how to quick chill bottles
Sally Schneider

Our friend Chris Deatherage forwarded an email compilation of unattributed little improvisations that seemed at first glance to be truly useful. (Who puts together these endlessly-forwarded compilation emails, anyway?)

We were charmed by the spirit of improvisation they reflected.  We culled the 9 below and tested a few out. Wrapping a wet paper towel around a room-temperature bottle of soda before placing it in the freezer did indeed chill the bottle faster than an unwrapped bottle. GREAT.  But the recommendation to “use a magnet to find sheetrock studs in your walls” (bottom) was a serious bust because many studs are made of aluminum.

As for the rest of these ideas, we take them with a grain of salt. Our experience with our own big ideas for improvisations is that there are often unexpected design issues we didn’t anticipate. Actually trying ideas out yields an abundance of info; the trick is to be willing to shift gears, tweak, or even abandon an idea when a real-world test tells us otherwise. (It’s the reason we call our space ‘laboratory’; it’s a testing ground…with successes….and failures….).

Here are our questions about the rest of those “brilliant” improvs:

Would you be afraid you might lose your little chapstick vial full of money?


hide your emergency cash in a chapstick tube


…Isn’t it just as easy to roll the tape end back on itself rather than bother with using a plastic bread thingy?


improvs to make life easier

…wouldn’t the wrapping paper rolls need to be just the right size, and not to springy,  to have the toilet paper rolls hold them tight?

improvs to make life easier

…anyone checked a hotel room tv lately?
improvs to make life easier

…maybe, if we could remember how to type an ń…
improvs to make life easier

…seemed like a good idea, but if you’re lying on it while it melts, won’t the water squeeze out of the sponge and burst the bag?

improvs to make life easier

…this one works!

improvs to make life easier

…so does this one:

improvs to make life easier

…oops, this one was a bust:

improvs to make life easier

The lesson: don’t believe everything you read on the internet. Test it out for yourself…and tailor ideas that do work to your own needs and improvisations.

Related posts: the crazy brilliance of walmart parking lot improvs
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improv personal style: one shirt worn 50 ways
nina’s tool bucket: essentials for doing-it-yourself
reader’s improv: rubber-stamps from carved erasersa perfect set of wheels for making furniture mobile + a great sapien bookcase hack

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4 replies on “8 improvs that make life better (don’t believe everything you read!)

  1. I use the wrapping paper one. I’ve never had issues with a size mismatch. It might be more important that the fit is snug if you store the rolls upright but if they are horizontal then the tp rolls seem to be enough to keep things from unrolling just fine.

    The water bottle on its side is brilliant. I’ll have to figure out how to find space in my freezer for that.

  2. The magnets will find the screws that hold the drywall on, therefore have found the stud.

  3. Hey, thanks. Seems like the theory is right, but I just tried it with a strong magnet and no luck. So there’s some anomaly somewhere….What do you think?

  4. I think the toilet paper rolls would probably work most effectively is secured with a rubber band, while helping to prevent creases in the paper…

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