                    Jim Leff Mar 31, 2008 07:37 AM

                                    The interesting thing is that sufficient interaction to affect flavor is actually a very very low bar. It only takes a few parts per million of a strong tasting plastic to change the delicate flavor of a subtle drink. So materials that aren't interactive for purposes like hair chemicals can't be counted on not to inject flavor.

                                    That's why "food grade" plastic is a relatively rare and expensive thing.

                                    1. re: Jim Leff
                                      danhole Mar 31, 2008 08:21 AM

                                      I found another source for the aquarium testing tubes, for only $10 for 24 bottles. You may want to try it out, to test it. I would imagine any water testing kit test tubes would be acceptable. The chemicals in those kits are much more corrosive than hair products. Only the top is plastic, the tubes are always glass.

                                2. PaulaT Mar 31, 2008 01:23 PM

                                  american science and surplus Sciplus.com

                                  1. badseed Apr 13, 2008 12:59 PM

                                    Try Mason jars, that's what all the old moonshiners use. They come in various small sizes and you should be able to find them locally.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: badseed
                                      pikawicca Apr 13, 2008 01:37 PM

                                      I've never seen a Mason jar of the size the OP requires.

                                      1. re: badseed
                                        alanbarnes Apr 13, 2008 02:32 PM

                                        If a half-pint mason jar is "a couple of sips" to you, we may be related. My great-grandfather took a thimbleful of whiskey a day for medicinal purposes. But you should've seen the size of his drinking thimble.

                                      2. Jim Leff Apr 13, 2008 08:34 PM

                                        Just a follow-up to say that The Container Store is absolutely one's friend for situations like this. They had lots of food-quality heavy duty polycarbonate but tiny bottles of varying sizes. And little tubes. Just perfect.

                                        I got thrown out of the store for taking cell phone camera photos of trash cans, but I still admire them.

                                        Show Hidden Posts