10 New Uses for Tin Cans

    A rather brilliant tin can succulent planter. Photo: Irene G./HometalkSome times of the year, I feel like I'm churning out tin cans like clockwork, and this is one of them. It's not just the canned pumpkin I'm using for holiday baking because I don't have time to roast and prepare my own squash. It's the cans of cat food for a little someone who's having some special nutritional needs, the surprisingly good cans of dolmades I've been opening up for guests (seriously, I'm picky about my dolmades and these pass muster), and more.

    The recycling first rattles and then teeters high with its tin payload, but...come on, there has to be a better use for tin cans. Our own Sayward Rebhal started a list last year, so I checked it twice...and decided to keep going.

    1. Small-batch paint mixing

    Only need a little bit of paint for your New York painting project, and don't want to make a huge mess? Tin cans are perfect for mixing a small batch for a project like refreshing trim on furniture or fixing stains and scuffs. Make sure you note the proportions used in the batch so you can replicate it if you have to. When you're done, you have a choice between rinsing the can well and reusing it, covering it and saving it for later, or taking it to a toxic waste disposal facility that handles paint.

    2. Solar still

    Say you find yourself post-zombie apocalypse and you need some fresh drinking water. Well, a tin can might just be your new best friend, because you can build a solar still to purify rainwater.

    3. Lampshades and more

    Tin cans, whether left plain, painted, or decorated in fresh paper, can make great lampshades, nightlights, and more. You may choose to leave the can whole (maybe you want to use a can with a vintage label as a hanging lamp over the table?) or you might pierce or cut it to create a decorative pattern.

    4. Yarn management

    Nothing worse than balls of yarn exploding all over the place, especially laceweight yarns. Keep your yarn firmly in hand with a tin can holder. Make sure to sand the edge well so it doesn't snag on the lip of the can as you're working.

    5. Beer holders

    This is kind of brilliant. Attach your can to a rod of the desired height, stick the rod in the ground, and hey presto, you have a tin can beer holder. It's mobile, thanks to the rod, and if you want to get fancy, you can add chalkboard paint so people can claim their beers!

    6. Mini-grill

    Cut a series of slits down the side of a can (carefully! edges are sharp) with tin shears, and gently spread them out to create a cradle. Line with foil, add coals and a grill, and you have your very own miniature grill. Perfect for those with limited grilling space. (Remember: always grill outdoors, because the byproducts of combustion can be poisonous.)

    7. Cookie cutters

    You can get classic round cookies in a snap with a tin can, but you could also cut the edges and bend them into any shape you like for your desired cookie look. Be adventurous!

    8. Tin can lids

    This creative concept applies biodegradeable plastic lids to turn tin cans into toothbrush caddies, vases, and more. Check it out!

    9. Clock

    Searching for the perfect clock? Why not make your own? A tin can clock is a simple project that doesn't require an engineering degree to put together...or even any particular electrical skills.

    10. Plant markers

    Half the time I forget what I've planted by the time it comes up and then I get to squint, wondering if it's kale or bok choy before it finally resolves itself. I won't have this problem any more with my tin can plant markers!

    Finally, a note on that whole goat thing: you know the rumors about how goats will eat just about anything, including tin cans? Well...actually, goats, like other ruminants, have pretty sensitive stomachs, and they need a balanced, healthy diet. Goats who chew on non-food items like tin cans could be looking for nutrients they're lacking, and they should be evaluated by a vet or goat nutritionist. They may also be bored and looking for playthings, but there are far more appropriate goat toys out there!

    Katie Marks writes for Networx.com.

    Updated May 16, 2018.

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