Introduction: Ink Removal From Soda Cans

Soda cans are involved in all kinds of "reuse" projects. If you have no idea just use the search bar on the instructable homepage desktop and type in "soda cans" and you received various results with projects where soda cans are reused.

However, if you need the can for some more decorative purpose the inprints on the outside wall of the can makes it useless. Therefore, this instructable demonstrates an easy method for ink removal on soda cans. As a result, you will end up with a can having a nice shiny outer surface as given on the picture. In this instructable a vase for flowers was built (see last step).

Step 1: Materials

Only few materials are needed for this project:

  1. Soda cans
  2. Nail polish remover
  3. Cotton pads
  4. Pressure cooker
  5. Hot plate

Please use various types of soda cans for your first project. Even so the procedure worked for almost all cans some did resist to the procedure.

Step 2: Method

Surfing through the internet you will find some procedure using sandpaper to remove the ink. However, with this procedure you will never end up with the polished shiny outer surface that you want for your decorative reuse project.

During the first attempts, various solvents were used e.g. nail polish remover or pure acetone directly. But as you can see in the attached video none of them did work.

Here is the trick: Put the cans in a pressure cooker for around 20 minutes.


Use the procedure that comes with your pressure cooker for sterilizing liquids. In my case I have to add a little bit of water to cover the bottom of the sterilizer. Then place all soda cans inside and close the lid. On the hot plate, I use maximum power to start (level 6 of 6). As soon as the pressure indicator reaches the second mark (2 of 2) power of the hot plate is reduced immediately to level 2 (level 2 of 6). Sterilize it for around 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes take away the pressure cooker from the hot plate and wait until the pressure is released. Then open the cooker carefully (hot vapor) and take out the cans.

Add some drops of nails polish remover to the cotton pad and start removing the ink.

Step 3: Make Your Reuse Project

As shown in the video the bottom part of the soda can was removed and the lid was opened using a tin-opener. A 300ml PET flask was found that fitted directly into the polished soda can. The PET flask was shortened to the correct length and then fixed into the soda can with hot glue.

I hope you like this creative reuse of a soda can which turned into a vase for flowers.


godbacon (author)2017-09-09

Thank You

Mags Gilley (author)2016-12-31

WTH, is this about us Americans or is it about removing the ink? I would like to know if you could put them in a dishwasher and get the same results? Stop with the comments about other stuff and stick to the point please. I'm more interested in the removal of ink on cans.


I would not place the soda cans in the dish
washer after they have been pretreated in the pressure cooker.

Two reasons: Your dish washer is working with
detergents. This will not remove the ink. You need some kind of solvent like
Acetone, Ethanol, Nail Polish Remover etc. even after the pretreatement in the pressure cooker. The second reason is that even if
the ink would be removed in the dish washer you would flushed the ink down the
drain. From there it would flow into the sludge treatment of your local community.
Usually they are not prepared to remove this pollution from the water. It is in
my opinion better to remove the ink with cotton pads. Then the ink stays on
the pads and you dispose it in the garbage. The garbage then goes to the incinerator
and the ink will stick to some filter.


I think she's asking about using the dishwasher in stead of the pressure cooker - as it too heats the cans - not in stead of nail polish remover.
I wonder if oven would do the trick... I assume it's some sort of plastic covering over the print to protect hands from staining, that is being removed with the steam.


I don't think it is working with the dishwasher or the oven alone. But as long as there is no experiment -> we don't know.

The theorie is like this: The ink of the soda can does adsorb a little bit of the saturated steam coming from the pressure cooker. After the ink has adsorbed this moisture it becomes susceptible to solvents (acetone, ethanol etc.).

Soda cans where the ink is protected with a too thick layer of lacquer cannot adsorb humidity and then it gets hard to remove it as good as it is shown in the video. Hope this helps.

daniel orourke (author)2017-04-06

hi I try to do it I have a electric pressure cooker I put the cans in and set to steam canning cook mode for a haft Hr I took cans out and rup with nail polish remover nothing happen thank you

Ketutar (author)daniel orourke2017-04-26

I would like to know what kind of nail polish remover you used. Some are milder than others, and I can imagine you need acetone or other such.


Yes some solvent is needed even after the treatment in the pressure cooker. Beside acetone you can also try alcohol (Ethanol) at a higher concentration (70%).


It would be helpfull if you share pictures of the soda cans you tested unsuccessfully.

exfftx11 (author)2017-01-18

Your comment about "pharmacist/chemist" reminded me of our American Congress' decision to rename "illegal aliens" to "undocumented immigrants". One of the internet wits stated that it was equivalent to renaming "illegal drug dealers" to "unregistered pharmacists". How would that fit into U.K. lingo? LOL

PaulaS120 (author)2017-01-18

Can you use the can without the glass flask? Maybe adding some glass pebbles for weight

seamster (author)2016-11-08

This is really good to know!

I've had a few project ideas in the back of my mind for used soda cans, and this could come in handy. Thanks! :)


the easiest project is this one ....... smile


Thank you so much for this great instructable! Now, I just have to find my pressure cooker!

janaltus (author)2016-11-10

It's interesting that you say this method works with some cans but not others. I've noticed, when I've been in the USA and been making solar collectors, that some drinks cans are made of steel and some are made of aluminium - or aluminum, as the Americans misspell it ;-)

I wonder if the material with which the can is made affects the adhesiveness of the paint (and whether it works with nail varnish remover that contains no acetone)?

Anyway, a brilliant contribution I'm certain to use very soon, many thanks!

Mo Poppins (author)janaltus2016-11-10

I recently learned that the British choice of "aluminium" is based on keeping with the nomenclature pattern of other elements (uraNIUM, plutoNIUM, etc.). Makes more sense...just as it makes better sense to use the metric system than the imperial system. Americans.

Do we in The States say "aluminum" because there was once some dude who couldn't pronounce words, and it just caught on? Kinda like a past president who couldn't pronounce "nuclear," so now we have even journalists saying "nyoo-kyu-luhr." Then again, language is fluid so I guess it doesn't matter, as long as there are enough of us who accept and adopt the changes.

Jerry66 (author)Mo Poppins2016-11-10

My young American grandson has trouble pronouncing aluminum, but he has no problems pronouncing aluminium. Being a 70 year old American, I can remember going to the "theatre" as a child . It was spelled that way in the U.S. then. To me, theatre seems the correct way to spell it, because that is what I was taught. In any case, I find the whole discussion to be unnecessary. We all believe that we are correct, and this is directly related to where we were born. Neither is correct, nor incorrect. In the end, all of us know what the other is trying to say. It just bugs us somehow??? Now, the metric system is another thing entirely! Americans intuitively know what a pound feels like, or how long a foot or mile is. However, it is much easier to multiply by a 1 with zeros, than 12, or 16, etc. We just have to get used to it, just as the UK had to do.

SkipT1 (author)Jerry662016-11-10

Actually, many Americans have no idea how long a foot or a mile are. These things are not taught in school anymore (at least my grandkids have never been exposed to them) so why would they? The whole American system of weights and measures is absurd. Feet, rods, fathoms, acres, miles, yards, quarts, gallons, pounds, ounces, and how about teaspoons and tablespoons! The metric system neatly makes all of of it so simple that most ten-year-olds have it down.

Quick: How many tablespoons of water in a cubic foot? :)

Jerry66 (author)SkipT12016-11-14

By using the word intuitively, I meant that Americans can pretty much tell how long a foot is by holding their hands apart. They can come close to knowing when there is a pound of something in their hand. I did not mean they know how many feet in a mile or any other kind of conversion. The metric system makes total sense, but Americans will not intuitively know when they are holding 1 kilogram in their hands etc. They, like the Brits, will just have to get used to it.

gjp627. (author)Jerry662016-12-23

Jerry. I as an american know exactly what a kilo my youth I bought certain tobacco substances by the is 2.2 pounds american or $100 Mexican red leg in 1969

FunLife3315 (author)Jerry662016-11-15

Us aussies know what a kilo is, and a kilometre/metre, but as an Australian, I will never ever know how America does it.

ct2193 (author)FunLife33152016-12-14

Find any American stoner and the term "Kilo" is very well understood.

PattyP17 (author)FunLife33152016-11-20

Measuring the US way is just as native to us as the mertic system is to others. Changing to metric would be like learning a new foreign language. I'll never do it. I'd have to convert all my old cooking recipes. not worth the trouble. I cannot think in metric, just ads I cannot think in any language I am not fluent in. I stored up on US measurement containers, dreading the day conversion is ordered. We already use metric in medical and scientific endeavors.

dlp678 (author)PattyP172016-12-12

would not have to convert old cooking recipes -- many measuring cups already have metric on one side and American on the other. Can be used whether the recipe calls for 1 cup or 250 ml.

Rulers have inches and centimeters. Even most cars have the speedometer showing both miles per hour and kilometers per hour. As long as you have a measuring device for the units you need, you can use any system that exists.

Conversion would be a lot easier than people think as conversions for the most part is unnecessary - remember 1974 when the price of gas went up above $1 a gallon and stations sold gas by the liter until they got new pumps? after a day or two nobody complained .. why? we looked at the price per liter to compare gas prices...who cared about gallons if the prices were not listed per gallon?

If you own a foreign car, you purchase metric parts and tools- no conversion or math needed.

gjp627. (author)SkipT12016-11-10

1900 Tbs or so in a cubic foot, but what does this prove, I wonder...maybe I am such a younger man at 65 yrs. old that I cannot comprehend what ever it is you all are driving at. For years I had to work in both metric and SAE without bothering to ask why, thought it was just a choice of two nations

ct2193 (author)gjp627.2016-12-14

Actually, seeing your post makes me think of the one single annoyance I have with the design of measures... Ounces. It's volume and weight and depending upon where your cooking recipes come from, it's not always clear which they mean. 4oz water. Probably volume. 4oz lard. Maybe weight. 4oz shredded cheese... Um... Well... I've encountered some that mean volume and some that mean weight. The larger the number, the more detrimental the quantity discrepancy.

gjp627. (author)ct21932016-12-23

I find that to be confusing too. liquid is usually volume and solids are suppose to be measured in weight, but who knows what the cook does, except maybe...the butcher's wife

ct2193 (author)SkipT12016-12-14

It could be worse. We could still be using Cubits, which isn't a fixed length. I can imaging the conversation now... Speaking to your 12yr old... "Go fetch me the 20 cubit extension cord." Of course the term "Mile" still causes problems depending upon where you are. "How far away is that highway overpass? About a mile. Then on your boat, how far away from land are we? A mile you say? That's not the same distance as the sign on the highway. And so on.

FunLife3315 (author)SkipT12016-11-15

Eh. same, I believe that America should just stop being so conservative of old and complicated measurements (fahrenheit especially) and use metric

Jerry66 (author)FunLife33152016-11-20

I agree, and I'm an old fart from America! Who can't multiply by 10, 100, or 1,000? Water freezing at O C. and water boiling at 100 C. Easy! As far as how something is spelled (spelt), or pronounced, I don't think it matters. Spilt milk! Or is it spilled milk? Who cares? My dog's name is Phydeaux.

FunLife3315 (author)Jerry662016-11-24

I will never ever understand farenhiet. How do you convert it?

Jerry66 (author)FunLife33152016-11-26

To convert F to C, subtract 32 and then multiply by 5/9. To convert C to F, add 32 and multiply by 9/5. If that's not cumbersome, I don't know what is; In the US, that is taught in the 5th grade (I think). By summer break, we all forget about it.

Mo Poppins (author)Jerry662016-11-20 it. :) Visually, it looks like the name of a god or superhero. A cheeky twist on the the most pedestrian of dog names--like the canine counterpart of "John Doe."

Mo Poppins (author)Jerry662016-11-10

There's a learning curve to most things, and I think we should just suck it up and accept that the metric system is better. We should start with the new generation, since kids, being blank canvases, won't provide resistance--they can learn both systems, and it won't be a big deal because they have to memorize all kinds of things, anyway. I wouldn't say Americans intuitively understand the imperial system--it was learned early on, and then it became second nature.

I also like when "theatre" is spelled that way. It's an aesthetic choice. It also looks (and feels) more beautiful to me when "color" is spelled "colour."

People need to stop being so myopic about their discomfort in learning something new as adults. Resistance is what intensifies the pain--we need to be like water, as Bruce Lee famously said.

PattyP17 (author)Mo Poppins2016-11-20

Resistance is doie to the fact that people like em see no need for change in thier everyday life, plus all the retooling every industry that creates products based on the Imperial system would have to make. We cannot keep our highways in good repair as it is, and changing to metric would mean replacing every speedometer, every highway sign, and there are millions of both. Oh, sure we could change in an instant. The cost would be prohibitive to full employ it though.

ct2193 (author)PattyP172016-12-14

I'm cool with KpH as long as our 70MPH doesn't slow down to 70KPH. But... remember if we move from 5MPH to 5KPH over the limit before a ticket, you now have less slack.

FunLife3315 (author)Mo Poppins2016-11-15

How very true. I had to learn a new language, and because I was a child when I learnt it, I now speak fluent german

FunLife3315 (author)Mo Poppins2016-11-15

I wonder what, say maybe german, would be like if it was allowed to decay and absorb English, or English and chinese, ore pretty much any two languages

ct2193 (author)FunLife33152016-12-14

I've never "Learned" German, but I find that the phonetics of my American pronunciation of the letters can usually get me by enough to glean the general concept of what's being said when I use software that is in German only.

Dwarde (author)Mo Poppins2016-11-14

I think that aluminium was originally named aluminum by its discovery, Sir Humphry, who only settled on aluminium some years later because others felt that it should have the form of other elements, as noted above. However, the Americans (not unreasonably) took the view that it had been already been officially named and tended to stick with aluminum. So unlike most words that are spelled differently in America, it is not as a result of Noah Webster's spelling reforms. I realise this takes us

DanL151 (author)Mo Poppins2016-11-10

What about platinum? Platinium? I read once its discoverer wrote to his US colleagues naming it aluminum, but European scientists applied the "nium" standard.

topazlja (author)janaltus2016-11-10

Both spellings of aluminum/aluminium are correct. Aluminum is the American spelling and aluminium is the British spelling.

hollasch (author)topazlja2016-11-10

"Aluminum"/"aluminium" will be decided by coin toss. Americans win with "truck", "trunk", "color", "honor", "theater", "program", "apartment", "pharmacy", "cotton candy" and "mail" (though must use "mail office" after that). UK wins "football", "queue", "timetable" (vs. "schedule"), "lift", "loo", "ice lolly", and "mobile phone". Both sides lose "chips"/"french fries".

SkipT1 (author)hollasch2016-11-10

Sorry, the UK definitely wins the "chips/French fries" contest. Fish and French fries? Not happening! :) (Live in the US; been to the UK.)

ct2193 (author)SkipT12016-12-14

But I like chips with my sandwich. I don't want "Crisps" with my sandwich.

PattyP17 (author)SkipT12016-11-20

Chips are thin slices of fried potatoes, corn or veggies in the U.S., like one buys in a bag for snacking. "Fries" are fried potato sticks. Many places dropped the word "French" years ago. Biscuits are doughy rounds baked of flour to eat with eggs and bacon at breakfast. Cookies are sweet crispy sweets. Just because you are raised one way does not make it better or right, just different. Some people autoimatically create the idea that if youb aren't like me, don't think like me, you are wrong. Tolerance, please.

FunLife3315 (author)SkipT12016-11-15

Shoot and score: IT IS COLOUR! (google says it is more common)

ct2193 (author)hollasch2016-12-14

Yes, but depending upon your pronunciation, the "proper" grammar in sentence structure changes with words like "Historic." When the H is pronounced, it is correct to say "A historic event." When the H is silent, it becomes "An historic event" (Pronounced "An iss-tor-ic event.")

Or at least that's what my english professor cousin tells me.

(Not my cousin) Back in grade school, I say "OK teacher... I before E except after C... So how do you explain the word Science?" to receive an answer that "Science" isn't an English word.

Though how can UK win Football? They're using a Soccer ball! (ha ha ha)

aunt margie (author)hollasch2016-11-10

What do you mean by "wins"? I am American and have no idea what "mail office" might mean. And who wins for the "deep-fried potato strips" and what do they call them??

PhilipC31 (author)aunt margie2016-11-10

what you call fried potatoe strips we call Chips, as long as they are not skinny as French fries, what you call potatoe chips we call crisps, mail office is the post office where you go to send snail mail "letters" or parcels, you go to the sorting office to pick up letters or parcels when the postman cannot be bothered to deliver

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