Bottled up - The making of a Water mattress,Kayak,raft from plastic bottles

This is the story of how being a hoarder is not such a bad idea (sometimes at-least)

For some time, me and my roommate started collecting plastic bottles from all sorts of beverages but mainly mineral water...

We kept them because we thought they could be useful for lots of stuff that could be made by us, but after about a year,they started taking up a-lot of space so we had to dispose them.

We had two choices

  • put them in the recycle bin
  • create a massive project using as much of them as possible

You are here because we chose to make something big :)

We thought hard about what can we make from a large amount of plastic bottles.

I have this idea for a long time now, to create a huge real life "snakes and ladders" game in 3d from recycled materials and naturally I pushed this idea but nobody wanted to make this project with me :( (they all say it's not safe and nobody would want to climb it... not without an insurance company involved at-least)

So after some more thinking we chose to make a Water mattress/Kayak/raft

The first step is to understand how to bundle all the bottles together.
We checked some types of glues:

  • Hot glue
  • Silicone glue
  • 3 second glue
  • electrical type
  • masking tape

and more..
none of them stood the test of time/water proofing or load

Until we tried the gaffer tape
Here is some info from wiki :
Gaffer tape (also known as gaffer's tape, gaffing tape, gaff tape[1] or gaffa tape[2]) is a strong, tough, cotton cloth pressure-sensitive tape with strong adhesive properties. It can also be used as a waterproof packaging tape
Ha-Ha!! strong,tough and waterproof! That's about all we need to glue the bottles together and be sure it would stick on water.

So first thing we've glued two bottles and soaked them in water for the weekend, just to test it out...
And it really worked as expected they where still glued together, moreover the tape was still sticky underwater!

So we started building the raft,We figured that 2 rows of 7 bottles wide and 6 bottles long is enough so 1 person could lay in it because 7(wide)6(long)2(rows)*1.5(bottle volume) = 126kg of buoyancy which is enough for us.
If more is needed you could add another row

started building

peeling the labels from the bottles so that the tape will stick better peeling the labels from the bottles so that the tape will stick better

bundling the bottles bundling the bottles
bundling the bottles still bundling the bottles

bundled two rows together bundled two rows together

A complete row A complete row! Whoohoo! :))

Two rows! Two rows bundled up

Made a back rest Made a back rest

Life belts Because we had some more bottles we made life belts

We added a paddle from scrape wood we made a paddle

And now, for field test :

Here we go stuffing the construction in the car took some imagination and tetris skills that I've acquired in my past

trying out the life belt and the kayak trying out the life belt and the kayak

The breaking up part

Of course, after all the shenanigans we recycled the bottles

In conclusion the raft worked great and didn't break apart.
The life belts did broke apart but we learned that 4 bottles are all it takes to keep you lifted above the water.

Btw the whole building process didn't took more than a couple of hours which is great

Maybe there will be a follow up project where we build a couple of those and set sail :).

Hope you enjoyed it!
Cya till next time