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Weetabix7

How To DIY Insulated Shipping Pouches

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Have you ever wanted to be able to ship frags to people, but not really known where to start?

The next time you're at a Reef Club Meeting or your favorite LFS, would you like to be able to casually & ever so suavely say, "I just got this amazing limited edition Jerry Box Twirling Tootsies frag in a trade with this guy. He lives way out in the cornfields in Iowa, but I was able to ship my end of our trade to him, & then he just used my packaging to send his Twirling Tootsies frag to me, & since he was just re-using my packaging I didn't have to worry about it getting to me in good shape."

Wanna up your Reef Game? B)

 

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, keep reading, you're in the right place!!!

If you answered no to all of them, well, I think you're just silly, but I guess we can still be friends.

Unless you don't like Coffee, then it's all over, cause Coffee is Awesome. 

 

I like this method of packaging because it means you can use the smallest flat rate Priority box which really lowers shipping cost, and the packaging materials also take up much less space. You will need to get a bag sealer to do this but they can be found fairly cheaply on Amazon & when you see what it allows you to do I think you'll end up agreeing with me that it's well worth it. This is one bag sealer listing I found, you might be able to find something even better if you shop around: https://www.amazon.com/Impulse-Manual-Sealing-Machine-Plastic/dp/B0711BF5LQ/ref=sr_1_26?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1503852727&sr=1-26&keywords=impulse+bag+sealer (make sure you search for "impulse bag sealer".)

 

 

I have been using a small bag of the Pink Panther insulation. I believe I got mine from Home Depot and paid around $6 for it. I like it because the bag doesn't take up much space but it works well & off the top of my head I'd say I've gotten around 20 DIY shipping pouches out of the one bag. 

I usually wear gloves when handling the insulation since has the potential to irritate skin, tho to be honest it hasn't bothered me when I touch it bare-handed.

Step 1.) Cut a piece of insulation that measures 8" x 10.5"

P1070216

 

If you use the piece of insulation as it is, it will be too thick to fit in the box with frags inside the pouch, so the next thing you do is--

Step 2.) Turn the insulation piece sideways and use scissors to cut through it so that you end up with 2 pieces of insulation that are half as thick, but still measure 8" x 10.5".

Don't worry that the insulation will be too thin to be effective, because you will end up folding it over to make the pouch, effectively doubling the insulation around what you ship as well.

P1070217

For the next step, I use plastic shopping bags, like what you would take home from the grocery store or Wal-Mart. 

Anyone getting a shipment from me should not be surprised if their shipping pouch says "Bi-Lo" on it. :lol:

Step 3a.) grab a plastic shopping bag, check all the seams to make there are no holes (like on the bottom left), then lay it down and flatten it out, folding the seams inward, so that it looks like the bag below right.

Step 3b.) Take your pre-cut 8" x 10.5" piece of insulation and slide it down into the bottom of the bag so that the 10.5" side lines up snugly with the bottom of the bag. 

It should be a perfect fit. 

P1070218

In this next step you will be sealing the insulation inside the bag & getting rid of the excess plastic at the top of the bag. 

Step 4.) Lay the bag across the sealer so that the insulation is just below where you are sealing, and push down the handle to make your first seal, with a quick up and down motion. I don't hold the handle down long, so just push down & then let it right back up. I use a heat setting of 3 on my sealer. The bag is longer than the sealer at this point, so I have to flip the bag over and do the same thing on the other side to get it to make a seal all the way across the top. Once you have a seal all the way across that will securely hold the insulation in, trim the excess plastic off the top with scissors. 

P1070219

 

What you end up with should look like this:

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Step 5.) Fold the sealed insulated bag over so that there is approx 1" overlapping from behind on one side, so that it looks like this:

P1070223

That overlap gives you a flap at the top to fold down & tape once you have frags nestled securely inside for shipping. 

Step 6.) Turn the shipping pouch sideways & use the sealer to seal each end closed, as seen below. I actually do this a couple of times on each end just to make sure there is a secure seal. The side that was originally the bottom of the shopping bag will be a little harder to seal since there is less excess plastic below the seam, but it can be done if you gently scooch some of the interior insulation up with your finger. 

P1070224

 

After you've sealed both ends, you will end up with a shipping pouch that fits perfectly into a small, flat-rate Priority shipping box, as seen below. You should be able to fit anywhere from 1-5 average sized frags into this. 

P1070227

 

If you didn't have the sealer and were using rubber bands to close bags, you wouldn't be able to fit as many frags in. 

That sealer really comes in handy!!!

I will take pics tomorrow when I begin shipping out Mud 'n Bugs 'n Macro and will follow up on here with how to bag & package up your frags (or Macro, or whatever) to arrive safely and leak-free. 

I hope this is helpful, feel free to ask any questions you might have!!

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Okey-doke, here's the follow up I promised. 

I've been using 2 different size bags to ship in, regular ones that are 6 x 12, and these long skinny ones that I don't know the dimensions on.

I kinda sorta used 'em up & shipped 'em out before remembering to measure them. :blush:

I got the skinny ones by just going to my LFS & asking if I could buy a few bags off of them. 

As long you use a sealer like I show below, you could probably get away with using Zip-loc bags, but not the cheap, flimsy ones. And don't use the ziploc top to seal 'em, only do it with the Impulse Sealer!!

 

I actually don't put a ton of water in my bags. 

If you package them like I show you, it's not needed, and it allows you to fit more into the package. 

Below you can see one of the regular 6 x 12 bags with Macro in it. As you can see, a little of the top of the Macro is sticking out of the water. 

P1070228

 

 

But wait, I'm not done yet!!

Slide the bag right up against the side of the Sealer and gently drape the top of the bag over the Sealer so that the top of the water line is just barely below where you seal the bag. 

When you do this, it redistributes the water and keeps everything safely submerged while still keeping the volume low. 

Here's how it looks just before I make the first seal, you can see the Macro is submerged pretty well:

P1070231

 

You can seal it twice by going up just a slight bit further & making a second seal. Use scissors to trim off an excess bag above the seal/s.

With the skinnier bags you can do smaller frags or portions and I also like to make more than one little pouch out of a skinny bag, with a couple seals in between. 

This is what it ends up looking like when I do that:

P1070240

 

Once I have all of the individual little sealed baggy pouches, I put all of them inside one of the regular 6 x 12 bags and seal that, just as extra insurance against any leakage. 

Here's what it looks like with one 6 x 12 bag and 2 smaller little baggy pouches all sealed up together in a larger 6 x 12 bag:

 

P1070241

 

Then put this double sealed bag into the Insulated Shipping Pouch, 

 

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.... fold over the flap at the top of the pouch and tape it down, and take the entire Insulated Pouch & slide it into yet another 6 x 12 bag and seal that. Trim off any excess bag.

Doing this provides both an extra layer of leak protection, but it also helps with the insulation by providing yet one more barrier between outside temps & the temps you're trying to preserve inside the bag. 

Here's what the final bagged & sealed Insulated Pouch looks like:

P1070235

 

 

And there you have it, that's my process!!!

Now go forth and frag and ship and trade all kindsa beautiful Reefy Goodness!!!!!!

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SeaFurn   

Awesome! 

Sticky worthy!

 

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lkoechle   

I agree to sticky!  You have mad shipping skills. lol

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28 minutes ago, lkoechle said:

I agree to sticky!  You have mad shipping skills. lol

 

Lol, thanks!!

You and @SeaFurn should both know since you've both received packages from me!!

Really though, anyone who follows what I show in this guide can do it. 

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SeaFurn   
11 minutes ago, Weetabix7 said:

 

Lol, thanks!!

You and @SeaFurn should both know since you've both received packages from me!!

Really though, anyone who follows what I show in this guide can do it. 

No doubt! It was too nice to throw away so I kept it (I was gonna reverse engineer it-haha) but I  just reused it to send some GSP to Lula!  I think she probably has a collection of them now! 

 

No need for reverse engineering now! 

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Genius! I'll be trying this next time I need to ship something. 

 

I think I'm missing something though, do you fill the bag with water, or are you putting little bags containing frags into the insulated bag? 

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45 minutes ago, teenyreef said:

Genius! I'll be trying this next time I need to ship something. 

 

I think I'm missing something though, do you fill the bag with water, or are you putting little bags containing frags into the insulated bag? 

 

I'm putting little bags, filled with water and frags inside the insulated bag/pouch that I showed how to make above. 

I'll take pics and document how to do that part of it when I ship out tomorrow, so there will be a follow up posted here on how to do that. 

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3 hours ago, Weetabix7 said:

 

I'm putting little bags, filled with water and frags inside the insulated bag/pouch that I showed how to make above. 

I'll take pics and document how to do that part of it when I ship out tomorrow, so there will be a follow up posted here on how to do that. 

Gotcha, that's what I was hoping. I couldn't figure out how a bag sealed with tape was going to stay watertight. I've already got my sealer and my baggies, so the insulated bag is all I was missing :)

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Alrighty, I just edited the first post and added in the pics of how I bag everything up. 

Just go back to the first post and scroll down to the bottom of it. 

Hope this is very helpful for the Community!!!

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This is a seriously awesome writeup! 

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Lula_Mae   

This is great! I always thought the insulation was genius. :happy:

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jbb_00   

omgomgomg

 

its like tiny sleeping bags for coralz !!!!

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JoeR   

Definitely a good method! The heat sealer is sort of an issue for most people I'd say, but worth the investment. I wonder if there's something else you could use like an old hair straightener or iron or something. Line it with a product so it doesn't melt onto it.

 

I was surprised when I received my shipment from SaltCritters- it was just a box lined with 1" thick sheet styrofoam. Super simple and cheap but also super effective, especially for someone who doesn't Have a heat sealer on hand and needs to get coral out asap. Don't know how the price would compare to your method though?

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2 minutes ago, JoeR said:

Definitely a good method! The heat sealer is sort of an issue for most people I'd say, but worth the investment. I wonder if there's something else you could use like an old hair straightener or iron or something. Line it with a product so it doesn't melt onto it.

 

I was surprised when I received my shipment from SaltCritters- it was just a box lined with 1" thick sheet styrofoam. Super simple and cheap but also super effective, especially for someone who doesn't Have a heat sealer on hand and needs to get coral out asap. Don't know how the price would compare to your method though?

I use the styrofoam method and it works fine. The nice thing about the insulated pouch is you can use the cheapest USPS flat rate box, which you can't use with styrofoam, because it's too thick.

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On 8/29/2017 at 9:17 PM, jbb_00 said:

omgomgomg

 

its like tiny sleeping bags for coralz !!!!

 

Omg, YASSSSSS!!!!!!

On 8/29/2017 at 9:48 PM, teenyreef said:

I use the styrofoam method and it works fine. The nice thing about the insulated pouch is you can use the cheapest USPS flat rate box, which you can't use with styrofoam, because it's too thick.

 

This is pretty much exactly right. 

I've used the styrofoam shipping method for many years and it definitely works. 

I switched to this method partly cause the shipping materials take up less space with this, and because shipping has gotten ridiculously expensive and I can ship most things in a small flat rate box this way, which helps cut cost. 

I still use the styro method if I have a bigger shipment to send out.

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Also, I've been really surprised how successful two day shipping can be. Typically the corals spend less than 48 hours in the box, and as long as the weather is temperate, they seem to do just fine. I've gotten zoas, montis, and acros all successfully shipped using second day.

And at least in my case, USPS two day is much quicker than Fedex or UPS. It comes to my house by 1:00 PM when the mailman gets here. UPS and Fedex don't come to my house until after 5, sometimes as late as 7 PM.

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Lula_Mae   
32 minutes ago, teenyreef said:

Also, I've been really surprised how successful two day shipping can be. Typically the corals spend less than 48 hours in the box, and as long as the weather is temperate, they seem to do just fine. I've gotten zoas, montis, and acros all successfully shipped using second day.

And at least in my case, USPS two day is much quicker than Fedex or UPS. It comes to my house by 1:00 PM when the mailman gets here. UPS and Fedex don't come to my house until after 5, sometimes as late as 7 PM.

Yeah I was shocked when my blastos from Diver's Den survived four days in transit.

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35 minutes ago, Lula_Mae said:

Yeah I was shocked when my blastos from Diver's Den survived four days in transit.

I remember back when @gena had monti caps, she did some experiments to see just how much abuse the frags could take in shipping. I seem to remember she even put some in the fridge for a couple days...I think the bottom line was that as long as they were in water, didn't freeze or boil, and got from point a to point b in four days or less, there was no problem :D

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gena   
9 hours ago, teenyreef said:

I remember back when @gena had monti caps, she did some experiments to see just how much abuse the frags could take in shipping. I seem to remember she even put some in the fridge for a couple days...I think the bottom line was that as long as they were in water, didn't freeze or boil, and got from point a to point b in four days or less, there was no problem :D

I didn't quite go to that extreme...I don't think???? :huh:

 

I just let them sit in a bag for like a week on the counter...during winter, so it did get cold.

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I totally forgot to post this last week 🙈

I bought some macros from Weetie and omg - best packed shipment I've ever gotten. Here are some photos. The macro was in perfect shape and I even got a few yummy critters ...

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On 9/7/2017 at 0:11 PM, stellablue said:

I totally forgot to post this last week 🙈

I bought some macros from Weetie and omg - best packed shipment I've ever gotten. Here are some photos. The macro was in perfect shape and I even got a few yummy critters ...

IMG_6900.JPG

IMG_6901.JPG

IMG_6902.JPG

 

Thx Stella!!

I'm tellin' ya, this method of shipping works!!

I even had someone in the Houston area get a package today that took 3 days instead of 2 cause things are still a little backed up around there after Hurricane Harvey, and they still got everything alive and in good shape!

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Rene   

This is awesome!  Where do you put heat/cold packs for this kind of shipping, or do you not use them?  

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12 hours ago, Rene said:

This is awesome!  Where do you put heat/cold packs for this kind of shipping, or do you not use them?  

 

Thanks!! I personally haven't been using them, and have had no problems. 

I honestly never use cold packs anyway. 

Well, maybe once, but not in a package like this. 

As for heat packs, this kind of packaging technique is small enough that it would likely overheat it. 

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Rene   

Thanks!  That makes sense!

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