Is Peanut Butter a Liquid? Here’s What TSA Says

March 23, 2023
The Transportation Security Administration has made a stance on whether or not it considers peanut butter a liquid, simultaneously announcing if it can be brought through security in airports.

The Transportation Security Administration ( TSA) has made a stance on whether or not it considers peanut butter a liquid, simultaneously announcing if it can be brought through security in airports.

The conversation began when podcaster Patrick Never tweeted, “I tried to take peanut butter through airport security. TSA: Sorry, no liquids, gels, or aerosols. Me: I want you to tell me which of those things you think peanut butter is.”

The tweet went viral, with almost 150,000 likes and over 1,200 users commenting their opinions on the matter.

TSA then responded.

In a tweet on Tuesday, March 21, TSA stated it considers peanut butter a liquid. Officials have certain regulations when it comes to carrying liquids on airlines: if it’s 3.4 ounces or smaller, it can be put in a carry-on bag, and must be able to fit inside a quart-sized container.

If the liquid’s container is larger than 3.4 ounces, it must be stored in a carry-on bag. Passengers that don’t comply with TSA’s liquids rules may cause a delay in the airport and will require additional screening, TSA stated.

Therefore, TSA said peanut butter containers — which generally range in size from 12 to 18 ounces, and jumbo jars can be as large as 40 ounces — must be packed in checked luggage and can’t be brought in carry-on bags.

“You may not be nuts about it, but TSA considers your PB a liquid,” the tweet said. “In carry-on, it needs to be 3.4oz or less. Make sure all your travel-sized liquids fit in one quart-sized bag. #PeanutButter

TSA also said, “Peanut Butter... a liquid has no definite shape and take a shape dictated by its container.”

MassLive reporter Heather Morrison also furthered the conversation, and asked New England TSA spokesman Dan Velez, “Does it make a difference if it’s smooth or crunchy?”

“Unfortunately, it does not...crunchy peanut butter is treated just like smooth peanut butter,” Velez answered.

Some users on social media were upset by TSA’s declaration, and argued peanut butter was, in fact, a solid.

“So peanut butter is a liquid but scientifically butter is a solid,” user @LMonkey11 with the screen name PMixer commented. “But a PBJ sandwich can go through TSA, only if not too soggy. Clear as mud? Can mud go through TSA or is that considered a liquid? I just confused myself.”

The tweet also included a screenshot of another website with the highlighted section reading, “Butter is mostly saturated fat, that’s why it’s solid at room temperature. Olive Oil is liquid at room temperature, thus it’s an unsaturated fat. An unsaturated fat can be made into a saturated fat via hydrogenation reactions.”

Another user, Lyle Zoerman, with the username @LWRiker, commented, “Even glass is a liquid in a scientific sense. All of the centuries old cathedrals show the glass windows are getting thinner up top and flowing into ticker bottoms. It’s all about viscosity.”

The conversation on liquids and what’s defined as a liquid has been raised with TSA before in 2021, when the officials advised that “any item you can spread, smear, spray or spill” falls under the liquids rule.

#PackSmart! Any item you can spread, smear, spray or spill must be 3.4oz or less in carry-on. This includes sunscreen, beverages and petroleum jelly. Packing smart reduces bag checks and speeds up the screening process for everyone. More questions? @AskTSA right here on Twitter.”

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