In SHTF situations, don’t lose hope but take out your beer can.
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.
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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.