Make a Sample Collection Kit

Collecting Microplastics Using a Mason Jar

As part of our study, we wanted to design a functional yet convenient sampling tool that could be easily carried in a reusable grocery bag. Many of the team members utilized public transportation to get to sampling locations, so ease of transport was essential.

The device we designed is easily portable, costs less than $20, and takes less than an hour to construct. Keep scrolling for full materials and instructions on how to make your own sample collection kit.

To make a DIY sample collection jar, all you need are the following:

  • 1 24 oz/600mL Ball-Mason Jar

  • 2 U-shaped metal pipe clamps (.25", but slightly larger or smaller is OK)

  • Gorilla glue (or glue capable of bonding metal)

  • Gorilla tape

  • Cotton rope

  • 100% cotton t-shirt

  • A grommet kit

Full instructions are available in the video below.

To make the sample jar:

  • Bend U-shaped clamps to fit Mason jar outer lid. Sand clamps and lid, then glue and clamp together. Set aside for drying.

  • Lay out and cut T-shirt to wrap entirely around the jar as-shown. Pin fabric around side and bottom to guide sewing lines.

  • Sew seams at pins.

  • Attach strips of Gorilla tape as shown for additional strength.

  • Install grommets using hammer and grommet kit.

  • Run rope of desired length through sleeve, and pull sleeve over jar. Attach lid with U-shaped clamps, and run rope through clamps.

DIY Sieve Prototypes

In our testing, we sampled water using lab-grade metal sieves at 500, 150, and 63 microns, but in the interest of making our methodologies more accessible, we have designed two additional prototypes we hope others will try out and revise. Please note that these sieves have not been field tested yet, and should be considered experimental.

Sieve 1: Mason Jar Lid

With so many Mason jars left over, we wanted to put them to use! For this prototype, we needed the following materials:

  • Wide-Mouth Mason Jar outer lid

  • Metal mesh (different mesh sizes available through Amazon)

  • Tin snips

  • Hot glue

  • Marker

  • Optional: rubber band

Using the inner Mason jar lid as a guide, draw a circle on the mesh to be cut. Carefully cut this out, and glue it to the inside lip of the outer Mason jar lid, making sure that the mesh is flat against the lid in all places.

To make your sieves stack, place a rubber band around the bottom of your new sieve. Use caution when pouring water, as this will form a good, but not water-tight, seal.

Sieve 2: Embroidery Hoops

Someone in your family a fan of embroidery? Great - you already have a key component for making a DIY sieve. All you need is a mesh size of your choice and some string, and you are one-step closer to collecting microplastics! Full instructions are below:

  • Lay all materials on a clean, plastic free surface.

  • Trace the hoop’s outermost dimension onto the mesh

  • Ensure the tracing is clear

  • Cut out the circle of mesh

  • Sandwich the mesh between the two wooden hoops and tighten the screw

  • Once sieves of multiple size mesh are made:

    • Align the sieves from largest mesh to smallest

    • Lay out the cotton string in an x and stack the sieves

    • Carefully place the sieves on top of the string

    • Tie the sieves securely together