I've always wanted to send a message in a bottle - there's something very romantic and whimsical about casting a handwritten letter out into the sea, waiting for it to wash up on some distant shore and be read by a total stranger. So, this week we decided to do one for our very own - and I've written up this handy guide so that you can create your own message in a bottle!
P.S: Have you found a message in a bottle? Where did it wash up and what did it say?!
P.P.S: How far do you think our bottle might go?
How to send a message in a bottle
Sending a message in a bottle is such a fun experience to do - whether you're a child or an adult! It's a great thing to do with your family or friends. Here is a little tutorial showing you how to make and send a message in a bottle for yourself!
1. Prepare a bottle (medium or large size).
You can either use a bottle recycled from something you've drunk - or buy one online from somewhere like eBay. If you use one from home, you will need to remove the label. There are a few different ways to remove the label, the easiest is to soak it in something. Warm water for 5-10 minutes works well, you can also try warm water and baking soda for 20-30 minutes, after which the label should just slip off. If you can't be bothered to do this, you can just scrape it off with a wipe - though it might not all come off well!
2. Clean the bottle
If you have recycled this bottle, drunk from another beverage, then you will need to wash the inside out (we don't want wine or soda left with the message!). Use warm water mixed with dish soap and rinse it out a few times. If you have a bottle brush, giving it a scrub will add a lot of help! Once it's washed, leave it to dry out for 24 hours somewhere warm (but not too hot).
3. Gather the things you will need.
Everyone is different, but we used: a large bottle, a piece of A4 paper, celotape, sticky white labels, waterproof flex tape, a cork and some pens. At minimum, you're going to need a bottle, cork, pens and paper. The celotape is to keep the message rolled up in shape, and to waterproof over the sticky label (used to write "read me" on the front). The flex tape makes a waterproof seal around the cork, and around the sticky label.
4. Write out your message - include a way to contact you!
Write out your message of choice! We chose to say where we were from, our names, the date we released the bottle and that we wanted to see how far around the world the bottle could go. Then included my email address and instagram username so that the person who finds it can get in touch with us! You could also use your home address or some other method of contact, like telephone!
5. Get the message into the bottle.
You need to roll up the message so that it is thin enough to fit in the neck of the bottle and down. We rolled ours up tight and secured it with celotape, you could also use string or glue! Make sure it's thinner than the neck and will fit inside it, and then slot the message in.
6. Secure and waterproof the bottle.
You really don't want any water getting in if possible - it might ruin your message. Put a cork in the bottle for starters. You could then use multiple methods to make sure the cork stays in and the bottle is sealed. We used waterproof flex tape, sealing all of the bottle and cork which meant that it should stay nice and dry. You could also melt wax over the cork or find another method that suits you. We then also wrote a "read me" label on the bottle and sealed this with 1. celotape over the front, and 2. flex tape around the celotape edges to make sure that stayed as dry as possible.
7. Release the bottle at a beach near the sea.
You want to choose a beach close to the sea if possible, as a river might take it down another path... but ultimately, all rivers lead to the sea in the end - so you could use a local river! We used a beach in the mouth of the Thames estuary which opens straight into the North Sea, which could mean the bottle will travel anywhere! Tips: make sure you have a good throw to get the bottle far out and into the current, so it's carried well! We used our strongest arm to do a huge throw!
8. Make a note of the day you sent the bottle, write about it or record it and wait for someone in the future to contact you (hopefully!)
I hope this helped you out. Hopefully if you release your bottle too, someone somewhere will find it in the future and be able to tell you how far it went!