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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 page about reusing tin (steel) cans.


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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

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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

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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 Monica from Cortez, CO

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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. Recently I cleaned out my medicine cabinet. I put small tubes like burn creams and antibiotic creams in them. I also keep band-aids, cotton balls, q-tips, my thermometer and sleeves in them.


Any small items that I can to keep things from falling out of the cabinet. You could also just paint them the colors of your choice and label the cans. Either way, whenever you open your cabinet, it is pretty and cheerful to look at. I use them for my make-up items too. It's a great way to store eyeliner, lip liners, mascaras, eye shadow wands, lip glosses, and like.

It just makes things easier for me to find what I am looking for.

By Tricia M. from Ridgeway, VA

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April 25, 2007

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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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By 3 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.

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October 16, 2018

I eat a lot of the larger Campbell's chicken noodle soup (in the 25% more cans) and mandarin oranges from The Dollar Tree. While prepping them for recycling today, it hit me. The bigger one could be a lid for the smaller one.

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January 31, 2007

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.

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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.

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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.

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.


March 12, 20020 found this helpful

I wash them out thoroughly so as not to attract unwanted critters, and then store a few for when I need to discard cooking oil from pan frying or deep frying. I pour the cooled oil into a can, then I stuff a couple napkins into it, close the lid (which I usually keep attached to the can), and place it in my trash. I've found this to be the best way to discard oil in the least messy way. Other than that, I recycle them. Thanks for a great newsletter!!!


- A. P.

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March 12, 20020 found this helpful

Here's a few ideas for re-using coffee cans, large or small sizes.

An empty coffee can makes a great container for collecting kitchen sink-side compost. When it's full, take it out to the compost bin, and dump it. Then rinse it in the dishwater and keep using it.

At work we have 2 large empty coffee cans by the coffee machine to save the used grounds. A few gardeners take the used grounds home for their plants.

Empty coffee cans are great organizers for the workbench area to hold nails, screws, and small items.

A large empty coffee can is good for holding clothespins. Thread a wire hanger through two drilled holes in the can and hang the can from the clothesline while you are hanging clothes.


Coffee cans make great planters for outdoors or indoors. Just drill drainage holes in the bottom. Paint or decorate the cans. Wire a few together -- in groups of 3 would be nice -- for a larger planter.
Use wire to hang the planters over a railing or a fence. Attach heavy cord to make hanging planters.

Laid on their sides and glued, wired, or duct-taped together in a stacked pyramid, coffee cans make a cute shelving/storage system for a desk or workbench top. Paint and decorate the cans as well.

Decorated coffee cans work well for storing dry bulk ingredients in the pantry, such as rice, oats, and beans.

Keep your garden seeds stored -- nice and dry -- in an empty coffee can.

Stack and duct-tape 2 large cans on top of each other. Make two of these and lay a board on top for an instant shelf. Paint everything to match.

You can bake bread in the oven using coffee cans as the bread pans.

I have even read that footstools can be made from coffee cans joined together and then covered with fiberfill and cloth.

Only your imagination can limit you from finding MANY more uses for coffee cans.

Ness, co-list mom of Waste Nothing discussion group

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March 12, 20020 found this helpful

Sometimes we buy spaghetti sauce that comes in tall cans. I usually cut out the other end on them and put them around tall plants like amaryllis. I use regular sized cans around shorter plants like overgrown pansies bought at end of season sales.

Now I have a question. Does anybody have any ideas how to use those silver cardboard peanut cans? We like peanuts but cutting those things up to recycle the parts separately is a pain.
- Linne Dodds

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March 12, 20020 found this helpful

You can make a Can FootStool. You will need 7 large juice cans, 2 yards of material and quilt batting. Full directions can be found at the link below.
- Peggy Hoehne
Contributing Editor - Household Tips
http://www.suit  m/household_tips

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March 16, 20020 found this helpful

Dear Linne,
I find those peanut cans the perfect size to wrap individual pieces of homemade fudge or peanut brittle in and give as a gift. I just cover the outside of the can with contact paper or attractive gift wrap. It makes a pound of fudge go a long way and also keeps it fresh. Good Luck,
- Granny P.

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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

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February 7, 20010 found this helpful

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


February 7, 20010 found this helpful

Peel the labels off and smash 'em flat - 8 or so. Using an awl, punch a hole in each one. Take a larger can - coffee can or large vegetable can - fill with ice and freeze. Then in the rim of this can, punch a hole for each smashed can - space your holes equidistant along the rim. Punch another hole in the center of the can bottom. Now spray all the cans with clear rustoleum to keep them from rusting. Thread fishing line through the holes in the large can and tie knots to hold them in place. Thread the other end through the hole in the smashed can - one can per string - and knot. Finally, thread a button onto another length of fishing line and knot. Pass this thread through the hole in the middle of the can bottom, and hang. Un-canny windchimes. My kids did these and painted the large can with geometric designs. Great for mother's/father's day.

You can also cover 6 cans (same size) with wallpaper or contact paper, stack them in a pyramid (3 on bottom, then 2, then 1 on top) and glue them in place - use as a desk organizer. Make one with larger cans for a mail sorter. Can stand on the bottoms, or on the side.

You can also make a carry-along organizer with three equal-size cans (coffee or large veggie work best) and a wooden handle - cans are screwed into handle. Basically, the handle is cut from plywood, and extends deep wnough so the cans can be screwed on, three to a side, with open ends up toward the handle for carrying. Looks sort of like the carriers they have for cleaning supplies. Directions for this are on, or GReat for gardening stuff.

Make luminaries - an oldie, but a goodie! Fill cans with water and freeze. Use a nail and hammer, or an awl, to make holes in the cans in a pattern that you like - initials, hearts, stars, hex signs, etc. If the ice starts to melt, stop and refreeze. When the design is finished, thaw and empty water. Place a small candle inside. Voila!

Also, make buddy burners and buddy burner ovens for camping - see for directions.

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February 7, 20010 found this helpful

You can cover them in either fabric or paper or paint them and use them for pencil, pen holders next to the phone and computer !

You can use them to pot plants in !

You can make them into lanterns. punch holes in a pattern around the sides then put a candle inside make a wire handle and hang outside in the garden or around the patio for a lovely effect. - Sherrie from Western Australia !

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February 7, 20010 found this helpful

Use a really large tin to make a child's drum stretch some strong fabric over the top and glue and tie very tightly ! can either decorate the tin with paint or leave silver ! if you use wet fabric when it dries it will be tighter ! - Sherrie

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February 7, 20010 found this helpful

I had a really nice pencil holder made from a vegetable can. The relative had taken Reader's Digest pages and rolled them diagonally into tubes. They were rolled around a pencil so all the tubes were the same size. When the tubes were rolled, they were taped and cut to the height of the can. Then glued on the can.

She then took some colored laundry cord and cut short pieces, probably about 1 to 1 1/2 inches long and used the cord to connect two of the tubes. It gave the pencil holder a fancy look and made the top and bottom stronger. It really was very pretty. Because the pages were rolled diagonally just the colors showed not the actual pictures.

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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

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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.

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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

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