Often, the most helpful survival tools are everyday items, such as soda cans. In America, soda cans are plentiful. We can thank Coors Brewing Company for that. Coors reports, “Bill Coors was a rebel with a cause. After years of studying the traditional tin can, he introduced Coors in a more environmentally-friendly aluminum container in 1959.” Since then, aluminum cans have been used for a wide variety of beverages.
According to The World Counts, “The world's beer and soda consumption uses about 180 billion aluminum cans every year. This is 6,700 cans every second - enough to go around the planet every 17 hours.”
Not only do most Americans have soda cans in their homes, but they also tend to wind up littered on our streets and highways, and are plentiful in dumps. While it’s not good for the environment, you may be thankful for a soda can if you find yourself in a desperate situation.
Tips for Working with Soda Cans
The material and shape of soda cans make them effective for crafting survival tools. This is because aluminum is thin and easy to cut, puncture, and reshape.
Using scissors or a knife and your hands, you can cut and fold pieces of the soda can to meet various needs.
If you need to cut a soda can, begin by making a small slit in the can with a knife (or another sharp tool) and then work around the can.
Remember, the edges are sharp, so you must be careful when working with the aluminum soda can edges.
Whenever possible, try to bend the sharp, jagged edges down so they do not cut you, or use the #1 survival tool – duct tape – to form a layer of protection.
That said, here are 14 ways you can use a soda can as a survival tool.
1. Self-Defense Weapon
If you have ever cut yourself on a sharp edge of an aluminum can, you know how painful it can be. My son once needed to get 14 stitches after a can sliced through a garbage bag and cut his knee. All this to say, a soda can makes an effective weapon – specifically a knife.
In addition to simply cutting the soda can and exposing jagged edges, you can also cut triangular pieces of aluminum and attach them to a piece of wood to make a weapon.
2. Rescue Signal
If you find yourself lost in the wilderness and need to signal for help, you can use a soda can to craft a mirror signal.
To do so, you should use chocolate, clay, or mud to buff the concave bottom of the soda can until it is shined enough to reflect.
Once the soda can is ready, use Morse Code to signal for help.
[Related Read: Why Morse Code Is Still Important Today]
One of the coolest and most useful ways to use an empty soda can is to turn it into a cook stove.
Here are basic instructions from The Soda Can Stove:
- Poke 16 burner holes along the bottom edge of one of the cans.
- Cut out the bottom of the can you just poked the holes in.
- Measure up 3/4 in from the bottom of the can and cut. This will be the top of your stove.
- Snip the edges of the stove top several times to form tabs. You’ll be fitting the top of the stove into the bottom of the stove and these little tabs help ensure it fits.
- Grab a new can and cut out the bottom of it. Don’t poke holes in it or cut out the bottom as you did for the top of the stove.
- Take the leftover remains of one of the two previous cans you cut up to make an inner wall. You need to cut out a strip that’s 1 1/3 in wide.
- Now you need to size the inner wall. You’ll cut halfway through the strip on each end on opposite sides of the strip where the ends will lock together.
- Cut three small notches about equal distance around one side of the strip. This allows the fuel to flow through the inner wall to the outer wall.
- It’s time to put the three pieces together. Start by placing the inner wall in the stove bottom, with the notched ends down. Then fit the top of the stove on, tucking the “tabs” you snipped earlier inside of the stove bottom. The pieces should all fit together like a puzzle.
4. Drinking Vessel
A creative use of a soda can is turning it into another type of drinking vessel.
To do this, all you need to do is cut off the top of the can. Then, bend the edges of the section you have already cut to fold internally into the cup. You may need to make small snips to make small bends. The key is to not have any jagged edges where your mouth may touch.
The last thing you want in an emergency is another emergency, such as needing first aid.
5. Light Source
Soda cans can be shaped in a variety of ways to protect candle lighting.
The soda can acts as protection against the elements, as well as a case that safely holds candles in place so they won’t fall.
One method is to cut the can to create a lantern where the candle is protected on top and bottom from the elements.
Another method is to place a candle on the bottom of a soda can that has had its top removed. Use a sharp tool to make several puncture holes on the sides of the can to create a luminary.
6. Alarm System
If you find yourself in unfamiliar territory, you need to protect yourself from strangers and animals. One easy way to do so is to create a soda can alarm system.
You can stack the cans around the perimeter of your camp making it difficult for an intruder to enter without making noise.
Or, create hanging alarms by your entryways using soda cans that alert you when someone enters or leaves the homestead.
7. Water Purifier
Water is key for survival, but you may not be able to find safe water when you need it most. In this case, you can use an empty soda can to help you boil and purify the water.
Place a piece of fabric (such as a shirt) over the can and pour the water you find through this fabric filter into the soda can. Then, place the can over a fire and allow the water to boil for three minutes.
Be careful removing the can from the fire as it will be extremely hot.
8. Hanger Hook
The pull tab found on soda cans can also be used in survival situations, as they are very sturdy and difficult to break without shears.
That’s why they work exceptionally well as hanging hooks. Use a pull tab with paracord or rope, and you’ve got a strong tab suspension hook.
9. Fishing Hook
Another way to use the pull tab from a soda can is to turn it into a fishing hook.
After removing the pull tab from the can, simply use a knife or wire cutters to cut the larger circle of the pull tab.
Then, pull the cut section away from the circle to form a hook shape.
Thread your fishing line through the remaining circle and you have a makeshift fishing hook.
10. Water Canister
Water is essential in disasters. Clean water is even more important. Should you find clean water or make some, you can use an empty soda can as a water canister.
Cut the tops off of two soda cans. Pinch the sharp edge of one of the cans.
Fill one of the cans with the clean water. Then, place the pinched can upside down into the other can to keep this water covered and protected.
11. Quick Storage
If you are foraging for food or tinder in a survival situation, a soda can makes a great tool for storing your finds.
Simply pour out whatever liquid remains in the soda can and put your finds inside the can via the small opening. You can cut the can open when you return to camp.
If you want to store more items, use the same two-can technique as you would for the water canister.
A cut soda can works as a simple shovel to scoop.
13. Organization System
When you cut the top off of a soda can and fold or pinch the jagged edge down, you have a handy container for little items, such as small first aid supplies, nails, or ammunition.
14. Herb Garden
While this hack isn’t for a dire emergency, should disaster strike or the food supply get low, you can use cans to grow your own herbs and sprout veggies.
Herbs require little space to grow, which is why soda cans make ideal planters. To use soda cans to make a herb garden, you simply need to cut off the top of the cans and clean the interior. Then plant away.
A wise choice is to use the soda can planters to grow medical herbs, such as yarrow for bleeding and calendula for infections.
Always be prepared, friends.
Preparedness Advisor, My Patriot Supply