In SHTF situations, don’t lose hope but take out your beer can.
RELATED: 9 Smart Soda Can Survival Hacks You Need To Know
Beer Can Hacks | Surprising Survival Uses for Beer
A Beer Can May Save Your Life
Beer can help you survive no matter the brands of beer cans you have. Just ask Clifton Vial of Nome, Alaska, who spent more than 60 hours in isolation outside of town on November 28, 2011.
While he was out for a drive, his truck veered into a snowdrift. With no cell service, he couldn’t call for help. He was wearing only jeans, a thin jacket, and sneakers.
Vial did everything he could to endure temperatures of 17 below zero. He insulated his clothing with random rags and used the truck’s heater for warmth until he ran out of gas.
For nourishment and hydration, well, you guessed it: he turned to a few cans of frozen Coors Light. Mr. Vial survived his ordeal thanks to turning his attention to an unlikely hero: a beer can.
It doesn’t matter what types of beer you have — it can still save your life. Check out some ideas from this article from Outdoor Life (published with permission).
1. Boil Water
One man’s trash, right? A single can of beer is capable of becoming a lifesaver if you can use it to boil raw water. Then, you can make it safe for human consumption.
The trick with boiling in cans is to set the water-filled can next to the fire and in the ashes. Do not place the can in the center of the fire. The metal will break down quicker.
In 10 or 15 minutes, the water will start to boil. Then boil for 10 additional minutes to be on the safe side. Let the water cool and have yourself a pathogen-free drink.
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2. Make Char Cloth for Flint and Steel
This will be a one-shot deal, but a beer can is capable of producing usable char cloth for flint and steel fire making. Cut the top off the can. Pack the inside with fibrous tree bark, punk wood, or cotton cloth.
Fold the top of the can shut and throw it into the campfire for exactly 5 minutes. The can should be melting by the end of 5 minutes. If you are lucky, your char cloth will be ready before the can disintegrates.
3. Create a Fishing Reel
You can make a classic fishing reel from almost anything cylindrical. The beer can, though, makes a fine spool for storing the fishing line. It’s even possible to cast the line right off the can.
To learn how to fish with it, tie the monofilament to the can’s pull tab. Better yet, create a small hole onto the can and tie the line through it.
Wind up the line around the can, trying not to overlap the mono too much. For storage, put a rubber band or tie a string around the can and mono to keep it from unraveling.
The can fishing rig casts a bit like an open-face reel, so be patient and be cautious to avoid tangling the line.
What is Open-Face Reel? It is a spinning fishing reel with a stationary spool.
4. Start a Fire
This DIY method of starting fire plays off the principles of optical fire making. Polish the can with little smears of chocolate to create a shine. Use it to reflect the light of the sun off the can’s concave bottom.
Select a fine, fluffy tinder, preferably one with a dark color. Play with the zenith and azimuth angles of the can until you get some smoke coming from your tinder.
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5. Pull Tab for a Fish Hook
A soft, malleable fish hook is just about the worst one you can ask for. The good news is you can catch fish by using a gorge hook fishing technique and some flimsy improvised hooks.
Most styles of beer have pull tabs. Break them off and cut out a section to resemble a fish hook.
Sharpen the hook tip to a point, attach it to your line, and bait it appropriately. Instead of trying to set the hook in the fish’s mouth when it bites, give it some line and let the fish swallow the hook.
The pull-tab hook will hang up on the soft stomach or esophagus a lot better. It’s less likely to pierce the jaw.
Know, though, this is not a catch-and-release method. You’ll probably be ripping the fish guts out to retrieve the homemade hook. This is survival fishing.
6. Create a Candle Lantern
I love a good, cheap little camp lantern. A simple candle nub and a creatively carved-up can will give you a surprising amount of light for a cheap price.
It’s even lightweight. Just cut a line down the side of the can.
Cut two more lines so the cuts resemble a capital I. Fold open these little double doors and drop in a tealight candle.
You can also add a handful of sand. Then stick a candle chunk inside the lantern.
Hang it from the pull tab on a nearby twig or from a piece of wire. Don’t hang the lantern from the pull tab with a meltable or flammable line. Trust me, those lines won’t last long above the hot candle.
7. Design a Bow Drill Friction Fire Socket
Another way to get fire from the beer can is to use it as a bow and drill fire component. This method has the muscle to work through cold and wet situations, but it needs to spin freely at the top of the drill.
Crush the can so it has folds in the side, which will receive the top of the drill. The slick metal will not require any lubricant like a wooden block will. It will get hot very quickly too.
RELATED: DIY Alcohol Stove From A Beer Can
8. Make a Reflective Signal
If your beer can isn’t shiny on the outside, cut the thing in half to expose the metallic interior. It’s not going to be as shiny as a signal mirror, but it can still reflect light as a form of signaling for help.
You can also hang it up in a prominent place and let it twist in the wind as an “automated” distress signal.
9. Cook in a Survival Stove
Cut a can in half, add a few ounces of high-test alcohol to the bottom half, and you now have a dollar-friendly camping stove. No, it won’t perform like a JetBoil, but the price is right.
You can also prowl the Internet for plans to build a can stove with little jets around the top lip, which will increase the stove’s efficiency.
10. Store Your Survival Kit
You can create a waterproof and inconspicuous survival kit for dirt cheap. Get your beer out of the can in a creative way (like through the side) and leave the pull tab intact.
Use your knife to punch a hole in the side of the can. Pour the beer into another container. Let the can dry out inside.
Load it up with fire starters and first aid gear. Include signaling equipment and all the other usual suspects.
Wrap 20 to 30 feet of duct tape around the can as a way to seal it up. Then you can tell your buddies about the duct-tape-wrapped beer can that can save your lives.
11. Design a Camp Perimeter Alarm
This trick is ideal for bear country. Throw a few small rocks in an empty beer can and set it up somewhere the can will fall down with a crash.
Tie a string to the can. Then you run the string around your tent or camp as a tripwire about one foot off the ground.
One bump of the line from man or beast will send the noisy can tumbling down from its perch. Hopefully, it will give you a head start on the intruder.
12. Make Fishing Float
By punching a new hole in a can, next to the hole you drink from, you can thread a small rope through the openings to make a float for fishing nets, trotlines, and fish traps.
Yes, this one is teetering on the brink of littering more than the others. Keep in mind, though, this is survival we are talking about here.
You can go on a recycling quest later if you lose some cans but save your life.
To finish the float, use a small rough rock to grind the can openings smooth. It will reduce wear and tear on the float line.
We don’t want the float to cut the line.
13. Defend Yourself or Hunt with Projectile Points
More dangerous than a wooden point, any sharp projectile can add damage to an arrow or spear impact. You can even fashion the harpoon tip to be detachable and run a line off it.
Cut the can into different sizes and shapes and fold them into cones and flat triangles. They can now assist in small-game hunting during survival situations.
Obviously, this isn’t as good as a store-bought broadhead, so stick to small game with this one.
14. Drink the Beer
So many of our forebears survived in areas and situations with bad water because of their knowledge of beer brewing. They used beer for years as a pathogen-free beverage and a way to store food calories.
You can store a barrel of wheat or barley in your little shack, but you may not keep the rats and bugs out. A better choice is to keep a barrel of beer. It has much of the same calorie value, and pests are less likely to damage a can.
Drink the beer for both hydration and calorie intake in the event of an emergency. Make sure, however, you drink responsibly — always.
Find out more can life hacks from Creative Useful:
It doesn’t matter what types of beer and beer cans you have. All of them can be very useful during survival situations.
You can also have an excuse now to buff up your beer stash with the best beers in the world. Knowing how to recycle the cans, you’ll never throw them into the trash again.
Do you have more beer-related survival tips? Let us know in the comments section below!
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on August 2, 2013, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.
I’ve got some of those plastic tops that snap over the rim of soda cans that keep bugs and such from getting inside the can, snap one on and you’ve got a water carrier, take the inside of the can top off and snap a cover on and you’ve got a beer can survival kit, not industructable but will work.
In a prolonged disaster, the value of a can of beer will be astronomical. Lots of good trading value in a small package.
I like all these ideas! I really do. This really gets you thinking about using whatever is available for survival, and how a little thing like a beer can could make such a difference. Thank you for a good article.
For the candle holder, it would have made it much better for some, if you had said the 2nd & 3rd cuts should be along the top & bottom so you
can fold the doors out!! Yours would have been one helluva capital “I”!! Even I just figured it out!!
WOW! Really Sonny!? Must be from the city.
Ever been stuck out in a boat with a broken shear pin and no spare?
Well, I have in my buddy’s boat. Miles from nowhere. I took an empty
beer can and using a knife, cut a panel from the side that was just
wide enough to fit the length of the pin. Then, I rolled up the panel
and experimented to find the correct length to roll up and turned it
into a shear pin that would stay put due to the spring strength from
the rolled up panel. We, very successfully, limped home.
Genius! I would have spent the next week paddling home.
Are you a survivor or a shouter? Making do with what you have around you to do things that they would not normally be used for. Turn a can into a stove, a box some aluminum foil and a sheet of glass and make a solar cooker. Have you heard of “thinking outside the box?” in this case think outside the article.
Beer cans, being aluminum, can be used to generate HYDROGEN by contact with any strong acid or base. In a survival situation, you can make lye out of wood ashes. With hydrogen, you can turn a crate of condoms into a lighter-than-air balloon and fly to safety if the wind is blowing that way. Or you can drink the beer from the cans and have a Hindenburg party. The improved morale is sure to improve your survival chances when TSHTF.
I got one for ya. You may need a few trusted friends for this one. First get some flashlights, a couple of basket balls or balls of similer size, a lot of pine pitch or equivalent and some girls (preferably 18 yrs old, cute would be preferred ) and a bunch of canned beer. Drink the beer and cut off the bottoms. Stick the bottoms to the balls with the pitch. Attach a rope to each ball and hang it overhead. Point the flashlights at the balls and get the girls to dance. Don’t forget to charge admission. I forgot the music. Get some wax paper wrap it around your comb and do what comes natural…..HUM.
At least I would die happy. LOL
I was on a canoe trip for 3 days and we lost all our supplies when an unexpected waterfall appeared in front of us. All we had left was the cold 6 packs we found swirling in eddys down stream. I can tell you from experience that, 3 days of not enough water and mostly beer, made for some very dehydrated people. We drank lots of water when we finally reached our destination. We did boil water in some of the cans we found and drank, but not enough water for the 3 days. Of course, with all the alcohol intake, we probably were not smart enough to boil enough water to avoid dehydration. Now I know better, some 35 years later.
Hey marius I bet that when tshtf you will be using all these hints that your unamerican pea brain would never have thought of. How many men, yourself included, do you know that would rather drink soda over beer? Not very many. As a matter of fact, given a choice men will choose beer every time!
Uh!! NOT!! Drinking beer does not a man make!! As a matter of fact, it generally makes them more childish, as you’ve just illustrated!! Just an fyi!! when the feces hit the proverbial air oscillator, and things get really down and really tough to survive, it’s gonna be drink what’s available, soda, beer water, tea, cows milk, goats milk, sheep’s milk, and probably any other safe liquid.
You’re taking things too literally. The writer is giving the reader credit that they can use any type of can for these purposes. Take what you CAN from it and leave the negativity at the door.
Roy, you are exactly right. Some people just have to try to one up the author and they don’t realize how ignorant it makes them sound. I agree that they should take what they can get from the article and just scroll past anything that they don’t agree with. The ones putting these ideas down do not know what situation they might be in and one of these ideas could pop into their head and really be the thing that saves their life. They just want to sound smarter than the man in the video and don’t realize that what they say makes them sound childish.
Beer is not hydrating. The alcohol content DEhydrates you.
I drinks 12 cns aday make memacchhoo man………uan idjit.
The fish hook was ok, it got the point across, I have made 50 or 60 fish hooks from pull tabs,and some would make Bill Dance proud, keep up the good work, God Bless.
“I don’t know – but I’ve been told” that an empty Pringles tube can be used to cook a hot dog when cut lengthwise (into a sidewise “I”), placed on its side with the lid on, & unfolded enough to track the sun! Plan to try it when the weather is warm/hot enough!! Good “Survival Hacking” to yo-all!!!