I have little sauce bottles of about 40 milliliters (photo below). At any given instance I have about 40 such bottles which need to be shaken in an up-and-down motion so the ingredients in the bottle are thoroughly mixed. How do I automate such a thing?

I have tried to hold one of the bottles in a rather big clothesline clip with the 'ear' end of it in a hammer impact drill machine, but that provides a circular motion of the bottle instead of an up-and-down motion. Same result if I hold the top of the bottle in the drilling machine, resulting in a "concrete mixer" kind of action, thus further separating the ingredients instead of mixing them up.

I have seen a guy in a YouTube video use a sawzall, which I don't have. Even if I manage to get one, it will be very time-consuming to zip tie each bottle and shake it and then repeat the process. Could do 4 bottles at one go I suppose.

Sauce bottles look something like this

Edit : The content in the bottles is Propylene Glycol and Vegetable Glycerin

  • Consider giving some detail on what is inside them that needs mixing. They're may be alternative techniques based on the substance. For example, cocoa is best mixed as a large amount of powder with a very small amount of liquid first. Initial dissolving of cocoa is very slow but as the concentration of cocoa in liquid rises it makes dissolving easier, which is why using a small volume of liquid is better;it more rapidly reaches the concentration point where the cocoa dissolves easily. After a thick/rich/strong cocoa "syrup" is made it easily dissolves in a larger volume of liquid
    – Caius Jard
    Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 7:55
  • @CaiusJard updated. The content in the bottles is Propylene Glycol and Vegetable Glycerin Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 8:00
  • I'd like to understand something please. When you shake the contents, do they remain mixed? Or are you trying to shake it up to temporarily mix it together just before use, like a bottle of vinaigrette? So is it best to shake a batch of them at once, or shake one of them quickly when it's needed?
    – Lefty
    Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 8:19
  • @Lefty They do remain mixed for a while (couple of days) - so am looking to do this every couple of days so that the flavours steep appropriately. Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 10:36
  • 1
    How much does each need shaking? Like a couple of shakes each way up, or sustained agitation? If it is a short time, by the time you have loaded each of them into a shaking jig and unloaded them, they could have been given a quick shake. Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 15:00

7 Answers 7


Your solution can be as simple as two muffin tins in an appropriate size. small muffin tin
As you fill each plastic sauce bottle, put it into the muffin tin.
When the muffin tin is full, put another tin upside down over the top to hold the bottles in place.

Pick up the whole thing and shake it a few times and all the containers' contents will be ready. You should be able to hold the assembly together with your hands using your fingers for the bottom tray and your thumbs to hold the top as you shake.

Use the muffin tin as a dispenser if you want. They are ready to be re-shaken by putting the top back on and re-shake as necessary, when necessary.

Muffin tins come in all sizes and shapes. You can use as many as you need for batches. You only need an extra empty muffin tin to use as a top for when you must shake or re-shake the bottles which remain clearly visible in the tray.

Good luck.

  • Now we just need some sort of contraption to shake the whole muffin tin! Commented Jul 13, 2020 at 16:15

There are people who build their own shakers and from the looks of it, all you need is a motor (or a tool like a drill), a wheel and an arm with a joint that translate the rotation into oscillation.

Have a look at some Youtube videos of people who crafted a shaker from scratch:

Then there are other machines with oscillating motions that you can convert into a shaker:

Handheld sewing machine shaker

Pepper grinder mixer

And of course there are ready-made products for this purpose, for example nail polish shakers, as reviewed in this video.

Nail polish shaker

Which reminds me of those face cleansing brushes, that could also be adapted to hold and shake bottles. Make sure you get the oscillating kind, there are also ones that rotate or just vibrate.

Face cleansing brush


Even a large number of 40ml bottles will weigh less than a load of wet washing, and I presume the lid is very secure (I guess it must be to give you confidence to attach them to a sawzall) you could consider putting batches of them all in a tumble drier on cool cycle. Maybe put some towels in there too, to soften the blows on the drum and to catch any spillages.

If you find they're still pounding the drum too much see if you can obtain a length of foam that is as wide as the drum is deep and as long as the circumference of the drum, then fit the foam around the circle of the drum before loading the bottles.. or put them inside several layers of pillow cases or other soft bag-like things and tie the bags closed

The more of them you load, the less they pound the drum (the ones at the top don't fall as far before landing on another bottle rather than whacking the drum) - maybe give a go empty first

  • Wouldn't chucking the bottles in a washing machine just toss the bottles around (in a circular manner) - giving the effect of a concrete mixer type of a thing? I have tried that already via a drill - and it isn't the result I am after (shaking the bottle up and down) Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 8:01
  • 1
    No. I'm not advocating putting them on a spin cycle, which would work like a centrifuge and separate the contents.. I'm advocating a slow tumble which will bash the bottles against each other, bashing the contents against the sides (which is what shaking is). Spinning the bottles at high speed in a drill as you did is a centrifuge too. The hammer action on a drill is millimetres of movement; even if you can turn the rotation of your drill off, the hammer action will be vibration, not mixing.Put some empty bottles in a TUMBLE DRYER or side loading washer on SLOW WASH NOT SPIN to see what I mean
    – Caius Jard
    Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 8:09

If you have to shake those bottle only once, do it manually.

If you have to do that every day, then it is more convenient to build an "agitating" rig. Attach a platform to 4 wheels, eccentrically (like a cart, but with wheels not centered). The eccentricity doe not need to be big - maybe 2-3 cm should be enough. Secure the bottles on the platform with another piece of board on the top.

Rotate one wheel - the entire setup will rotate up-dow, in a circular motion. To break the circular movement in the bottles, alternate the rotation direction.

To make it easier, attach a small motor. It will do the rotation for you, much faster.

enter image description here

The violet spots are the fixation points of the wheels and are in the center of the wheels. The red spots are the spots where the platform attaches to the wheels - and they are off-center.


Pack all the bottles securely in a box. Shake the box.

Forty 40ml bottles will only weigh a few pounds, and unless these bottles need serious shaking, an automated rig seems like overkill - surely you can spend 1 minute every few days shaking a box of bottles? If you do need to shake them longer and your arms are getting tired, consider other means of shaking - perhaps you could bounce the box on your knees while you watch TV, or toss the box in a backpack and go for a jog with it.


You indicate you have a drill.. if you have a hand whisk too:

enter image description here

You can clamp it in the drill and use it to mix the sauce in a large container and then pour (or spoon) it into the bottles

  • How do you fit that whisk inside a 40ml bottle?!
    – virolino
    Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 8:27
  • Well, that whisk is just a picture so you use an image resizing program to make it smaller! :) Joking aside.. see the part where I said "in a large container then pour" ...
    – Caius Jard
    Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 8:30
  • 1
    ps; mixing larger batches also minimizes measuring errors in the proportion. If the ratio is 1:39 then it is faster and more accurate to measure and mix 100:3900 and pour into 100 bottles than it is to measure 1:39 a hundred times and try and mix them
    – Caius Jard
    Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 8:35

Chemical labs use devices made for this purpose. They're called shakers and they're available in many variations.

You can also get paint shakers, which will be cheaper but may need to be adapted to hold multiple small bottles instead of a paint can.

  • I am looking for a similar thing - just dont want to pay for a lab rated shaker that is supposed to do things in a lab env Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 11:25
  • there are non-lab rated shakers as well.
    – Hobbes
    Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 11:38

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