Skip to Content

6 Surprising Things TSA Says To Leave Out Of Your Carryon

Share The Article

Last Updated

A recent tweet that has now gone viral has people confused over what they can actually take in a carry-on. 

The tweet, which has gotten over 10.5 million views, describes a man’s experience with airport security confiscating a jar of peanut butter. 

Jokes ensue in the comments as people try to figure out if peanut butter is a liquid, gel, or aerosol. 

This has sparked rumors that peanut butter has been banned on flights, which is not entirely true. 

It is, however, a “spreadable item,” which means it must abide by the same regulations as liquids, gels, and aerosols. 

Many airlines have started serving alternative snacks instead of peanuts due to peanut allergies, but you may still bring both peanuts and peanut butter – as long as the latter is under 3.4 ounces. 

Although it is permitted, you may still want to reconsider purely for the chance that it could cause a medical emergency that would delay your flight.

Snack packages on a Southwest flight

What Is A Liquid?

According to the Transportation Security Administration, “a liquid has no definite shape and takes a shape dictated by its container.”

Creams, pastes, gels, aerosols, and liquids that fit this description must all be in containers that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or smaller. 

These must then all fit in a quart-sized bag.  These requirements are also known as the “3-1-1 rule.” 

While most travelers are aware of this rule, it’s still surprising to find out some of the items that fall into the “liquid/gel” category.

Top 5 Travel Insurance Plans For 2023 Starting At $10 Per Week

Easily Earn Points For Free Travel

A carryon suitcase with travel-sized liquids in a plastic bag

Here are some of the surprising items you will need to limit in your carryon:

1. Spreadable Foods

 A majority of this list comes from food products that walk the line between a liquid and a solid, such as “spreadable” foods. 

Peanut butter falls under this label, as does hummus, guacamole, jams and jellies, and other dips or spreads. 

Creamy cheeses, such as brie, also fall under the 3-1-1 rule. 

While it may not be difficult to keep these items to a minimum as airport or plane snacks, if you plan to bring home a jar of authentic maple syrup or some Texas barbecue sauce from your trip, you’ll want to pack those in your checked bag. 

It’s also important to consider that if you are flying internationally, many fruits and vegetables are prohibited to prevent invasive plant pests.  This is also true for flights from Hawaii, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands to the mainland U.S.    

Man going through airport security

2. Some Makeup Items

Travelers are usually conscious of their toiletries when it comes to the liquids rule. 

There are travel-sized containers for your shampoo and conditioner, and you can buy travel-sized sunscreen, hairspray, and deodorant. 

However, makeup may not come to mind.  Concealer, foundation, lip gloss, and even mascara are all items that must follow the 3-1-1 rule. 

Although most makeup items are typically far beneath 3.4 ounces, technically, they all still need to fit in the quart-sized bag. 

So if you plan on bringing a lot of makeup, you may want to consider putting the majority of it in your checked bag. 

Another thing to know – any large quantities of powder-like substances could raise red flags and may need to be screened separately.

A person putting a plastic bag with makeup items into an airport security bin

3. Certain Toys

Any toy that resembles an actual weapon is not allowed for obvious reasons. 

TSA also specifically lists slingshots and foam toy swords as prohibited items but states that water guns (without water) and nerf guns are okay. 

Two other very specific mentions are light sabers and Harry Potter wands – these are both allowed onboard the plane. 

Play-doh, which you might now consider a liquid/gel item, is actually not and is allowed onboard as well. 

TSA officer searching someone's luggage at the airport

4. Snow Globes

This popular souvenir will have to risk a journey home in your checked bag unless it is small enough to abide by the 3-1-1 rule.  

Even if it’s small enough, it also still needs to fit in the quart-sized bag with all of your toiletries. 

TSA maintains that regardless of the rules, the discretion is up to the officer.

5. Musical Instruments

If you’re planning on bringing a guitar, violin, or other instruments that meets the size requirements, it’ll have to undergo additional inspection. 

Brass instruments, however, must be checked.  It’s best to check with the airline ahead of time to make sure you understand exactly what you must do to get your instrument to your destination.

Luggage getting x-rayed at the airport

6. Candles

Gel-type candles are prohibited in a carry-on, regardless of size.  However, TSA does state that solid candles are okay. 

Still, there have been reports of candles being confiscated at security.  To be safe, it would be best to pack all candles in your checked bag.   


There are always exceptions to every rule, and the 3-1-1 rule is no different. 

Baby food, formula, puree pouches meant for toddlers, and breastmilk are all permitted in “reasonable quantities.” 

They do not need to be less than 3.4 ounces or fit into a quart bag.  Ice and gel packs for breast milk or for medical needs also get a pass. 

These are all considered “medically necessary liquids,” right along with liquid medicine, insulin, and inhalers. 

Although these are permitted, they do need to be declared to TSA officers for screening.

↓ Join Our Community ↓

The Travel Off Path Community FB group has all the latest travel news, conversations, and Q&A's happening daily! 


Enter your email address to subscribe to Travel Off Path's latest breaking travel news, straight to your inbox.

This article originally appeared on

Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.


Sunday 2nd of April 2023

i can't pass the controls with a 300ML shampoo bottle so i empty the bottle in THREE smaller 100ML bottles and after security check, i refill my empty 300ML bottle from the 3 smaller 100ml So YES, you can bring on the plane your 300ML shampoo

Reg Mason

Friday 31st of March 2023

Yet last thanksgiving they allowed homemade Mac and Cheese.


Thursday 30th of March 2023

Idiotic policy, made by idiots and enforced by even bigger idiots. Yes so dangerous so we are going to throw it all in the bin right here where everyone is standing. Oh and the whole thing is predicated on an British spy agency lie. But everyone just takes it...


Saturday 8th of April 2023

@TT, Bingo. It's all B.S

Francis Williams

Thursday 30th of March 2023

Thanks for the Heads-Up Travelers need this to be well-informed

Michael Z, NYC

Thursday 30th of March 2023

The TSA has been up and down the ladder on what is permitted in a carry-on and what isn't permitted. It's not easy to keep up with their restrictions. Airline passengers have a lot of expensive property confiscated and who knows where it ends up at the end of the day? Maybe it's time for the TSA to mandate all airlines to distribute to every passenger their Do's & Don'ts for carry-on luggage to passengers when they book their flight Online, check-in at the airport before they check in their other luggage to be stored in the belly of their flight.