Recycling Tin Cans Into Useful Crafts

Recycle your cans. Tin and steel cans save a lot of energy if they are recycled. Reclaiming one ton of steel or tin saves 1.5 tons of ore. Tin recycling saves an estimated 2,600 kilowatt hours per ton. Steel recycling saves and average of 4,300 kilowatt hours per ton or 47% of the energy required to process steel from raw materials.

There’s never going to be a shortage of tin cans in the average kitchen. Finding uses for them or at least for some of them is economical and ecologically sound. Why fill up the landfills when you can reuse them? Here are a handful of countless things to do with tin cans to get you started.

This instructable shows how to decorate cans to be used as organizers for pencils, pens, paint brushes, etc. It’s a simple thing to do, and children would especially have fun making their creations. Here’s how:

  1. Collect some Cans Destined for the Recycle Bin. Size doesn’t matter, regular 14oz, is a good size, but all can be used. I prime the can with a good primer as a binder for the glue to be used.
  2. Make Styrofoam “Tiles”. Use hotwire machine to do this.
  3. Glue Tiles Or Pattern To The Can. We want to make this tiled can look like a ceramic work of art, so carefully place tiles, gluing them no more than 1/8th inches apart. The empty spaces will be grouted as though they were real ceramic tile.
  4. Grout The Can. Using regular non-sanded or sanded grout, mix up a batch for your project. Apply grout with a gloved hand, or use a spreader tool. Force the grout into the spaces between tiles so that there are no pockets of air, or missed places in the grout lines. Let dry for 20-30 minutes. Picture from another instructable, but clearly shows the grouting procedure.
  5. Remove Excess Grout. After this initial drying period, remove excess grout with a damp, almost dry sponge. The object is to leave a hazy layer of grout over tiles, but leaving grout lines intact and even with the surface of the tiles. When dry (overnight) the tiles can be cleaned up, again using a damp sponge. Project can be sealed with a grout sealer if wanted, but is not necessary for these projects. I have used acrylic varnish (water based) and it appears to do a good job and leave a nice shine.
  6. Other Possibilities. Names, words, designs, messages, images can all be cut from your foam material and applied as shown. Other possibilities would be to get some stone “gems”, sea shells, metal objects, etc.

For photos and illustrations, check here

More Uses:

  • Use tin cans to keep tables or chairs locked together. Place both legs into tin cans where the legs meet in the middle. This secures the legs. Make sure to choose a can size that both legs sit flat and snugly inside of.
  • Nail lids to the floors to cover up holes in tree houses and camps. Spray lids with a rust preventing paint and then with polyurethane spray to
    protect them. Punch one house number per lid with an awl and hang lids on a rustic fencepost for cheap and unique house numbers.
  • Punch a decorative design into the sides of a can and them punch a hold in the center of the lid. Widen it as needed with tn snips and put it over the fitting of a bulb on a string of lights. Make it too small for the bulb to fit through. Attach the bulbs through the can lids and hang up. For outdoors, spray with polyurethane or rust retardant paint.
  • Bake brown breads or bread puddings. Use cans with pliers over a campfire for throw away pans. Take them on picnics or beach days for eat and toss bowls.
  • Punch holes in a can and sit candles inside for use outdoors. Use tuna cans to keep fried eggs round or to poach eggs by setting them in a skillet of simmering water.

sources:,, photo from

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