10 Uses for a Tin Can

Dec 3, 2021 | Upcycling

Did you make a tin can telephone as a kid? I did but are there grown up uses for a tin can? We throw away (and by ‘throw away’ I mean recycle) a lot of tin cans. Even though are recyclable, it would be great to extend the life of some of them to reduce the impact of their production. There are some seriously tacky ideas out there but here are ten that I would (or have) actually tried.


Lanterns made from tin cans look so lovely when lit from within by a tea light. Groups of them can make a real statement. People are even selling these on Etsy. Looking at some of them though, I reckon you could do a better job yourself. Follow these instructions by HGTV.

Image by HGTV

Citronella Candle

With the arrival of summer and daylight saving comes long evenings outdoors – and also the bitey bugs. Citronella repels mosquitos so dotting a few citronella candles around your outdoor living space will make outdoor living much more enjoyable. I also love that these instructions from Sugar and Charm use recycled wax from old candles. I’m going to make some of these this summer. The tea tins are especially lovely.

Desk Organiser/Pencil Pot

When I was a teacher, I had tin can pencil pots on every group of tables so pencils for my Kindergarteners were always handy. Now I keep my art supplies organised in them. The important thing I have discovered is to make sure that the tin opener I use is one that doesn’t leave a sharp edge. Decorate a single tin or group them together like these from Modern Mountain Life.

Cutlery Tote

In a similar vein, and another great idea for outdoor entertaining this summer is a tin can cutlery tote. Madame Criativa has instructions (in English and Portuguese!) for a lovely one.

Drink Holder

It seems like there are lots of outdoor uses for a tin can because here’s another idea for outside – a drink holder. This idea by Single Girl’s DIY could be adapted for your picnic kit too by using a shorter stake so you can use it at blanket level.

Windowsill Herb Garden

Having fresh herbs on hand in the kitchen is so handy and growing your own herbs is a great sustainable step too. You probably don’t really need instructions for doing this but if you do, Kendra Castillo has some for you.

Hanging Planter

Continuing on the plant theme… There are so many versions of tin can hanging planters on the Internet to choose from but I have chosen this one by Gleeful Things because it upcycles fabric as well as tin cans with macrame – another recent interest of mine!


Seriously, hear me out here. There are some incredibly stylish tin can lamps out there. This version by maybolicious on Instructables might not be a beginner project but I love it!

Pin Cushion

You know I like to sew and mend clothes, so I’m always reaching for my pin cushion. I don’t think you can have too many so get hold of a smaller tin can, such as a tuna tin, and make a pin cushion using these instructions on Craftaholics Anonymous.

Image by Practically Functional on Craftaholics Anonymous

Mini Cake Tin

I discovered this trick years ago and have often made single (or maybe double) serve fruit cakes as little gifts at Christmas time. With such a variety of tin can sizes, you can make cakes to serve one or more people. I also love this idea by Oh Happy Day to make mini layer cakes from a standard tin can. Brilliant!

Image by Oh Happy Day

What other uses for a tin can have you seen?