Flying/airport security with a suspicious looking home remedy
August 19, 2016 8:46 AM   Subscribe

I will be flying (within the US) in a few days. I also have a yeast infection that I am treating with homemade boric acid capsules. What do?

For the uninitiated, boric acid is an effective way to treat yeast infections. It comes as a fine white powder, which you then fill into plain gelatin capsules. So I would like to fly with several of these unmarked capsules filled with white powder so that I can continue treating the yeast infection while I am away.

However, I am very worried about what might happen if my bag (which I am carrying on, not checking) is searched and these pills are found. They could easily be misinterpreted for illegal drugs, or maybe explosives? Who knows.

I found a thread on another forum where this was discusses, and most of the advice was of the "don't worry, you should be fine" variety, which is a little vague. It was also suggested that the pills be put into some other marked bottle (Tylenol, vitamins, etc.) so as not to look suspicious, but I am reluctant to do this -- boric acid is very harmful if taken orally and even though the risk of someone else finding the bottle and taking one of the pills is very slim, I'm not sure if doing that is a good idea.

Any thoughts about what I should do?
posted by anonymous to Travel & Transportation (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Any chance you can get a doctor or pharmacist to write a note?
posted by Etrigan at 8:52 AM on August 19, 2016

I have often (hundreds of times?) taken pills, vitamins, and supplements out of their containers and put the right number in a baggie. That baggie goes in the toiletries bag with toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, etc. I've never had questions, been stopped, nothing. You will be fine. Just don't be weird about it or bring it up and literally nobody else will notice.
posted by Mo Nickels at 8:53 AM on August 19, 2016 [15 favorites]

Pack them into one of those 7 day pill keepers and pack a labeled bottle of OTC meds/supplements (with its original contents). I've never been asked about pills in a pill keeper. Mine match the pills in the labeled bottles I bring, but nobody has ever asked or opened the bottled to compare.
posted by crazycanuck at 8:53 AM on August 19, 2016 [6 favorites]

I fly with loose pills in ziplock bags and no one ever bats an eye. I even travel with THC hard candies these days.
posted by humboldt32 at 8:57 AM on August 19, 2016 [8 favorites]

While I agree that pills are no problem for travel, if you are truly concerned, boric acid is easily acquirable at any pharmacy, so you could just pick some up at your destination.
posted by Karaage at 9:00 AM on August 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

I also fly with loose pills/capsules in ziplocks regularly and haven't had an issue.
posted by griphus at 9:08 AM on August 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I also travel with unlabeled OTC stuff all the time; no one ever bats an eye. But if you're very concerned, what about bringing the boric acid and the empty capsules in their original packaging?
posted by mskyle at 9:08 AM on August 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

I keep a small ziploc bag of multiple pills in my purse, it has never ever been looked at or questioned at the airport. One time something in my purse triggered a more thorough search, and they didn't even look at the pill bag while rifling through.

Ive had issues at music venues with a bag of misc pills (I totally get it and just toss them without a fight), but never an airport.
posted by Fig at 9:39 AM on August 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

They find drugs and explosives with a swab test or sniffing dogs, not usually by looking at people's pills. Even if they see the pills and are concerned (which is very unlikely), they would run another test. We can't guarantee that no one will give you any trouble, but the odds are very low.
posted by soelo at 10:06 AM on August 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

We have flown with those same home-made capsules of boric acid, in a ziplock, many times. There has never been an issue on any of the screenings.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 10:16 AM on August 19, 2016

I fly often in the US with a selection of loose pills in an old, unlabeled pill bottle in my toilet kit. It also contains a metal flashlight, which is occasionally detected by the luggage x-ray, and then identified as such* during the secondary. The pill bottle is ignored.

* When the TSA was new, a trainer explained to his subordinate that "bullets could be stored inside these."

posted by Rash at 10:35 AM on August 19, 2016

I make my own supplements with bulk powders and capsules. Never had an issue with it at the airport.
I've been searched a few times, thoroughly enough to make me miss my flight, and they were never interested in my home made supplements. (It was a big bag of peanuts that aroused suspicion one time, and (oddly) a tote bag full of vinyl jazz records the other).
posted by ethical_caligula at 11:03 AM on August 19, 2016

Nthing that it would probably be ignored. (especially if flying domestically - if you ran into trouble I would expect it to come from customs, not TSA).

If I were you, and flying internationally, I would spend some time looking into what your rights are, and what standard CBP practice is in the appropriate countries when suspected illegal drugs are found.

What's the likelihood that you would be detained until the pills were tested? How long would that take? I don't think you are going to end up in a Thai prison or anything, but a 3 hour delay could screw up your travel plans.
posted by sparklemotion at 11:10 AM on August 19, 2016

I fly a few times a month for my job and take pills that are not in their original containers regularly. TSA doesn't care in the slightest. If on the extremely off chance that they do decide to give you enhanced screening, just say that it's boric acid capsules you're using as a home remedy for a yeast infection and watch how fast they put that back in your bag and close everything up.
posted by bile and syntax at 11:48 AM on August 19, 2016 [5 favorites]

Another voice saying that I frequently travel with weird, unmarked capsules in ziplocks in my carry-on bags. This may not be your jam, but if questioned, I would launch into a very graphic description of the capsule's use.
posted by quince at 12:49 PM on August 19, 2016 [4 favorites]

I travel a LOT and always have a baggie of random pills on me and TSA has never pulled them out when searching my bags. I just don't think this is really on their radar these days.
posted by joan_holloway at 1:11 PM on August 19, 2016

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