Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: Puget Sound, and Allegheny County (PA)
Bright-like-new earplugs, with inserter!
For the longest time, I've been using foam earplugs, the neon-colored kind. And, being a bit miserly and abhorring waste, I reuse them. This leads to the following difficulty:
After enough reuses, depending upon how clean I keep my ears, the plugs get somewhat dingy looking. When this becomes obvious enough, I discard them and break open some new ones.
Once, I tried washing the foam ear plugs. They looked great but did not work worth diddly-squat because they have a coating which easily washes off too. That coating is what keeps the plug from instantly expanding to its natural shape after being rolled to be made small enough to fit into the ear canal. Without the coating, between the time one stops rolling the plug and the time it begins to enter the ear canal, it is back to full size and will not fit. Drat!
Another problem is that it often takes a few tries to get a rolled (and slightly dingy) ear plug to actually be fully seated into the ear canal. They seem to bend if not inserted just right. It is frustrating to be held up while making multiple attempts. (It's time for a ride, not farting around.)
These troubles must have been stewing in my brain for awhile because, yesterday, just before going out for a ride, inspiration struck. I got a medium diameter plastic straw and cut off about two inches, and made sure it fits into my ear. Then I washed my current set of barely dingy ear plugs. Nice and bright they were, with instant expansion. However, by rolling them right in front of the straw's end, and inserting as I rolled, they went right into the straw. Then, with a two inch length of smaller straw, I could push the plug to the end so that its narrower end pokes out the end a little. Into my ears they went, with the smaller straw in place to eject the plug into my ear canal without the slightest opportunity to expand too much or bend. And they were fully inserted, making a good sound seal (which was not a sure thing without the tool.)
I was overjoyed, having killed two birds with one stone. The evil, anti-earplug-reuse conspiracy is defeated and the non-deterministic insertion problem is solved.
To anybody tempted to poke fun at this: Go right ahead. And don't let anybody tell you motorcyclists are a bit crazy.