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13+Empty Tin Can Uses for Survival: A Prepper’s Guide

In the world of prepping, the ability to transform everyday objects into life-saving tools is invaluable. Often overlooked, empty tin cans can be repurposed in numerous ways to bolster your survival kit, ensuring you’re prepared for any situation.


Below is a detailed guide on how to convert empty tin cans into practical survival items.

1 Tin Can Cooking Stove

Convert a tin can into a portable stove by cutting small holes around the bottom for airflow and a larger opening on the side to feed in fuel, such as small twigs or alcohol pads. This setup is ideal for heating food or boiling water while on the go.


2 Lantern

Create a makeshift lantern by cutting slits or holes in a tin can and placing a candle inside. The metal will reflect and amplify the candlelight, useful for signaling at night or lighting up your campsite.


3 Tin Can Mini Charcoal Grill

Make a mini grill by punching several holes in the bottom of a large tin can for ventilation and filling it with charcoal. This is perfect for cooking small items like fish or sausages at a temporary survivalist camp.

4 Water Filtration System

Use a tin can to pre-filter sediments from water before purification by punching holes in the bottom and layering it with cloth, sand, and charcoal. This helps reduce debris and improve water clarity.

Follow our steps on how to make your own water filter.

5 Use An Empty Tin Can to Sanitize Water

In a survival situation, start by filling a tin can with water and then place it over a heat source. See how to build a fire.

Next, bring the water to a rolling boil and keep it boiling for at least one minute to effectively kill most pathogens, ensuring the water is safe to drink.

To ensure water is safe to drink, the CDC recommends boiling water for one minute at elevations below 6,500 feet, and for three minutes at higher altitudes. Use a tin can as your boiling vessel.


6 Improvised Shovel

Flatten a tin can and fold it to create a makeshift shovel for tasks like burying waste, digging fire pits, or creating drainage trenches around tents.

7 Cutting Blades From Empty Tin Cans

Transform a tin can into metal strips to craft crude cutting tools. Sharpen these on a stone to cut cordage, prepare bait, or handle other tasks requiring a sharp edge.

8 Fishing Hooks

Fashion fishing hooks from small pieces of a tin can. Cut into hook shapes, smooth the edges, and attach to fishing line or improvised plant fiber lines.

9 Seedling Pots

In long-term survival scenarios, grow your own food using cleaned tin cans as seedling pots. Punch drainage holes in the bottom, fill with soil, and plant your seeds.


10 Noise Alarms

Create a perimeter alarm by stringing several tin cans together and hanging them around your camp. They’ll produce noise when disturbed, alerting you to wildlife or intruders.

11 Storage Containers

Use tin cans to store and protect small items like matches, batteries, or fishing lines from the elements, keeping them organized and dry.


12 Reflective Signaling Device

The shiny inside of a tin can serves as an effective mirror-like signaling device to catch the attention of rescuers from afar.

13 Fire Starters

We make our own Fire Starter Ropes and Char Cloth and use empty tin cans to melt the wax or pine tar. Build you a small fire, add wax or pine tar in the can to melt, then add your fire starter rope.

Additional Uses For Empty Tin Can

This list, while extensive, is by no means exhaustive. Here are some additional for empty cans in survival situations.

  • Traps: use tin cans to set bait traps for frogs, insects, or small rodents, which can be used for food or bait for larger game.
  • Arrowheads
  • Roofing or Roof Patches
  • Drinking Cups
  • Wind Break for Fires
  • Transport Coals
  • Bird Feeders

Repurposing Empty Tin Cans for Survival

These inventive uses for empty tin cans showcase the importance of creativity and handiwork in survival situations.

By repurposing what might seem like trash, you can significantly enhance your survival capabilities.

Effective prepping is about leveraging available resources and knowing how to improvise with what you have.

Do you have any survival ideas for tin cans I didn’t mention? Post them in the comments to share with others.