Shippers provide guidelines to help you prepare your package for shipping. Generally, this is to ensure that your package arrives at the destination in good condition and that the contents do not inadvertently destroy other packages or violate federal regulations. Some provide instructions specifically for shipping bottles, especially those containing liquid, and recommend specific packing materials. However, you can improvise with items you might already have if they are sturdy enough to protect your bottles.
The cardboard box you select for packaging should be strong enough to withstand any rough treatment during shipping. The strength would depend on its walls. Sturdy shipping boxes typically have corrugated walls, ranging in thickness from one to three layers. You might be able to obtain such a box, free, from local retailers, or you could purchase one from a shipper. You can protect the glass bottles from impact with material such as styrofoam peanuts, bubble wrap, newspapers or shredded paper. Keep in mind that the weight of the material will increase the cost of shipment, so light packing materials are best.
The bottom flaps of the box should be securely closed. For additional security, seal them with strips of packing tape or duct tape. If the soda bottles are filled, shippers recommend lining the box with a plastic bag, such as a trash bag. The bag will contain liquid if a bottle breaks and prevent damage to surrounding packages. Cover the bottom of the box with a two- to four-inch layer of your chosen packing material to cushion the bottom of the bottles.
A wrapping around each bottle would minimize impact if the bottles touch during shipping. Use a sheet of bubble wrap, a thin sheet of foam or packing paper. The material should completely surround the top, bottom and sides of the bottles with a thickness of about 2 inches. Secure the wrapping with strips of tape.
Empty bottles can lie sideways in the box, on top of the layer of packing materials, or stand upright. Filled bottles must be upright. Because the bottles can shift during shipping, shippers recommend tightly packing the spaces around them, as well as the top, with your chosen packing material. The top of the box should be closed and sealed with tape. You could also place this box inside a bigger box for additional protection. If you do this, ensure that the smaller box is tightly packed with material around the sides, at the bottom and on top. The top of the bigger box also should be securely sealed with tape. Write "Fragile" on the sides of the package. You can request special handling when you hand it to a shipper.
An alternative method of packing your soda bottles is to use packaging containers specially designed for shipping bottles. A packing container must be sturdy enough to hold the glass bottles securely and apart from each other, to prevent breakage. Some shippers sell polystyrene and corrugated cardboard packaging that has been specially designed for glass bottles. These containers hold the bottles in separate partitions and cushion them from impact.