What to Do with a Leftover #10 can (Part 1)

Written by The Ready Store

After you’ve eaten through your food storage, you’re left with a number of empty cans. Now what? We collect a few ideas on what to do with that #10 can.

With a simple can opener and candles, you can create an effective lantern. Be sure to wash out the can first. You can use the pointed edge of the can opener to puncture holes in the sides of the can. Place the candle inside the can and it becomes a lantern with direction-light. You can also add handles or sidebars to take the light on the go.

Some people have even used a small nail to create designs on the sides of their lanterns

This advice comes from CountryLiving.com.

Four 6-inch-length wire-core wicks, primed
4 wick holders
4 tin cans, approximately 4 inches deep and 2 inches wide
2.5 ounces stearin
1 disk wax dye, if desired
1.5 pounds paraffin wax

1. Insert a length of primed wick into each wick holder and place a wick in the center of each tin.
2. In the top of a double boiler over medium heat, melt the stearin and wax dye, if using.
3. Add the wax. Melt and mix thoroughly. Heat to 190 degrees Fahrenheit.
4. Anchor the wicks in the tins by pouring enough wax into each tin to cover about 1/2 inch of each wick. Allow the wax to cool for about 30 minutes.
5. Wrap the end of the wicks around tie rods and rest the rods on the tops of the containers. Take up any slack in the wicks and center them within the tins. Be careful not to dislodge the anchors.
6. Reheat the wax to 190 degrees Fahrenheit and fill the tins to within 1/2 inch of the top. Allow to cool for one hour.
7. If the wax settles, reheat the remaining wax to 190 degrees Fahrenheit and top off the candles as necessary.
8. Cool for several hours or overnight. Remove the tie rods, trim the wicks to 1/4 inch, and the candles are ready to light.

Pin Cushion
DesignSponge.com has a great tutorial on how to create a pincushion out of a smaller can – like a tuna or cat food can.

1 Small tin can
1 Piece of fabric, approx. 8” x 8”
Handful of poly-fil
Small piece of gift wrap or other decorative paper
Double-stick tape
Hot glue
Blade and straight edge for cutting paper

1. Carefully remove label from outside of can.
2. Trace label onto your piece of decorative paper, adding 1/2″ to the length for overlap.
3. Attach to can with one small strip of double-stick tape, and overlap ends with a second piece of tape.
4. Place a handful of poly-fil in the center of your fabric square, gathering the ends to create a loose ball shape.
5. Line the inside rim of the can with hot glue and insert the fabric/poly-fil ball, with raw edges going into the bottom of the can.
6. Tuck in fabric until it is taut. insert pins.

Be sure to read our part 2 of “What to do with a leftover #10 can.”


Updated February 17, 2012


  1. Ruth S wrote:

    I LOVE the idea of making them into lanterns! What a great idea to use them for lighting along a path or driveway.

    February 18th, 2012 at 1:00 pm
  2. Vicki D wrote:

    Wow – great ideas – I love these!
    I was planning to make candles this year – thanks for the directions!
    And those pin cushions – my whole family has “tuna” can pin cushions from years back…maybe it’s time to make more!
    Thank you for all you do and for helping us learn what we need.

    February 21st, 2012 at 7:30 am
  3. Elizabeth wrote:

    Tie a string thru two holes on opposite sides, an inch from the bottom, of two clean #10 cans, string loop being mid thigh of intended pre-schooler. Upside down the cans become stilts for kids, who then hang onto the string and strut about learning to balance and coordinate.

    February 21st, 2012 at 9:44 pm
  4. Wendy Mechis wrote:


    August 7th, 2012 at 1:39 pm
  5. wolfsong4u wrote:

    Small cans can also serve as stoves. Roll up cardboard that has been cut to just short of the cans height as tightly as possible. Stuff the cardboard into the can and add melted wax. Allow wax to dry and there you have a small stove that you can just light whenever you need to. Tuna cans are particularly great for this but any can will do. This stove can last indefinitely as long as more wax is added to the can. Old candles found at your thrift store or garage/yard sales are perfect for this. You can also make fire starters from cotton balls or makeup remover pads saturated in wax, allow to dry and than store in your can with a lid. I even use cans to bake banana bread, zucchini bread, pumpkin bread, or any sweet bread. After washing out the cans I oil the insides and pour the batter into them, and bake the breads in the cans. Once the breads are finished baking I allow them to cool, take the bottom of the can off with my can opener and run a knife around the inside to push the bread out. This gives you a sweet little round loaf that can be sliced in circles, or half circles. I also bake regular bread in the large cans, if they are well greased and floured they will come right out of the can, if they stick , no big deal you can take the bottom out of the can, run a knife around the inside and have a nice round loaf of bread. Fun to eat round slices of bread for kids and adults alike.

    December 23rd, 2012 at 8:35 pm
  6. roxanne wrote:

    The lantern can be done with a nail and hammer also and if the can wantes to bend you can always put some water in and freeze it to make it stiffer

    March 14th, 2013 at 9:55 am
  7. Pamula wrote:

    My mother use to make a pincushion out of a tuna can with the attached lid… it was the cutest thing ever…it was made to look like a chair with chair arms and it was all cushioned excepted around the bottom of the can even though it was covered and a person might not realize that it came the start of a tuna can…ty

    June 8th, 2013 at 12:41 am
  8. Sandy wrote:

    As a child growing up my mom always had a #10 coffee can available when we went camping in a tent or on our boat. We called it “THE PEE CAN” and it worked great! Make sure you keep the lid on when its not in use just in case it gets knocked over!
    My grandmother also saved the # 10 cans to keep her homemade cookies and Chex mix in. Grandpa would fill the cans with water and use them as targets when he would practice his shooting.

    June 17th, 2013 at 3:29 am
  9. Leslie wrote:

    1. Cans are also great for keeping small treasures that children collect, keep the cover! You can label the cans and store them for future viewing when the children are older. They will get a kick out of the items that were valuable to them when they were younger.

    2. Cans are also great for starting seeds. You will get a healthy plant to transplant into your garden because the root system will be larger.

    3. You can also use cans to store photos and small items from a vacation or trip. Put the lid on it, and store it with a strip around it stating what the vacation was (ex: “ENGLAND May 2013″)

    4. You could also have each family member decorate a smaller can and use them for popcorn “bowls” for your family movie nights.

    5. You can store seed packages in a can until needed. They would be out of the way, and easy to find.

    6. For small children, go on a nature walk, each with a can. Have them gather things they find along the way. When you return, you can glue the items to paper so they can show them off, or they can keep them in the cans for show and tell.

    7. Great storage place for dirt and worms if you fish!

    8. Cans are great for a place to throw loose change. When full, bring to the bank to be counted and use it for something special.

    9. Smaller cans with covers are great places to store those loose buttons we all get when we buy new clothing.

    10. Redecorated with wrapping paper, a can become a gift “bag”.

    So many possiblities!!!

    June 17th, 2013 at 5:54 am
  10. Rev wrote:

    These are some wonderful ideas.! now if only I could find a way to get #10 cans other than eating my way through my stored goods!

    June 17th, 2013 at 6:37 am
  11. rezmut wrote:

    Rev,contact your local school caf.,they throw away lots of #10 cans.

    June 17th, 2013 at 10:18 am
  12. hellmund wrote:

    Using a beer can opener, put holes in the sides at the bottom , cut out bottom and place in barbarcue, add newspaper and charcoal to start the charcoal. Take out can when charcoals are lite.

    June 17th, 2013 at 11:15 am
  13. Sharon wrote:

    Use one to store dry fava beans from year to year. Some for planting and others that go into winter soups. Holds my button stash. My grandmother gave me one of the pincushions made from a 15oz size can. It is a little chair. Thin strips were cut into it to make the legs and back with lots of decorative curls. The one end of the can is the chair seat covered with fabric and batting for the pins.

    June 17th, 2013 at 1:30 pm
  14. Becky wrote:

    #10 cans make great stoves. Use beer can opener and make 4-6 openings on the top and bottom of the can. Set can over a small fire and place small fry pan on top. Openings on bottom allow air in and the holes at the top allow smoke out. Learned this in Girl Scouts over 50 years ago. Oops! Guess I’m telling my age (haha).

    June 17th, 2013 at 3:16 pm
  15. cc wrote:

    My grandmother took the large coffee cans and made foot stoos with them. They turned out really cute and just the right hight. Also made nice extra seating for the little ones.





    June 17th, 2013 at 5:06 pm
  16. Grannytraveler wrote:

    I made the stoves in GS’s also. You can also make fuel for the stoves without having to build a fire. Fill a tuna can with rolled up cardboard and pour paraffin over the cardboard. Slide the tuna can into a small opening that you cut out of the can. We always cooked on the #10 can stoves whenever we went camping in GS.

    June 17th, 2013 at 7:59 pm
  17. Lynn wrote:

    There is NO real need to heat paraffin wax to 190-degrees F. (although many online articles say this). It is more important to heat this wax very slowly over the double boiler while the wax block(s) melt.

    June 20th, 2013 at 3:49 am
  18. kim wrote:

    I heat my wax on a candle warmer. It never gets too hot.

    June 20th, 2013 at 4:41 am
  19. NameBarb wrote:

    I spent my childhood in,what was at that time, still the slightly wild west. In the smaller towns and out on the ranches coffee cans and license plates were building repair materials. The bottom of the can was cut out, and the whole thing mashed flat. Weak, damaged or broken boards in the wall of out buildings, such as a tack barn, were covered over by this flat flap of metal. They nail right on. Same with old license plates. Those can also be used to replace torn off slat shingle roofs. If varmints chew through at the bottoms of sheds the metal cans and license plates nailed on around the floor helps stop them.

    June 20th, 2013 at 12:51 pm
  20. Evie wrote:

    Gift wrap holder. Nail 6-10 cans open side up to a 12″ square board. Place on the floor. Put 1-4 gift wrap (tube type) tubes per can.

    July 4th, 2013 at 4:39 pm
  21. Beverly wrote:

    Another thing you can do with used #10 cans…If there is a LDS Cannery near you, borrow their can reflanger and sealer, buy the lids from them and can other dry items that the cannery does not carry or buy 25 lb. bags of dry beans and grains or powdered milk and can them yourself at quite a savings…Beverly

    August 18th, 2013 at 7:20 pm
  22. John wrote:

    I have a space between the two front seats of my van. I place several of these cans on the floor to organize water bottles, loose change, granola bars, maps, etc…..

    January 20th, 2014 at 8:36 am
  23. Bruce wrote:

    Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) protection for small electronics:

    1) Wrap a small transistor radio or small Geiger counter in several sheets of a paper towel and insert in a plastic bag – with a desiccant.
    2) Insert the wrapped item in the can.
    3) Wrap the batteries and put them in plastic too, and insert in the can.
    4) Take some sandpaper and buff the outside lip of the can to about an inch or two down from the lip.
    5) Wrap the mouth of the can securely with several sheets of aluminum foil.
    6) Re-attach the plastic lid and secure with tape.
    7) Label the lid with the battery expiration date and item stored.

    Not the greatest EMP protection, but it should do in a pinch … better would be a paint can with metal lid.

    January 20th, 2014 at 12:44 pm
  24. TheBingeThinker wrote:

    As teenagers we always used cans for muffler repairs to keep the cops away until we could afford a new muffler. Saved us a lot of ticket money.

    August 5th, 2014 at 11:29 am
  25. Osligomo wrote:

    I get as many #10 cans as I need from my school’s cafeteria. I use many of them for my vertical garden. using 2×8’s and fence slats I created a set of stair steps that are about 5′ high and about 6’across. Each “stair” holds about 5-6 cans, for a total of about 40-50. Using a can opener, I put about 6 holes in the bottom of each can for drainage, add a coffee filter to keep the soil from running out, fill with a mix of compost and garden soil, then add whatever plants or seeds I’m growing. I have been successful with grape tomatoes, green beans, many varieties of peppers, carrots, radishes and several herbs. I painted the cans white so they reflect some heat which helps reduce watering needs and keeps the roots from “poaching”. When the season is over, there is usually quite a ball of roots, which can be composted quite easily.

    November 2nd, 2014 at 3:02 pm
  26. Name Annie wrote:

    Please ask Osligomo to put up pictures of what he has done or to make a you tube video.

    January 5th, 2015 at 11:28 am
  27. Kathy wrote:

    ‘re the suggestion about pincusion. It has always been my experience as a crafter, that hot glue is useless. One it reaches about 90 degrees f, it softens and anything glued with it comes apart! Not to mention some pretty charming burns I’ve gotten by using the glue gun! If you use E6000 cement, use ventilation and for Pete’s sake don’t smoke! Just a thought.

    January 5th, 2015 at 7:13 pm
  28. tonya wrote:


    January 5th, 2015 at 8:44 pm
  29. tonya wrote:


    January 5th, 2015 at 8:45 pm
  30. Suzy wrote:

    I keep all my #10 cans with the lids and reuse with a gallon size mylar bag and put something in it that I want to keep for my prepping needs. They work great. Mark outside of can with a label to know what is inside.

    May 4th, 2015 at 10:43 am
  31. Mspigpen wrote:

    Concerning the post by “CC.” What a great idea on the stools made of #10 cans!!
    But, why wait til they are empty?? Some I’ve purchased from the Ready Store are very light weight (freeze dried fruits). Why not make the stool using those….good storage idea and super discrete” just maybe paste a list on the bottom of what’s inside. ;-)

    May 5th, 2015 at 7:05 am

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