Survival uses for aluminum foil

Aluminum or tin foil is perhaps the most versatile item that we have in our kitchens. Tin foil is useful for more than just baking potatoes, and it’s especially handy in emergency situations. Carefully folded tin foil in your survival kit can really make a difference when it comes to saving the day in some unknown wilderness. For those of you who don’t believe that simple, everyday things could save your life one day, here’s a list of creative uses of aluminum foil in case of an emergency. Be sure to take a note!


Aluminum foil
Aluminum foil

Foil can be used multiple times and creates an oven-like environment so you can use it for roasting, steaming, frying. In any survival situation, you would be happy to have some foil to hand with which to prepare some backcountry meal. If you manage to catch a fish in the nearby river or pond, you can make a delicious fish dish with some additional local herbs. You can use the foil to cook whatever’s available at the time, and always have the foil ready for the next time.

Water boiling

Make a square pot with tin foil. You can practice folding with regular paper first and then do it with the foil. This improvised pot will help you boil water for drinking or even do a little bit of cooking inside the pot. When folding, be sure not to make holes in the corners of your new pot. Another way to boil water is to dig a hole in the ground, shape the foil to fit the hole and fill it water. Put some big stones in the fire and then transport them with tongs into the water. It will start boiling right away.

Signal strips

Use aluminium foil to signal your location
Use aluminium foil to signal your location

Cut the foil into strips and hang them around and on tree branches to attract attention. The aluminum foil shines and reflects the sun, so if someone is looking for you, the foil will help to draw attention.

Solar oven

If by any chance you can find a cardboard box while in an emergency, line the inside with some foil and place it in the sun. Put a dark pot inside the box, and think about what you want to cook in your solar oven. The temperature gets high enough to pasteurize water and slow-cook food.


Improvised foil signal mirror
Improvised foil signal mirror

Aluminum foil is shiny enough to use as an improvised signal mirror.


You can use a piece of foil and pine sap to patch water bottles or a hydration bladder. Of course, it won’t resist a lot of water pressure, but it’s a useful temporary solution.

Fishing lures 

Wrap aluminum foil around a fishing hook to make a lure in the shape of a small baitfish. This lure may help you catch your dinner that you can then cook in a bigger piece of foil or in the solar oven.

Block wind

If you have a stove or a small fire, you can use aluminum foil to block the wind.

Collect rainwater

If there is no water body anywhere near you, that’s a problem. If it starts raining and you have some foil you can make a container to collect the rainwater and then use it for cooking or drinking. The bigger the foil surface is, more water you’ll have.

Sharpen scissors

An unusual way to keep your scissors sharp
An unusual way to keep your scissors sharp

Take a sheet of aluminum foil, fold it many times and start cutting. After a while, your scissors will be very sharp.

Stay dry while you sleep

Put some foil between your sleeping bag and the ground to keep moisture away. It’s very uncomfortable to sleep on wet ground and it’s bad for your health. So, the foil can help here too.

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stef-zisovska is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival