Upcycling for preppers: The 12 survival uses of tin cans

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People tend to discard tin cans along with the rest of their garbage, but tin cans are among the most valuable items you can scavenge and re-purpose, since they have countless potential uses. Make the most out of your tin cans by turning them into these 12 DIY survival items when SHTF. (h/t to HomesteadSurvivalSite.com)

A scoop shovel

Tin cans are made of a sturdy material and their shape makes them perfect tools for digging or tunneling. In a pinch, they can serve as makeshift scoop shovels to lift earth, sand, or rocks from the ground. You can use the cans whole or cut them lengthwise for a better grip. Just be sure to sand down the edges to make them easier to handle.

A signaling device

You can create an emergency signaling mirror or device by cutting off the lid of an empty can. Rub the outer side of the lid with aluminum polish to make it as shiny as possible for maximum light reflection. Once you have shined and buffed it as much as you can, poke a hole right through the center of the lid. You can then look through the hole to see the person you want to signal. Use the reflective lid to flash a signal at the other person and alert them of your location.

A small knife or shiv

Cans have naturally sharp edges, which allow them to serve as makeshift cutting tools or weapons in a survival situation. Simply remove the lid and fold it in half. Wrap one side with durable rope or tape, so you can safely hold it without cutting yourself.

A fishing lure

In a survival scenario, you might find yourself having to fish for food. Create four emergency fishing lures by folding the lid of your can twice until it breaks into four equal parts. Puncture a hole through one and thread it through your fishing line. You should now have three spares in case other people also need to fish. (Related: Survival scavenging: 10 Items you can re-purpose when SHTF.)

A small pail

If you need to carry items in a small pail or bucket, you can punch a couple of holes near the top portion of the can and thread the long end of a metal clothes hanger through the holes. Create a handle by folding the metal wire and twisting the ends until they are securely locked in place.

A candle holder

Protect your candles from wind and moisture by keeping them inside a tin can. You can even poke holes in the sides of the can to let more light out.

An alarm system

Surround your perimeter with several cans all strung together. Fill them with anything noisy so that they rattle when disturbed.

Storage containers

You can use tin cans to keep small items organized, such as screws, nails, bolts, keys, pens, and pencils.

A plant pot

Some plants need to first grow in small pots before being transferred to a larger garden. Fill the can halfway with soil and plant your seeds. Poke holes at the bottom for drainage. When your plant is ready to be transferred, remove the bottom and slide the plant out.

A shower head

Create a temporary shower head by poking a few holes at the bottom of a can and securing the top to a hose. Use duct tape to keep your shower head watertight.

A water filter

You can create your own makeshift water filter by poking a few holes at the bottom of an empty can and filling half of it with layers of gravel, sand, and pebbles. Pour the water on top of your filter and allow it to seep to the bottom, where you can collect it with another can.

A cooking pot

Filtering water isn’t enough on its own. You must first boil the water before drinking it. You can make a basic cooking pot by hanging an empty can over an open fire. You can secure the pot with a wire handle and then pour the water in.

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