August 9, 2022


Self reliance and independence

Tin Cans & Survival

Tin Cans & Survival stoveOne thing most preppers will have on hand is a lot of tin cans leftover from the food they have stockpiled. Before you simply dispose of these, here are a few survival tips that you may not have thought about.

Candle Holder

tin cansTake a tin can and remove the lid on one end. If you wish you can poke a hole in the top edge on two sides and fasten a wire handle through it so you can carry the holder. Punch multiple holes in the sides all the way around the can. Place your candle inside. Use a bit a sap or duct tape to secure the candle so it doesn’t slide around in the bottom of the can if you have to move it.

Bread Pan

4-18-16 04159e1ad41fdb6763db4e8fdf3f6174Use tin cans to bake bread if you don’t have a bread pan. Make sure you include tin can bread recipes in your BOB or INCH bag just in case. Use BPA free cans or condition the cans first by heating them in the fire until the BPA is burned off. Clean the cans out as you would cast iron and then happy bread baking!

Temporary Knife

4-18-16 Figure-6-Cutting-toolsYou can use the sharp edge of a tin can’s lid to cut a lot of things. Bend the top edge of the lid over onto itself, using pliers or by pressing it against a sturdy object. If available, use a very thick layer of duct tape or electrical tape to cover the fold as a double protection to prevent cutting your hand.

As another option, you can fold the lid in half and flex it back and forth until it splits in two sections. Find a sturdy stick that you can split or notch lengthwise on one end. Wedge the piece of tin can lid into the split, wrap with cordage or duct tape and secure it as tightly as you can.

Arrow Head

4-18-16 imagesDon a pair of thick work gloves and remove the can lid. Fold it in two repeatedly until the lid splits into two halves. Take one half and fold that repeatedly. After several splits, you will have pieces the right shape and size to use as an arrow head. Attach to your arrow or even the top of a makeshift spear and happy hunting!

Patch a Hole in a Roof

Use a larger can like maybe a coffee can size. Remove each end and then cut down the side of the can with tin snips. Straighten and flatten the long piece out. For larger holes you can use both the long flattened strip and the flat circular pieces if needed to patch a hole in a roof. Use tar, sap, or some other adhesive substance to fasten the shingles so they hold until you can make a proper repair.

Cup to Drink From

This is an often overlooked use. Remove one end and smooth the edge so there are no jagged pieces that would cut your lip. For a long-term SHTF scenario, you could even dye or paint a set of four or six cans so you have matching cups for your makeshift table.

Improve your Shooting

This is an oldie but goodie that probably everyone has seen before. Line up several tin cans a good distance away and use them as targets to improve your shooting skills. Make sure you consider where bullets might travel if you miss the cans to avoid any accidental injuries or damages.

Shower Head

It’s not ideal but you can make this work in a pinch. Simply remove one end of the tin can and then punch multiple holes in the bottom. Punch one bigger hole in a large bucket and tape it closed or temporarily plug it somehow. Fill the larger bucket with water, warmed by the sun if you wish.

When you are ready to shower, hang the larger bucket from a tree with the tin can shower head dangling under it. Pull the stopper so the water continually drains into the tin can as you shower. Be quick, it won’t last very long!

Signal Mirror

You never know when a signal mirror might come in handy. If you have charcoal or chocolate, polish the lid of a tin can until you can get the light to reflect off of it. Use this to signal a rescue helicopter in the air or ground searchers who might be too far away to notice you gesturing. You can also use it to silently signal other members of your group that danger is approaching.

Fishing Hook

Fold the lid of a tin can in half until it splits and then repeat until you have several smaller pieces. Tie a piece securely to your fishing line. Use the extra pieces of the can to attach to your line near the hook to serve as a lure.

Rocket stove

This is another popular use for tin cans and you will need several of varying sizes. Create a rocket stove as depicted in this video:

Cooking Pot

Remove the lid and place whatever you want to heat inside. Place the can over your heat source. Remember that the can will be extremely hot so use a thick cloth or pot holder to handle it.

Seed Starter Pot

Remove one end of the can, poke small holes along the bottom to allow water to drain through. Fill with dirt and then plant seeds inside. Once plants have begun to root, transplant to your garden or to a larger container.

Tin Can Trap

Remove the top and bury can upright in the ground along an obvious animal trail. Cover with small twigs, leaves, or grass. Unsuspecting insects, field mice, and frogs will scurry along the trail and fall in, unable to crawl out. Several cans strategically placed overnight could result in a decent breakfast.

Carrying Container

Poke a hole in each side at the top edge and fasten a handle out of wire or even string. Use it to collect berries, nuts, or any other small items you may need to forage and then carry back to your campsite.

If you fasten a sturdy wire handle and poke small holes in the sides and bottom of the can itself, you can also use this container to transport coals between stops along your bug out route. Pay careful attention to the coals as you may have to add small sticks, leaves, etc. to keep them burning to the next stop.

Walking Dead Style Intruder Alarm

Remove the end of the tin cans if possible and poke a hole in the tops. Also poke a hole in the top edge of several cans. Use a sturdy string, paracord, or other cordage to string the cans and lids up around the outside perimeter of your temporary campsite. Any person or large animal who approaches will run into the string and the rattle of the cans will alert you.

Hopefully you have prepared well enough that you won’t have to rely on these methods to survive in a post-SHTF scenario but it doesn’t hurt to know how to make the best of what you have when traditional tools are unavailable.  What’s your favorite tin can hack?

Final Word

Truth be told, there are plenty of items with alternative uses that you can focus on. These survival hacks may or may not save your life (the odds are slim if you ask me), but they are fun to try and a great opportunity to bond with your kinds and grandkids.

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