How to Make Sand Timers

by Sydelle John

Also known as hourglasses, sand timers are one of the earliest time pieces known to man. Before the creation of clocks and watches, sand timers enabled human beings to keep track of time. Although they are now obsolete, sand timers are still a valuable tool, especially for inquisitive children, who can learn about the importance of time from watching them. Making a sand timer provides both education and excitement.

Items you will need

  • 2 Orangina bottles
  • Pliers
  • Drill
  • Dry sand
  • Funnel
  • Stopwatch
  • Electric tape
  • Stickers
  • Glitter glue
  • Markers for glass or ceramics
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Step 1

Prepare the bottles for configuration. Purchase two glass bottles of Orangina, which contain 10 fluid ounces of orange-based soda. Shaped like a pear, the bottles are well suited for constructing a sand timer. Slowly peel off the blue labels. If you have trouble completely removing the labels, take a sponge and gently rub them off. Empty the bottles, rinse them out and leave them to dry. Remove the blue metallic ring left on the bottle's neck by snipping them with pliers.

Step 2

Use the drill to create a small hole in the bottle's cover caps. Start with the smallest size drill and slowly make the hole larger. Be careful to not make the whole too large or else the sand will eventually run too quickly, making the timer ineffective. The holes in both covers should line up exactly.

Step 3

Pour sand into one bottle with a funnel so the bottle is almost 3/4 full. Allow the sand to dry by leaving it in the sun for at least a day.

Step 4

Place the cover caps over the bottles. Test that the device measures time adequately. Put the empty bottle, cap-first, over the bottle with sand and then seal with electric tape. Flip it over and using the stopwatch, see how long the sand takes to empty out of one bottle. If it takes longer than you like, remove the electric tape and pour out some sand. Continue to test until the device measures anywhere between 1 to 3 minutes at a time.

Step 5

Secure the two bottles with electric tape and decorate them. Check that the electric tape is tightly wrapped around the bottle necks. Apply stickers and glitter glue to the tape. Continue to decorate the bottles with watercolor paint or markers that are suitable for glass or ceramics. The sand timer will be ready to use after the glitter glue on the tape and the paint on the bottles have dried.

Tips & Warnings

  • To save time, prepare the bottles and dry the sand prior to putting the device together.
  • Children should not play with the pliers or drill while making the sand timer. To do so could be dangerous.

About the Author

Sydelle John is a lawyer who started writing professionally in 2007. She has written for the Guardian's Comment is Free and Pambazuka News, which focuses on pan-African issues. John has a Juris Doctor from the George Washington University Law School and a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Vassar College.

Photo Credits

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