How do I ship carbonated bevvies overseas?
May 26, 2004 4:16 PM   Subscribe

What is the best way to ship carbonated beverages overseas? (In this case it's rootbeer from California to Australia.) Will they explode with the pressure changes?
posted by small_ruminant to Food & Drink (11 answers total)
I don't have an answer, so I apologize, but can I ask what brand rootbeer you're importing? It must be damned good to be worth shipping all that way.
posted by Evstar at 8:55 PM on May 26, 2004

1) Wrap bottle in a couple layers of plastic wrap.
2) Wrap the bottle in packing tape. This is to prevent a broken bottle from cutting stuff.
3) Wrap results in 2 layers of plastic bags.
4) Wrap results in toweling.
5) Pack all this in a box with foam pellets.

The first plastic protects the bottle from the tape. Maybe optional for rootbeer. The bags are to prevent a broken bottle from leaking into other packages. The toweling is to protect everything from leaky plastic bags (don't they always leak a little?).

All that being said, I would have a little concern about the legality of shipping liquid packed in glass bottles. Perhaps you can find your preferred rootbeer in cans? My method was developed for shipping beer.
posted by Goofyy at 9:45 PM on May 26, 2004

If you're concerned about air pressure changes and time isn't a factor, you can always send it surface mail. My impression is that such a package would take about 6-8 weeks to get there, but YMMV.
posted by Johnny Assay at 9:47 PM on May 26, 2004

Cans are more likely to explode, bottles are more likely to break. But in my air travelling / carbonated beverage moving experience, cans are a lot more likely to explode than bottles are to break, assuming the bottles are carefully packed.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:59 AM on May 27, 2004

The first thing you absolutely must check is if your package will be considered a Dangerous Good or not. You need to consult the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code for surface ship transport and the IATA Dangerous Goods Code for air. If you are exempt from the codes, there's no problem. If you do fall under the codes (and I cannot tell from your question), you'll need for someone to arrange shipping for you---you won't be able to sign the shipping documents without a Dangerous Goods certificate.

Your best first step, in my opinion, would be to call The International Compliance Centre. Their US number is 1-888-442-9628. The ICC is incredibly helpful in situations like this. They will provide free advice over the phone and can advise you on what your legal requirements (if any) are far better than I can. If you need it, they'll also sell you the packaging material you need.

I'm not familiar with the US regs, but it can be very difficult to ship pressurized vessels by air. You're probably looking at surface transport. Even if you're don't have to follow dangerous goods shipping codes, many shippers are still leery of transporting odd materials. Remember, no one is obligated to ship your package. Even if you've packaged it correctly and done all the paperwork, a shipper can and will say no to any package. We've had stuff that the shipping agent swore up and down was acceptable sit on runways (literally) for days because the pilots (who make the final decision) refused to carry the goods on their airplane.

I'd check first with your postal service to see what they say. If they won't take the package, your next best bet is FedEx. They're the transporter of choice for small samples of dangerous goods in the US, but also rather expensive.
posted by bonehead at 9:32 AM on May 27, 2004

Also, consider this if you decide to "ship and don't tell": if there is a problem and your package causes a mess, shippers (especially airlines) will agressively come after you for damages. In Canada, if it's a big enough mess, you can also be brought up on charges (I don't know about the US, but I suspect similar). Following CFR 41/TDG regs is all about the shipper assuming liability during transport. It protects you---the shipper---as much as anybody.
posted by bonehead at 9:38 AM on May 27, 2004

D'oh! I meant "you---the sender---" of course, above.
posted by bonehead at 9:39 AM on May 27, 2004

Finally (do I ever shut up?) here's how we ship liquids in glass:

Bottle is sealed and the cap wrapped with Teflon plumber's tape.

Bottle placed in a heavy plastic bag, bag sealed (usually with heat, can use a good tape).

Bottle placed in a paint can filled with absorbent packing materiel (sufficient to fully absorb liquid) like vermiculite.

Paint can is sealed and put in heavy cardboard box. Box is packed with (non-absorbent) styrofoam, as necessary.

Box is sealed with horsehair-glue tape---that's what IATA specifies---and stickered.

That will satisfy most regs for liquids. As mentioned above, ICC (among others) sells kits guaranteed to meet IATA (air) requirements.
posted by bonehead at 10:17 AM on May 27, 2004

I would seal the package so if you had spilliage it would be fully contained. Don't forget, if you're not using US mail; most parcel carriers insure the first $100.00 for free, keep your rootbeer receipt.

you can always send it surface mail.
by boat?
posted by thomcatspike at 10:48 AM on May 27, 2004

With all due respect to bonehead (we're talking root beer, not nitroglycerin, right?) I just stuff my bottles into dirty socks in my suitcase.
Haven't had a bottle break yet.
posted by sixpack at 12:15 PM on May 27, 2004

I did give the industrial strength version, true, but a quick call to ICC would not be out of order, I think. You'ld be surprised at what's considered a dangerous good. Any aerosol, for example.

At 35,000 ft. pressure drops to about 20-25% that of that at sea level. Pop apparently is bottled at 2 to 3 atmospheres pressure, so that's about a 40% over-pressure in the can at altitude.
posted by bonehead at 1:40 PM on May 27, 2004

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