How to Make a Message in a Bottle

Three Parts:Preparing the BottleWriting the MessageSending the Message

Making a message in a bottle can be an entertaining craft and a fun experiment. People have been making and sending messages in bottles for thousands of years. In addition to the fun of making it, the idea of a person receiving your message in a different part of the world can be very exciting. Your message in a bottle could end up across the ocean and you may even receive a response some day.

Part 1
Preparing the Bottle

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    Remove the label (optional). Most bottles will be covered by a label and you may want to remove that label so that your message in a bottle is not mistaken for trash.[1]
    • To remove the label, place the bottle in hot water and let it sit for at least one hour.
    • The hot water will loosen the glue on the label and make it easy for you to peel the label off. You may need to scrape some of the glue off of the bottle.
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    Clean the bottle. Fill the inside of the bottle with warm soapy water and cover the opening of the bottle with your hand. Gently shake the bottle up and down for at least 30 seconds to remove any substances from the inside of the bottle. Pour out the soapy water and rinse the inside of the bottle with warm water.[2]
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    Dry the bottle. Once you have removed the label and cleaned the inside, place the bottle upside down in a strainer and allow it to dry. It will take about one hour for the inside of the bottle to completely dry, depending on the temperature in the room. You can also allow the inside of the bottle to dry overnight.
    • To dry the inside of the bottle more quickly, place it in the oven on low heat at 150 °F (65.6 °C) for approximately 25 to 30 minutes. Be cautious when removing the bottle from the oven and allow it to cool off before continuing with the process. [3]
    • Another alternative for drying the inside of the bottle is rolling up a paper towel lengthwise and placing it inside of the bottle. Be sure to leave a portion of the paper towel on the outside of the bottle so that it can be easily removed.

Part 2
Writing the Message

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    Write a message. Start writing your message while the bottle is drying. You can write a story about your life, a poem, or an encouraging message. The possibilities are endless and you should write whatever you want to share, as long as the message is positive.
    • Since it is highly likely that a stranger will read the message, be sure not to reveal sensitive personal information. For instance, do not include your age or phone number if you are under the age of eighteen.
    • You can add things that you enjoy, such as your favorite sport or your favorite food.
    • Once you have finished writing your message, read it to determine if it is truly what you want to share with a stranger. They may contact you years down the road, so be sure to share something interesting.
    • Some people send a message in a bottle for sentimental purposes, such as sharing a love story.[4]
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    Add contact information. Instead of using your address, use a Post Office Box number. You can also use an email address if you have an email address that you feel comfortable sharing with strangers. This allows the recipient to track you down and tell you where they found your message in a bottle.
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    Secure the message. Roll up your message as tightly as possible and place a small piece of tape around it to keep it from unraveling. Be sure that the tape will not destroy the message when the recipient unrolls the message. Drop your message into the bottle after the bottle is dry and make sure the entire piece of paper fits in the bottle.
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    Add a warning. Use a permanent marker to write a warning on the outside of the bottle, such as: "Do not throw this bottle away - message inside!" Make sure that the words are clearly visible.

Part 3
Sending the Message

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    Re-cork the bottle with the original top. You can improvise with an insoluble material and waterproof glue. The goal is to prevent water from seeping into the bottle and destroying the message.
    • Pour melted wax onto the cork before placing it back onto the bottle for a much stronger seal that is more likely to endure water and temperature changes. [5]
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    Test your bottle. To make sure that your bottle is buoyant and floats, drop your bottle into a bathtub and make sure that it does not sink to the bottom. No one will receive your bottle if it sinks to the bottom of the ocean.
    • If it does not float, you will need to find another bottle.
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    Take it to the ocean. The goal is to simply place your bottle in the ocean and hope that it reaches a far away destination.
    • Check the litter rules. Verify that the rules in your county do not prohibit you from sending a message in a bottle.[6]
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    Await a response. Now that you have sent your bottle off into the world, all you have to do is wait. Do not expect to hear from someone that day, the following week, or the following month. It could take many months, even many years for someone to receive your message.
    • Be patient and do not get discouraged if you do not receive a response because it could still happen years down the road.
    • It has been reported that bottles from the titanic survived at sea for over a century.

Things You'll Need

  • Tall glass bottle with a cork (wine bottles are perfect)
  • Paper (any type of sturdy paper)
  • Pen
  • Marker


  • Decorate your bottle to make it look unique.
  • Wax paper can be placed around the paper message inside the bottle to ensure that it is waterproof.
  • Choose a bottle with an interesting color because it will make your bottle more attractive and noticeable.
  • You can use different types of bottles as long as they remain waterproof and float.
  • A cork is preferred because it probably will not disintegrate while in the sea.
  • Avoid using plastic because seabirds, whales, sea turtles and other marine life can die from eating plastic.[7]


  • Avoid placing your bottle near rocks or anything else that will hinder movement.
  • Make sure you know your county's littering laws and do not violate them.
  • Do not include any personal information.

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Categories: Boredom Busters | Ideas and Inspiration