Introduction: Can Lanterns

Picture of Can Lanterns

Recycle your used drinks cans into potential fire hazards!! A modern take on the paper lantern... now even shinier _

Step 1: Materials Needed

Picture of Materials Needed

You will need:
Any size or shape of drinks can (Preferably unopened as of yet as we need the flat top to balance the tea light on)
Something to put said contents of can in.
Our friend Mr Stanley the Knife.
Pliers (I find Snub nosed easier of this)

Also needed but not pictured:
A small length of wire ~10cm
A tea light (those lil lights in a metal pot)

Step 2: May Cause Disorientation.

Picture of May Cause Disorientation.

Turn the can upside down and puncture the domed bottom with the stanley knife. Contents liable to a splode so do this in a sink or a swiming pool, possbly even a bath. Tip the remaining liquid into the cup for you to sup at leisure (it helps if you turn the can rightside up ontop of the cup and make a small hole at the top - that way the liquid can flow away easier.

Step 3: Remove the Top Part

Picture of Remove the Top Part

Carefully cut around the dome using the stanley knife so that the middle part falls out. Then use the pliers to bend the sharp edges back in on thenselves so they are flush with the can (it also helps to cut radial lines going to the lip so the metal co-operates better)

Step 4: Just Hanging

Picture of Just Hanging

Make two holes at opposite ends of the top on the other side of the rim. Loop wire through thease and secure the ends by twisting back on itself. Now you can hang burning doom above people _

Step 5: Cut Lines

Picture of Cut Lines

Carefully cut lines all the way aound along the length of the can using the stanley knife. I wasnt being particularly neat for this one but to help with uniformity and doing interesting diagonals lay strips of masking tape down the length of the can so that they overlap and one edge is visible (this is the one you are going to cut along). Another aid in your quest for neatness is to use scissors to cut these lines as they leave a relatively straight line with no chewing on the sides.

Step 6: Squeeze!!

Picture of Squeeze!!

Push donw on the top and the bottom of the can so that the strips pop out. (some of them might go inwards but you can pull them out easy enough - or have it as a style feature) All you need to do now is to drop the tealight into the lantern (perhaps securing the base with blu-tack) light her up and hang it somewhere (not with string as its directly above the flame and is a sure sign that things will end in tears or the smell of bacon O_O) To aid in lighting this beast you might want to cut a small hole low down on one of the sides so you can poke a match through to the tea light without risk of burninating your fingers.

Step 7: Other Ideas

Picture of Other Ideas

Below are some examples of what you can do to make your lantern more interesting. The plain vanilla version is on the right, next to it is a model using diagonal lines (to make them pop out all you do is twist the can slightly). Next to that i decided to play around with changing where the bends in the middle where (not that this can is "right way up" as it was made before i realised that using the top as a base is more stable). The last one has been liberally dribbled in glow in the dark paint (which didnt stick as its wall paint) in an experiment to see if it could charge itself (shich it doesnt as the paint is only on the outside - i was worried it might catch fire if i painted the insides).

Some other ideas i have done (not pictures) have been along the lines of cutting out stencils on the sides of the can but as i had to use a scalpel for this and the blades blunted really quick its hard to go into too much detail - stuff like stars and plantes work well.

Go on, play around with this and see if you can come up with any intresting ideas - send me pics of any you have made as well. I didnt take any night pictures because my digicam doesnt like them O_o.


Cheerfultrout (author)2015-08-02

I'm making my own version of these lanterns and I was wondering, what did you use to make the holes for hanging the lanterns? I have some ideas, but wouldn't mind the extra input. (this question is posed not just to the author, but also to fellow readers who have made something like this)

instructable person 9 (author)2013-08-10

Cut the top like this

pogoman12345 (author)2011-09-14

does it matter which end you cut out?

fourthjinn (author)2006-07-01

A very easy way to remove the base of a soda can cleanly is to score the edge of the concave section by "dragging" the tip of a screwdriver along its edge repeatedly. Doing this weakens the metal enough that (after cutting a few slits in an asterisk pattern) you can simply bend the metal flaps until they snap at the score line. It is very easy to do.

The idea comes from:

Another idea i had to embellish the cans is to sand them down with some high-grit sandpaper and a bit of oil or water. i figure this would eb easiest to do when the can is still full because that way there is pressure from the inside to help you avoid denting your soon-to-be glorious can lantern

h3idi (author)fourthjinn2011-06-16

I took the lazy way out and used a belt sander, and voila, the thin aluminum got a hole and COKE everywhere... I was hoping to keep the can intact since i wasn't thirsty. Chalk that up to experience, glad i was outdoors.
I primed and painted with spray, and mine are white - a little bit less enviro friendly, but very pretty, and i poked holes in them for patterns (more windproof) and put stickytack on the bottom (convex part) to keep my tea lights in. Still haven't experimented with handles, just put these on the railing of my deck. Beauty.

Alberta Leong (author)2010-09-12

very innovative idea! thanks for sharing! :)

catboo22 (author)2009-07-20

eeeeeeewwwwwwwww lemon diet coke! even just normal diet coke is gross( not to mention bad 4 u )

Frindledon3 (author)catboo222009-07-22

its not lemon the outside is just yellow for decoration

Frindledon3 (author)Frindledon32009-07-24

yes it was sarcasm....what else was it supposed to mean

mg0930mg (author)Frindledon32009-07-22

I hope that was sarcasm...

Frindledon3 (author)2009-07-22

i really like this ...i just made one for when me and my friend go camping...thanks a lot..good job also

Oorspronklikheid (author)2006-12-31

I did a few quick ones with my dremel and bench grinder. I used my bench grinder to remove the hard bottom.In the middle is a burning tea candle

just use a can opener

TangMu (author)Oorspronklikheid2007-07-31

Oh for a dremel....

PKTraceur (author)2008-10-23

i sanded down a Dr. Pepper can, so you could still see the red, but there was a lot of silver.... it is TRIPPIN!

rholland45 (author)2008-02-23

you shud call them canterns lmao

egreen767 (author)rholland452008-10-22

I like it!

when_im_sixty4 (author)2008-10-22

Contents liable to "a splode"... LOL. Perhaps you could make some H*R themed can lanterns? = )

poi_pai (author)2008-06-27

A suggestion for getting clean lines for designs, or just avoiding jagged lines, fill the can about two thirds full of water and toss it in the freezer. That way you have a solid surface to work on and less risk of cutting yourself. I did lanterns like this for a wedding once. :)

TangMu (author)poi_pai2008-07-07

Great idea. I just used my fingers on the other side but your method is safer and painless!

bruno13069 (author)2008-06-23

Made these at Scout camp. After you drink the soda, remove the top with your can opener. Then invert the can over the end of your walking stick and push it out. (Use a broom handle or the like.) Poke holes, random or patterned, into the sides of the can, or cut out a section of the side. (No more than 1/4 of the way around.) Use a wire handle long enough to hang it near your ankles. That way it lights your path, but it doesn't blind the others on the walkway. We called them "Lollapaloozas".

schuldig (author)2008-02-12

hey I found another can project by someone else who made cutting the bottom out of the can a lot simpler...a can opener

connorcancount! (author)2007-09-07

haha i like it, probably going to attempt, hopeflly i wont burninate my fingers.

j626no (author)2007-04-13

damn....i was just going to make this later this week and i noticed there was already one one here.....i still may post my one design though, i was going to use the heat from the candle to make the can spin. very cool though

TangMu (author)j626no2007-07-31

I tried doing that in my experiments but my attempts at making a floating top part just using wire and the can didnt quite work O_o

shadymilkman (author)2006-11-27

i did this once while at a friends house in his basement. We thought it would be cool if we coated pieces of T-shirt riped into strips with melted candle wax to use as fuel. It worked well for about 30 seconds and it started to really catch fire. The resulting blaze caused some panic, but we did get it put out. His house smelled like blown out candles for about 3 days. Ahh the good ol days!

BobertXXL (author)2006-11-04

Ive made one uses lighter fluid and I did not put lines. Put it worked well.

mrbob1000 (author)2006-08-21

you can make them hang from a wire or rope if you make the handle shaped like an upside down v

bigpinecone (author)mrbob10002006-10-18

why are v's so useful? i can always find a way to use a v in a project =P

camscam (author)2006-08-17

this is a good idea. you could get like 10 of these and light and outdoor area 3rd world style!

pluish (author)2006-08-01

yoo silly boy, its so ghetto you have to like it x)

digitalgoddess (author)2006-07-30

cool idea - i'd recommend LEDs as a less-fire-hazardous option also - cutting cool shapes like a dragon or whatnot if you have some serious art skillz would be pretty cool

kl0an (author)2006-07-01

A better and safer way to remove the top of the can is to take some sandpaper and lay it flat on a table, put the top of the can on the sand paper, wrap your hand around the can and sand back and forth. After a few minutes, you'll have sanded away the seam and the lid will lift right out. Nice and clean.

TangMu (author)kl0an2006-07-01

I have also heard that you can use a can opener on the tops of drinks cans to take the top off. However i wanted to keep the top on as its the only part of the can thats flat for the tea light to go on.

sparkyss (author)2006-06-30

i was thinking mabe you could cut the part that was removed. and make it into a fan and put it back on top so it willl spin slowley. idk

TangMu (author)sparkyss2006-07-01

I did try to do this once but i couldnt get a straight axle for the top part to rest on (I was using 3 pieces of wire coming from the base and joining in the middle above the flem, tripod style). Also i'm not sure if the flame would actually casue it to spin as the fan blades would not be directly over the flame. I think i remember trying with a base unit with the fan resting on it and several candle parts around the outside of this but it didnt work (tho that culd be down to poor axle and bearing design O_O

mrbob1000 (author)2006-06-30

whoah i just tried to read over the steps again and it came up with an error messege ERROR 403: can not view: EVBIM6B58BEP2LL7F4

Vermin (author)2006-06-30

Aluminium is naturally quite resistant to oxidation due to the fact that the oxide molecules are bigger than the original metal atoms. Thus it quickly forms an impenetrable layer of oxide on the surface restricting further oxidisation. I'd like to see you try to do this with a steel can! :)

theRIAA (author)2006-06-30

super cool, but is there a way for them to be waterproof? eh, theyll rust anyways

mrbob1000 (author)theRIAA2006-06-30

not if they are tin or aluminum

austin (author)2006-06-30

i like the dr pepper one . the diagonal cuts look cool

admanrocks (author)2006-06-30

thats pretty cool

mrbob1000 (author)2006-06-30

pretty cool idea (i just made one as a gift for a friend) i also love the simplicity

About This Instructable




Bio: A very hairy manchild studying illustration whilst playing around with as many different strange and intersting techniques and still trying to have a good time ... More »
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