Add to GuideAsk a Question
To Top

Reusing Tin Cans

Category Reusing
Reusing cans is another option to recycling them; there are many creative new uses for these containers. This is a guide about reusing tin (steel) cans.


Share on ThriftyFunThis guide contains the following solutions. Have something to add? Please share your solution!

September 23, 2008

I just made a discovery and have got to share it. I have been wishing for a gadget to hold my Zip Lock Freezer Bag open while I fill it. I thought about the tin can and went to my recycling bin and pulled out a 28 oz. Hunt's Tomato can.

I cut the bottom out, washed it good and gave it a try. It works great and makes putting stuff in the bag much easier. It fits perfectly down into the quart size bag and can be used on the gallon size bag also. This can will go in my utility drawer now.

By Betty from NC

Comment Was this helpful? 12
January 22, 20120 found this helpful

Thanks everybody. I hope you enjoy your can as much as I have enjoyed mine.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
Read More Comments

By 2 found this helpful
May 4, 2017

While doing any DIY project, organization is key. When you take off the hardware to paint furniture you do not want to lose the hardware. You can use recycled aluminum cans to place the hardware in them until the time comes to reassemble.

Comment Was this helpful? 2

By 3 found this helpful
January 25, 2008

One of the ways I recycle is by burying my steel cans in my garden, I leave the bottoms on and I bury them about 12 in. deep open side up. I fill the canned with compost and then plant above it. If I'm doing row planting, I will bury a roll of cans and plant above them. The cans will eventually rust away after a couple of years and in the process add much-needed iron to my clay soil.

I also take 1 gallon cans cut off the bottom and put them on the surface of the ground between my tomato plants, I push them in about an inch or so, then I fill them about half full with fresh compost and use this for watering. I fill it up with water and it slowly trickles through. We're in another drought here in Southern California.

By Babette from Lemon Grove

Comment Was this helpful? 3
By guest (Guest Post)
January 31, 20080 found this helpful

Congratulations for winning the contest!

San Diego, CA

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
Read More Comments

By 9 found this helpful
August 3, 2010

I needed small cake pans, but didn't have any, so I grabbed some empty tuna cans. They are just the right size for mini cake pans.

By duckie-do from Cortez, CO

Comment Was this helpful? 9
August 11, 20100 found this helpful

How many tuna cans does a 2-layer cake recipe take. This would be so good, but I need to know what I'm getting into (I only love tuna SO much). Thanks

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
Read More Comments

February 23, 2010

I keep all my food cans for recycling. Some I keep and decorate with paint, stickers, ribbons, and etc. I use them for organizing small items.

Comment Was this helpful? 11

April 25, 2007

Sparkle Organizer

CommentPin It! Was this helpful? 2

The photo does not do this project justice, but it's an organizer that is very easy to make, uses materials you already have on hand, is very nice to look at, and best of all will help your kids keep their things in order.


April 27, 2011

When using the coffee plastic cans or even the metal ones, I make cookie cottages out of them, and give them as gifts, with home made goodies inside.

Comment Was this helpful? 1

By 1 found this helpful
May 26, 2008

I would just like to have you post the following in response to the recipes I have seen here that call for using empty food cans that are on this site:

Comment Was this helpful? 1

By 1 found this helpful
August 17, 2010

Call or go to any tennis club and ask then to save the empty tennis ball containers for you. Wash them out and use for almost anything. I use them for leftover cereal. They are air tight and have a good seal so they keep out bugs.

Comment Was this helpful? 1

January 31, 2007

Recycle Cans and Packaging Into Storage Containers - decorated with M & M wrappers.

CommentPin It! Was this helpful? Yes

Take your empty can and rinse it out with soap and water. Let air dry. Find anything you're not using and cover the front. I used juice pouches to match the purse.


By 0 found this helpful
November 3, 2006

Remember making these when we were young? This is a great indoor craft to do when it's too cold or raining outside for the little ones to play.

Comment Was this helpful? Yes


Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

March 11, 20020 found this helpful

How do you use tin cans other than recycling them. Ideas can include craft ideas or anything else you can think of. Please specify type or size of can.

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
March 21, 20020 found this helpful

When I plant my veggie garden, I use coffee cans (both ends removed) around tender plants like tomatoes, peppers, etc. to protect them from cold nights. When plants get larger it keeps the water at the roots of the plants.

- Nancy

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
January 21, 20030 found this helpful

I have used the tuna cans (discard the sharp-edged lid and make a plastic circle from another plastic lid of some type for the beginning of a new lid) to make a hinge-lid container for trinkets. I was trying out new crochet stitches and chose the popcorn stitch to make the lid (rather the effect of milk glass) by punching holes around the edge of the plastic and just going in rounds until it was domed with a bit of stuffing to keep it in form and finished off with a little knob (the last popcorn stitch). The bottom was just started with a circle of crochet that grew to the size of my can, then decreased to make it snug on the sides, finishing off a little tighter at the rim and attaching the lid. The bottom was simple single crochet. Judy, Missouri

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
January 23, 20030 found this helpful

I bought some unique Christmas ornaments a few years back that were made out of the 6oz. tuna cans. Someone had spray painted them a shiny (1) red & (1) green. They'd taken a white powder laundry soap, dampened it enough to make a paste they put this in the tuna can (while standing on it's side), made it look like a snow drift. When it dried, it hardened. They then hot glued tiny snowmen and miniature wrapped gifts in 1 of them. The other one has a miniature Christmas tree complete with tiny weiny ornaments & the miniature wrapped gifts underneath. Both tuna cans have a small strip of red ribbon hot glued to the top for hanging. These are the cutest little ornaments I have purchased. Anyone who is crafty, these should be a breeze. The lady said she didn't hardly have any amount of money in the preparation of these.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
Read More Answers

July 20, 20040 found this helpful

I am going to be using tin cans from veggies and such for some crafts, and I can't seem to get the glue from the wrappers off, I was wondering if anyone had any ideas on what to use that is very inexpensive to buy?

Cali in GA

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
By guest (Guest Post)
October 23, 20040 found this helpful

Just run them under hot water as you pull gently, it comes right off!

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
February 6, 20150 found this helpful

Use a mixture of cooking oil and baking soda as an alternative to Goo Gone.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
April 6, 20170 found this helpful

Try using wd 40 (spray outdoors) or try asatone

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
Read More Answers

February 7, 20010 found this helpful

What are some frugal, creative and/or crafty uses for tin cans?

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
February 8, 20010 found this helpful

Take the labels off, fill with water and freeze. When frozen punch hole in whatever design desired with an ice pick or tool used for punching holes. When water is emptied, dry can, fill bottom with sand, set a tealight candle into sand. Makes a nice luminary for your porch. If you have a lot of cans, use them to outline the driveway for a party. - Lisa - NPR,FL

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
February 10, 20010 found this helpful

Cut an x in the bottom of A #10 can and push the points up.Then place A pipe over the hole.Then fill with sawdust and pack tightly. You can then pull the pipe out,wad some paper up and stick it in the hole.Light it & it will burn hot for A long time. If you put notches ic the top edge you can put a pan on it and cook or fry. I have done this many times.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
May 26, 20040 found this helpful

My grandmother used to use cans (soda pop cans mostly) to make the COOLEST hats. (baseball style).

She would punch holes in the edges of cut out cans (with tin snips) and then crochet them together. very cool hats. Also an old game you play at night needs a can. Open a can leaving the lid partially attached and place a stone in it so that it rattles loudly when kicked. This game is a "hide and seek" game at night where when you run to base you "Kick the can". Kick the can is the name of the game. LOTS of fun. Gotta teach my kids that one When the game is over because someone has been found someone yells "All ye All ye in come free!!". Gotta play this one. Never too old.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
Read More Answers


ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

February 23, 20100 found this helpful

I have many cans (formula cans, coffee cans, slim-fast cans). I would love to do something using the cans with my 2 1/2 year old son. Some are metal and some are the foil covered cardboard. I also have kept baby food jars? I would like ideas for him to make and be able to use and that he could make for gifts.

Thanks - Lisa


Cans, cans, cans

About the cans, you can cover them with colored paper and make flower vases out of them also for the baby food jars get some stickum and put little artificial flowers in the lid fill them with water and put lid back on tight. Then turn them over for a cute little nick nack. (02/17/2001)

By snickers689

Cans, cans, cans

For metal cans, hammer them down and paint. Then hammer one hole in each one, string up at different lengths with fishing line or whatever you have. This will make many nice wind chimes especially if you paint geometric shapes on them. Glass jars can be made into a single bath soak. Clean out a 2 liter plastic bottle. Add epson salt, a few drops food color, and a few drops scent then cap and shake. When it is the nice pastel color, you want pour into the baby bottles and attach a ribbon with a colorful card that directs the receiver to relax in a hot bath. (You can find epson salt at any Walmart and some grocery stores in with the cold medicines and sore muscles supplies. And I use the scents that go onto potpourri. Cardboard cans can be made into holders for different things by covering the sides with paint, paper or glueing little stuff to it. (02/17/2001)

By gravel

Cans, cans, cans

Uses for baby food jars and formula cans: One year for Christmas I gave home made baskets of powdered hot drinks- i.e.. hot chocolate, friendship tea. I put them in the empty, clean powdered formula cans (I even kept the same scoop). Put them in a basket with a batch of cookies. Cute gift. For Baby food jars, last year I cleaned the labels off and tied a cute ribbon around the top and dropped a colored votive candle into each one. Put them all over the house. You can even add some glitter glue and stickers so that your son can help too. - Julie (02/17/2001)

Cans, cans, cans

With coffee cans, one can make stomper stilts: Turn the can open-end down. Make 2 holes, opposite each other, near the closed end of the can. Run a piece of rope, about 2-3' long, depending on child's height, through the holes and tie the ends together. Child can stand on the closed ends of the cans, and use the ropes as handles, to keep the cans snug to his feet as he lifts them to step.

To make a coffee-can roly-poly, make a slit about 1/2" long in the center of the lid, and in the center of the can bottom. Run a strong rubber band through the bottom slit, so most of the rubber band is inside the can. Secure it by putting a piece of popsicle stick, pencil, stiff card, or some such, through the small loop of rubber band, on the outside of the can, and pulling the end of the rubber band that's inside the can. This will keep the rubber band from simply pulling all the way inside the can through the slit. You can tape it if you want. Tape a few washers or some other kind of weight to the center of one string on the part of the rubber band that's inside the can. Put the other end of the rubber band through the slit in the can lid, secure as before with a piece of card or whatever, and fasten the lid to the can, making sure the rubber band isn't twisted against itself. When you roll the can away from you, the rubber band will get wound up because of the weight, and will come back to you as the rubber band unwinds.

I use cardboard cans for storing plastic grocery bags. I cut an "X" in the flexible plastic lid, and just stuff the bags in or pull them out as needed. I keep these in the trunk of the car for fruit picking or car clean-up or wet-clothes/diapers containment. I also keep them in the kitchen for waste basket liners.

If the cans don't have sharp edges, you can fasten several together to use as wall cubbies. Put a can, open-end up, on a table. Surround it with 6 more cans of the same size, also open end up. This will give you a flower shape (one can in the center, and 6 "petals"). Of course you can also make pyramids, parallelograms, whatever. Fasten them together with hot glue, duct tape, what-have-you. Mount this artwork to the wall for cubbies. The "flower" shape works well in the shed for storing hoses in winter without getting a kink in them, just wrap the hose (or extension cord, or...) around the outside. For a kids' room, you could mount the "flower" cubby on the wall, then paint a stem and leaves on the wall below it.

Baby food jars can be used to make "snow globes". Fill jar with light corn syrup, add some glitter, glue a trinket to the inside of the lid (remember the lid will become the base), and glue the lid shut, or simply close it very tightly. Baby food jars can be used to contain all kinds of small things: spices, thumbtacks, touch-up paint, garden seeds, those curling-ribbon "eggs", small game pieces. Some people fasten the lids to the underside of a shelf, and screw the jars into the lids so they can easily see/retrieve the contents. - MC (02/19/2001)

Baby food jars

I use baby food jars to make Christmas trees as gifts. It takes 17 of them. Shape them into a tree and glue them together. Then I glue the tree to a piece of flat wood for it to stand on. I punch holes in the lids and paint them green. Inside each jar I put little pieces of tinsel and sometimes other small goodies. I then screw the lids on. Then I take a small strand of lights (35 I think it is) and tuck 2 into each hole. After that. I take wide ribbon and glue it around the outside of the tree. I also use those decorative strands of small balls that you would use around your tree, and I decorate the front of the glass tree, glueing them on. Sometimes I also take little fuzzy white and silver balls and glue them into the spaces between the jars. It makes the look like ornaments. Plug it in and you're ready to go!! You can be creative, sometimes I'll use red tinsel and white lights, etc. Depends on preference. Makes nice, inexpensive Christmas gift!! (02/22/2001)

Cans, cans, cans

Here is an idea you might like. File down any sharp egdes, paint the cans various colors and drill a hole in the bottom of the metal can, big enough to put a light from a string of christmas outdoor light through it. Use an over sized metal washer, with the opening of the wash no bigger than the light socket(to prevent the light from slipping through can after being hung). Hang the string of lights and plug in. Great for patio parties. (03/13/2002)

By the_mouse_2b

Cans, cans, cans

With large coffee cans you take three of them and cut off the bottom of two then stack them on top of each other with the one that has it's end on the bottom and glue or duck tape them together. take one regular size bath towel and cut to fit around the cans glue in place. Decorate with some flowers on the front of the towel covered cans. Take a matching wash cloth and cover lid to one of the cans gluing in place and then decorate with flowers. you now have a toilet paper holder with a lid that matches your bathroom colors. (09/28/2004)

By Dannielle Jenkins

Cans, cans, cans

I have made a foot cushion out of juice cans like juicy juice and it requires no sewing. I'm sure you can use coffee cans. You'll need and odd number of cans. I used seven. Cardboard of some type (you can use a box if necessary, just as long as it's thick enough) to cover the top of the cans so any holes are covered up if there is not a lid. Trace the top of the can on the cardboard, cut it out and place on the top of the can, secure with tape. Either a round thick foam where the circumference is a little bigger then the cans or polyfill. You can find the circumference of the cans by putting the cans in a circle as best as you can and measure in a cross motion or you can take a towel or large piece of paper and lay it gently over the cans and measure in a cross that way.

Finally you will need some fabric. Cotton blend is best. However you can use the material of your choice, both design/print and texture. 1 to 2 yards of fabric should be more then enough. It's a trial and error kind of project but well worth it when finished and it's really rather easy to make.

Again those materials needed are

How to do it: Once you have placed the cans in a circle, open end facing up (cover with lid or cardboard cut outs), secure the cans together with either duck tape or rope of some kind (eg. twine, yarn, etc.) or both. To use the string just wrap around each can in a figure 8 design so to speak making sure that the string goes around each can at least once until all are strung together. You can use tape to secure the string both at the beginning and the end. Then apply the polyfill or put the foam on top. With the polyfill, you will want to put enough to form a comfortable cushion when finished. Place one end of the fabric halfway on the bottom of the cans and wrap up to the top and continue over until you need to carefully flip the cans over to meet at the bottom matching up with the other end you started with. With the cans still in the flipped over position, trim any extra fabric left over.

Secure with duct tape or any other strong tape. Flip back over and enjoy your foot stool. There you go. Hope it's not to hard to follow my instructions. I am better at showing then explaining sometimes. :-) Sorry if it is hard to follow. You can make a pin cushion by using the same method of a much smaller scale with old medicine bottles of any kind but same height or old film containers. (03/11/2005)

By parentof2

Comment Was this helpful? Yes
Related Content
Better Living Green Living ReusingMarch 13, 2012
Made from tin cans of various sizes.
Making a Recycled Tin Man
Tin Can Man Being Constructed
Crafts Using Tin Cans
Tin Can Frog
Tin Can Animal Crafts
Summer Ideas!
Fourth of July Ideas!
Father's Day Ideas!
Ask a Question
Share a Post
Desktop Page | View Mobile

Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Contact Us

© 1997-2017 by Cumuli, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Published by .

Generated 2017/06/19 15:47:51 in 4 secs.
Loading Something Awesome!