Top survival uses for tin cans

If nothing else a cans can be made into a fun game
If nothing else a cans can be made into a fun game

One of the most essential food items that any prepper or survivalist must have is canned food (such as canned beans), which as the name implies are most commonly sold in tin cans.

But after you eat the food, throwing away the tin cans is the very last thing you should do. On the contrary, those ordinary tin cans will serve you in a multitude of different ways.

Here are the top ten survival uses for tin cans:

Storage and Organization

Since your tins cans are already used for storing and organizing the food that came in them, why can’t you continue to use them for this same purpose after you’ve eaten the food?

There are a variety of things you can store in your tin cans, including more food, water, cooking utensils, herbs and spices, sand, fire starters, and so on. The only limit to what you can store in a tin can is your imagination (and the size of the items being stored of course).


You can easily use an ordinary tin can to trap small grubs such as bugs or frogs that you can then eat. All you need to do is to bury your tin can in the ground with the open exposed. Cover the opening with leaves (or nothing at all), and check up on them the next day to see if you caught anything.

Transporting Fire

One of the most overlooked survival skills of all time is to carry fire with you as you travel. This way, you don’t have to worry about putting a fire together when you arrive at your campsite of choice because you already have a fire with you. This allows you to immediately focus on other tasks such as building a shelter or finding water.

Of course, you want to carry fire safely as you travel through the woods, and one of the safest options of all is to carry it in a tin can. All you need to do is place hot coals into the can with a little bit of kindling. Even if you don’t have flames going, you should at least have smoke and embers. When it’s time to build a fire, simply add more fuel and blow on it to turn those embers into a flame.


Use a wire handle to hang your tin can over a fire and it will make for an excellent makeshift cooking pot. You can cook anything such as meat, soup, coffee and boil your essential water.

Water Filter

Use a knife or a pointed edge to puncture a few holes in the bottom of your tin can. Then fill up the tin can with layers of charcoal, sand, pebbles, and grass, with each layer being roughly a half inch to an inch in depth.

Pour water through the opening of the can and it will filter out through the holes and into your clean cup. While this won’t kill bacteria (boiling is required for that), it will get rid of much of the visible harmful substances.

Alarm System

Use wire, string, paracord or even a vine to set up a perimeter around your campsite, about knee height at the most. Then, attach your tin cans at strategic points along the perimeter and fill those cans up with pebbles. When the wire or paracord is struck, the cans will rattle, and you’ll be alerted to any possible intruders.


This is easy. If you don’t have a shovel, just use a tin can as an alternative.


This could be herbs, potatoes or any other edibles
This could be herbs, potatoes or any other edibles

This trick works well for small plants. Simply wash out the can and then fill it up with soil. Plant any seed of your choice and then leave it in an area of exposed sun and give it water regularly for it to sprout.

Make Fishhooks

Shape the ring pull into a fishing hook
Shape the ring pull into a fishing hook

When improvising your own fishing gear, you need something that you can use as fishhooks. Simply cut out a piece of tin can and bend it into the shape of a hook with a pointed edge. Tie it to the end of your fishing line, and that point, all you need to do is stab some bait onto the end of the hook to being fishing.

The ring pulls are particularly good as a base for making fishing hooks.


Candle Lamp – make yours with a tin can
Candle Lamp – make yours with a tin can

Cut a square shaped hole into the side of your tin can. Set a candle inside of it and make sure it’s turned away from the wind. The ensuring lamp will provide you with both lighting and warmth.

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nick-oetken is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival