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In Airport Security Q&A, we provide a basic breakdown of TSA carry-on rules and security checkpoint do’s and don’ts. Still, we continue to receive scores of e-mails from justifiably confused travelers whose specific questions about all manner of packed possessions fall into the gray areas of TSA rules.

Here’s a medley of our latest reader e-mails, with answers provided by IndependentTraveler.com Editor Sarah Schlichter. Got your own burning airport security question? E-mail us or post your question in the comments, and we’ll do our best to solve your problem.

jalapenosQ: May I bring a 3-ounce can of jalapenos? I would take it in my carry-on.

A: I assume that your can of jalapenos would have some liquid in it, so as long as it’s smaller than 3.4 ounces and you put it in your single clear, quart-size, zip-top plastic bag with your other liquids and gels, you should be fine.

saucepanQ: Can I carry a 1.5-quart saucepan in my carry-on luggage?

A: As long as the sauce pan is empty, it’s no problem to bring it in your carry-on.

trail mixQ: I would like to carry chips, a 12-ounce bag of trail mix and a 12-ounce bag of chocolate bars. Will I be able to pass through security? I’m going to Barcelona.

A: Since those foods are solid items, you shouldn’t have a problem at security. But many countries have restrictions on nuts, seeds, fruits and other similar items, so you may want to contact the Spanish embassy before your trip to see whether your foods will be acceptable to bring into the country.

bug sprayQ: Can I take cockroach insecticide in my carry-on or in my checked luggage?

A: The TSA doesn’t permit aerosol insecticides in carry-on or checked bags. If the insecticide is in non-aerosol form, it should be okay to bring it in your checked luggage; however, if you want to bring it in your carry-on, it must adhere to the TSA’s liquid and gel rules. You may bring a non-aerosol container no larger than 3.4 ounces, and it must be in a quart-size plastic bag with other liquids and gels.

yogurtQ: Can you bring a container of yogurt through security?

A: Because yogurt is a gel-like substance, it is subject to the TSA’s 3.4-ounce limit; if your container is that size or smaller, you may put it in your single clear, quart-size, zip-top plastic bag with your other liquid/gel items to get it through the checkpoint. Otherwise, you’ll need to wait to purchase yogurt once you get into the secure part of the airport.

tiger lilyQ: I am traveling to California next week and want to bring flowers with me. Are they permissible (tiger lilies)?

A: Assuming you’re traveling from another location within the United States, it’s fine to bring along the flowers. If you’re coming into the U.S. from another country, you will most likely have issues at Customs, as there are restrictions on plants and other agricultural products when crossing international borders. You can contact the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol if you have further questions.

— written by Caroline Costello and Sarah Schlichter

15 Responses to “Snacks, Saucepans & Sprays: Your Airport Security Questions Answered”

  1. Imelda says:

    Can I bring steam mop in my checked in luggage?

  2. Hi Imelda,

    If you put this item in your checked luggage, I don’t think you would have a problem with security, but you may want to contact your airline to be sure the mop will fit within its size limitations for checked bags.

    Happy travels,

    Sarah Schlichter

  3. Laura says:

    A can of 5 oz of hairspray can pass security????

    • Hi Laura,

      A five-ounce can of hairspray would not make it through security in your carry-on because it’s larger than the 3.4-ounce liquid/gel limit. You would need to bring a smaller can or put it in your checked bag.

      Happy travels,

      Sarah Schlichter

  4. Christine says:

    I’m flying from the US to the Bahamas. Grocery store access will be limited. Can I pack vacuum sealed tuna in my carry-on? Packs are 2.6oz and say “no draining” on them so I assume there isn’t any liquid that will leak. I am bringing a dozen packs so it would stink if I had to toss them at the checkpoint. Thank you.

    • Hi Christine,

      Sorry we missed this comment when it was posted. We may be too late for your trip, but for the benefit of anyone else who sees this question — I’d put your 2.6-ounce packs of tuna into your quart-size bag along with other liquids and gels.

      Happy travels,

      Sarah Schlichter
      Senior Editor

  5. Ted says:

    I have a external cathether (9oz) what is the policy for getting through

    • Hi Ted,

      Anything that’s medically necessary is permitted through the checkpoint, even if it doesn’t meet the liquid/gel rules. Just declare your catheter when you get to the checkpoint. Bringing a medical notification card or a doctor’s note can’t hurt. Note that you may have to undergo extra screening if the TSA feels it’s necessary (such as a pat-down).

      Happy travels,

      Sarah Schlichter
      Senior Editor

  6. sophia says:

    can i bring a pasta pot and severing bowl?

    • Hi Sophia,

      Thanks for commenting. I’m guessing you mean serving bowl — and if so, you shouldn’t have any problem bringing it or a pasta pot on a plane as long as they’re empty. If you’re bringing food, you may want to see the TSA’s guidelines for traveling with food.

      Happy travels,

      Sarah Schlichter
      Senior Editor

  7. Yelena says:

    Hi, so this upcoming monday we will be going to Hawaii fro Oregon. I wanted to put a 26 oz trail mix in my carry on bag, is that ok? or should i pack it into the suitcase.

  8. Domagoj says:

    Can I bring airtight bag of Balkan coffee on a plane?

  9. Eliza says:

    I’m flying from San Jose, CA to San Diego, CA then driving across the border to Mexico. Will chocolate bars be any problems at any of these stops? These chocolate bars do have caramel, so i don’t know if it counts as a gel?

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