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Uses for Metal Coffee Cans

Category Reusing
These containers can be used for storing things and a variety of crafts. This page is about uses for metal coffee cans.


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Re-use metal coffee cans and lids. My grandfather used coffee cans to store nails, bolts, small screw drivers, and other tools. The cans kept the moisture out and kept things organized. They can also be used to store small containers of oil, etc. and sandpaper.

By Monica from Cortez, CO

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February 7, 2007

I save large tin coffee cans to use as containers I give my baked treats away with. This is the Christmas theme I used. I am not camera savvy, sorry.

I used ribbon in different sizes and types wrapping the cans and ending with large bows in the back. (before I did this step I cut a small matching piece to glue along the seam of the can to better hide the seam).


I cut slits in lids and ran curling ribbon through, tied bells to that before I curled the ribbon as a finishing touch and placed a bow over that. Most cans I used 2 colors or designs of ribbon. One can I covered in wrapping paper then used ribbon. The possibilities for decorating ideas for these are endless and you're recycling.

Tip: Go to a few different stores after each main holiday to catch the sales and you will get a great assortment of ribbon and decorations at a huge discount to use for the next holiday. For most of mine I paid between 75 to 90% off the original prices.

By Freedom059 from OH

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Coffee cans make really cute drums for the toddler and preschool set. I spray painted mine with leftover plastic paint, cut 2 vertical slits , one on each side and inserted a man's belt through the slits and buckled it on the inside. Then I popped the lid back on, added 2 dowel sticks or wooden spoons. The belt goes around the back of the preschooler's neck (like the Fisher Price toy drum) and the drum hangs in front in easy banging distance.


The drum can be decorated with stickers, colored tape, etc.

Source: Desperation! One grandchild had the Fisher Price drum and the other wanted one, too. So I made one from a large plastic coffee can I had.

By Paulette Gulakowski from Turtle Creek, PA

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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.

December 27, 2000

I have many 3 lb. coffee cans that I hate to throw away. Does anyone have any clever and practical uses for them? Thanks.



December 27, 20000 found this helpful

I cover them with gift wrap and fill them with home made cookies and top with a bow. I also store cookies in the freezer in them. And at Christmas I punch out designs in them. Next paint them add a candle and line the drive with them. Pretty luminaries. Dont forget the sand in the bottom!

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December 27, 20000 found this helpful

Aside from the obvious storage ideas, 3# coffee cans make great luminarias. Fill empty can with water, insert an empty plastic soda bottle, forcing it into the water with the can lid and seal the can shut. Freeze the can of water, the soda bottle will prevent the can from becoming mishapen as the ice expands. When the water is frozen, take the can out of the freezer, or off the porch if you live up North, and using a sharp nail and a hammer, punch holes in the can, creating a design of choice.


The can can be spray painted before or after freezing. A design can be traced on the outside before freezing. If the water begins to melt, refreeze, so start punching from the top of the can, and work your way down. When finished, drain, and dry the can, and add sand and a candle. If it's very windy, put your candle in a glass jar before setting it in the coffee can/luminaria. These can be decorated for anything from Christmas to the 4th of July. They won't catch fire, or blow away.

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December 27, 20000 found this helpful

If you live where winter weather is bad, you probably know you should carry an energency kit in case you get stranded (munchies, water, etc). What if you can't even get out of the car to go to the bathroom? Add an empty 3-pound coffee can to your kit, with a roll of toilet paper inside. Let's hope you never have to use it, but just in case ...!

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December 28, 20000 found this helpful

My wife use to run a daycare here in the house. We use to decorate the coffee cans with paper and feathers, old buttons or whatever we had kicking around. We made little drums with the children. They loved gluing the different items on the cans. After the glue dries put the plastic cover back on the can and give the little one a plastic or wooden spoon....hours of fun.

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December 28, 20000 found this helpful

We always use ours for storing grease in but you can also punch a coin sized hole in the top for saving your loose change in throughout the year and then you have another X-mas fund at the end of the year.

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December 28, 20000 found this helpful

Cut out the bottom and use them as a fire starter in your grill. Place the can in the grill bottom, raise one side slightly using a small stick, put in crumpled up newspaper, add charcoal, put a little starter fluid on the charcoal, and light from the bottom.


You will have white hot coals in just a few minutes.

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December 28, 20000 found this helpful

You can also use the cans for bird feeders or nesting areas. Leave the bottom in them for a feeder and punch a couple holes on the sides to string wire thru. Sprinkle some seed in the can after it is hanging. I paint the cans so they won't rust.

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December 28, 20000 found this helpful

I saw a cute idea at a baby shower held in December. The centerpieces were Santa cookie jars. Cover the coffee can with white felt and make a face using simple cutouts of felt. Glue on a white beard made out of trim. Make a Santa hat out of red felt, white trim and a white pom. Fill "Santa" with treats, cover with plastic lid and top with hat.

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December 30, 20000 found this helpful

I use all sized coffee cans to bake bread or English Muffin loaves in. You make and let rise as usual and then bake in the oven instead of using loaf pans.


Kids think it's great to have round loves of bread. Especially if you are making bologna sandwiches. hahaha Perfect sized. You can also use the large ones and the smaller ones too for baking cakes too.

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December 31, 20000 found this helpful

My personal favorite is to use coffee cans for perennial transplants in the spring. I divide and give away lots of plant divisions and these cans are often the perfect size to use. They also make good planters for outdoors, and 3 can be wired together to make an interesting, larger-sized planter. You can also paint the cans and decorate them with designs if you like.

Another use is to have an empty coffee can by the sink to put all your compostable waste into. Keep the lid on it until it is full. Then empty into your compost bin. Wash it out and keep using it.

At work, we keep an empty coffee can by the coffee pot. The used coffee grounds go into the tin, and a fellow who is an avid gardener takes the can home when it is full. Then another empty coffee can takes its place and gets filled up again.

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December 31, 20000 found this helpful

Coffee cans are the perfect containers for mailing cookies to friends and families. Decorate the can with fabric or wrapping paper, add some ribbon around it, then pack the cookies in! Box it up and mail it - it holds the cookies well, so they don't get broken.

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January 3, 20010 found this helpful

Put vegetables in the bottom... potatoes, cabbage, carrots. On top of that put brats or some other sausage of your choice. Cover with tin foil and put on the grill. The juices from the sausages will drip down and flavor the vegetables.

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January 6, 20010 found this helpful

If you have dogs you can use them as a dog food scooper. Or a plant holder for outside, just decorate. Or,hair tie's if you have daughters or for yourself.

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January 8, 20010 found this helpful

Are you sure it is safe to put food in coffee tin cans for a long period of time? Isn't there something on the inside of coffee cans that is unhealthy?
Kind regards,
Anna Marie

Editor's Note: I think as long as the food is dry and the inside surface of the can is intact, they should be fine for food. If the food is wet, they should only be used for a short amount of time. When when wet food items are canned it is done so with lots of heat. Once the can is opened it works more like a cannister or can be used for cooking over a campfire (I'd only recommend using the can once.)

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By MAM (Guest Post)
April 10, 20040 found this helpful

Stilts for little kids - (attach string/rope), organizing tools and hardware,
let the kids build with them or maybe you could build a desk, a table, a fire pit, a pyramid to plant in!

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By jan skelton (Guest Post)
May 20, 20040 found this helpful

Looking for good coffee cans in the pound (+ -) size. I use them to bake pumpkin bread and they do eventually rust. Would like to find several.
Thank you

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June 26, 20040 found this helpful

I make switch plates and outlet covers from old tins such as coffee tins! The newer coffee tins have too many grooves but older ones make beautiful switch plates! Check it out

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By Kathleen Unger (Guest Post)
September 13, 20040 found this helpful

I used 3# coffee cans for centerpieces for my mother and daughter banquet. Spray can gray, punch two holes in top level across from each other, take wire coat hanger and bend to form handle. Trace a spout out of heavy cardboard or card stock in shape of pouring spout, glue spout to front of can and fill with silk flowers for a beautiful table center-

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October 6, 20040 found this helpful

Cover a smaller size one with a used licence plate bent in 1/2 for a roof of a bird house. Secure it with twine thru the screw holes or other - like wire. Secure to a post near a window so you can enjoy it.

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By shirley rushing (Guest Post)
January 19, 20050 found this helpful

I take 3 large cans and make toilet tissue holder in bathroom. It will hold 4 rolls of paper. Cut bottom out of two of them and glue all 3 of them on top of each other. Cover with fabric or towel of your color choice. I use super glue to do this. Take one tin lid and cover with washcloth. Take rubber band and gather excess. Have fun.

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Read More Answers


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

March 14, 2011

Uses for coffee cans. Post your ideas.


Using Coffee Cans

I use empty coffee cans (well washed and thoroughly dried, of course!) to store pasta, etc. Keeps bug out of the cabinets!

By Becki in Indiana (01/24/2005)

By ThriftyFun

Uses for Coffee Cans

I bake bread in coffee cans. When fully baked the bread takes on a look of a mushroom. With the bread being round, it's perfect for a sandwich. I hope you too will enjoy this use. (01/24/2005)

By Carol

Uses for Coffee Cans

I have a lot of animals (birds,, squirrel). I use the coffee cans for their food so that other animals can not get in them and I don't have bags of food sitting all over the place they can be placed on top of each other for easy storing. The others are used by our child to keep small toys in them so the dogs can not choke on them after he is through playing with them. (01/25/2005)

By Trina

Uses for Coffee Cans

Coffee cans are great for picking berries and cherries. If they are allowed on a beach, you got youself a sturdy sand bucket, complete with scoop.

you can use coffee cans for small home repair projects like cementing, plastering or painting. And it's a nice way to clean tools and brushes up afterwards. Also think of the possibilities of decorating these containers to use in the house (02/05/2005)

By Michael Ruger

Uses for Coffee Cans

I use mine as a cantenna to access wireless internet! You can do a google search to find out how to make these cantennas. The largest size coffee can actually works! (02/18/2005)

By Melissa

Uses for Coffee Cans

I put the dog do do in it from outside. (02/18/2005)

By wanda

Uses for Coffee Cans

I cut a whole in the plastic top and line the can itself with a plastic grocery bag and then place the plastic top back on. I place one in the front and one out back for when smokers come over so they have somewhere to put the butts from their cigarettes and I don't have to run around the next day in the lawn picking them up. When they get full I just remove the plastic bag, tie it, toss it, and put in a new one. (02/18/2005)

By Suzanne Spencer

Uses for Coffee Cans

Make a birdhouse with them. Cut a small hole in the plastic lid - about 1 inch in diameter - slightly below center. Add a perch, if desired. Insert an opened and straightened wire hanger, rope, etc on both ends to hang with. You will have to puncture the bottom end of the can to insert your choice of hanger as well as another tiny hole on the plastic lid. The lid can then be removed at the end of the season to clean out the house if needed. You might want to paint the can with non toxic paint as birds sometimes are frightened by shiny metal. (02/22/2005)

By Elizabeth

Uses for Coffee Cans

When you're camping, for making toast over a gas or coleman stove: Cut both ends off a metal coffee can, peel off the plastic coating on sides, cover one end with foil, place a small grill from a toaster oven over top, slice some holes/strips in the tin foil and put your toast on top (one or two at a time) Turn your stove on to medium and turn the bread with a fork until it's nicely toasted. Unless you don't watch it, you'll have perfect toast.( (07/12/2005)

By ann

Uses for Coffee Cans

I have three horses and have found that the smaller coffee cans are great for hanging halters and bridles on, Getting a nail into the can is a challenge but I used a screw driver and a hammer. It works great (11/06/2005)

By maryjane

Uses for Coffee Cans

I keep an empty coffee can in the cabinet over the washing machine. As I clean out my husband's pockets, I put his change in the coffee can. Then you kinda have a secret stash for something you want later! (03/31/2007)

By Stephane in Millington,Tn

coffee cans

I use to put paint in when painting. (05/26/2007)

By Donna in mo.

Uses for Coffee Cans

We cover the outside of the coffee can with various Christmas wrapping paper, fill them with, goodies, and give them out as Christmas presents, the kids love to get involved with this activity. (09/30/2007)

By Charles

Uses for Coffee Cans

Coffee cans are great in the garage. Use them to separate and store all your nuts, bolts, screws and nails.

They make great storage for all your hair accessories.

Add sand to the can and put it on your porch for an ashtray.

Clean out your junk drawer!

Put one by the sink for scraps and compost. (11/13/2007)

By Guru

Emergency Car Furnace For Winter Travel

Put a few candles and matches in a clean can, no label. Store with the lid on in your vehicle. If you are stranded in snow and need heat, put one candle in the center and light it. Take safety precautions like having one window open slightly for oxygen - make sure you're receiving oxygen through that window and it isn't covered by snow. Having the tin sitting on something burn-proof would be best, etc. (11/13/2007)

By Robin Payton

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