Introduction: Ink Removal From Soda Cans

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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.


kathug55 (author)2016-11-10

Aren't the cans too hot to handle manually, after having been in the pressure cooker? How did you get round this?

I did not make this clear during the Video (sorry). But there is absolutely no need to work while the cans are still hot. Just let them cool down and then start working with the solvent (or nail polish remover)

I guess the main factor in the experiment comes from the few drops of coca cola left in the cans. (Joke) Thanks for the sharing!

... yeah maybe the pH reduction from cola is the point

the cans are low in mass (weight) and high in surface area... SO...

They will cool down really quickly.... seconds..

nancyjaneyoung (author)2017-11-06

Wonderful idea! It has made me want to buy a pressure cooker. A few questions though, if you please. Do you need to put the nail polish remover on the tins before you put them in the pressure cooker, or just afterwards? Secondly, if you leave the bottom on the tin and just remove the top, will the inside eventually rust while using it as a vase?? Lastly, can you suggest some other uses for these shiny tins? Thank you

1.) There is no pretreatment of the cans required before the pressure cooker. After the cans have been exposed to pressure cooker you use the solvent (nail polish remover).

2.) The inside will not rust. The inside of an aluminum can or tube is coated too otherwise the liquid e.g. beer would be exposed directly to aluminum which would then leach into your beverage.

3.) See my other instructable how to make a wind spinner:

I don't think putting flammable liquid in a pressure cooker is a good idea...

pat_pending (author)MichaelAtOz2017-11-12

The author is not saying that. The pressure cooker is for sterilising / getting the old soda out of the cans

It was just that, on his clip the author had shown that the nail polish remover did not remove the ink until after the pressure cooker bath. It did not show whether or not he washe the can prior to boiling it in the cooker :)

.... there is not pretreatment needed at all ....

In the comments here he keeps talking about saturated steam bath (in the pressure cooker).

Again, flammable liquid under pressure would be BAD if there was a failure and any sparks or flame nearby. (ie explosive atmosphere - see

Miniature_Music (author)2017-11-10

I have done this except I didn't use a pressure cooker but lightly torched it with some flaming methylated spirits then use nail polish remover and it came out shiny as silver

... hey cool - after some many views to this instructable you are the first one presenting a constructive new way - I will definitely test it for shure .. thanks for your feedback

nancyjaneyoung (author)2017-11-08

Ron, we probably should not be using this website for our philosophical discussions. Do they have a 'let's learn about' how to go off topic?? Respectfully, Your classmate :)

JerryL1206 (author)2017-11-06

However, if I remove all the ink, I can't get my deposit back!

And, at 5 cents a tin, that really is a major consideration :) Your post gave me a good laugh. I was thinking of the price of purchasing the pressure cooker!!

RonGarza (author)nancyjaneyoung2017-11-07

It's not tin (a cookie), Nancy (Mother), it's aluminum (a Fig Newton).

nancyjaneyoung (author)RonGarza2017-11-08

Ron, I am a Canadian! I was trying to be funny as well... My thought process was the same as yours, but different!! In Canada the difference between commercials and advertisements is that commercials are watched while advertisements are read. Mostly I call them TIN CANS even though I know that they are made from aluminum . My cheeky reference to Nancy Mother was to point out that, in our convents [I am a Catholic} the leader is called Mother. So I commented the words should be inverted :) And finally, Fig Newtons are sold in Canada; but I do not like them \yuckkkie/ I think that, sometimes, my humour is only funny to me ???? It is better to hear my humour, rather than read it :)

RonGarza (author)nancyjaneyoung2017-11-08

Hi, Nancy. I understand, texts don't carry the intent like the spoken language does. Emoticons try to help but fall short. I WAS chaffing you on the use of the word "tin". BTW, we don't use the word chaffing (teasing) nor cheeky (brash) here either. I've traveled the world.

I endured 8 years of parochial school, Mother Superior and her gang of physical child abusers,

Also BTW, I found the Fig Newton TV commercial on Youtube; it's a hoot!

Laters, (I mean, Cheers!)

RonGarza (author)RonGarza2017-11-08

Nancy, I was trying to be funny. We (Americans) used to get an advert (we call them TV commercials here) where the child would justify to his mother that it was okay because he was not actually eating a cookie (a biscuit, across the pond). We use the word "can" instead of "tin", hence my It's not a cookie, Mother, its a Fig Newton (It's not a tin, Nancy, it's a luminum).

nancyjaneyoung (author)RonGarza2017-11-07

Well, am sitting in front of this computer, but I stand corrected....I do not like Fig Newton biscuits, so I would not even try to respond :). By the way, the Mother is written before Nancy in most cloistered convents!! like this: The Reverend Mother Nancy but just call me when the stew is ready to eat....

I'm glad I could put a smile on your face. Mission accomplished. ;-)

KISELIN (author)JerryL12062017-11-07

Buahahhaa.... You gave me a good laugh :)) But couldn't You "reprint" the "bar-code" bad.. e.g. my printer want print on round surface neither will it stick on aluminium :)) joke, joke, but true

RonGarza (author)2017-11-06

I've had a Hamilton Beach can opener for years now. It cuts the side of the lid, leaving a very clean edge. Great product!

BTW, the lid and the inside of the can is also coated with something -- 2 voltmeter probes will not pass a current on any surface of the can. Once you split the can (like by pushing the tab in), then you can pass a current along the edges.

Heating the can probably weakens the inside coating too.

ElectroFrank (author)RonGarza2017-11-07

Aluminium is a good electrical conductor - but when exposed to air, the surface immediately oxidises, and aluminium oxide is an insulator. So to get contact, press the pointed tip of your probe slightly into the metal.

RonGarza (author)ElectroFrank2017-11-07

Thanks for the heads up, ElectroFrank. I tried "scraping" the lid with just paper and that did not help conductivity. Now, I have scraped the lid with sandpaper and the current does flow. It has been an hour and no signs of oxidation (the current is still flowing). This may take a few days. I will report my experience. Anybody is welcomed to shadow me in this test.

ElectroFrank (author)RonGarza2017-11-07

The aluminium oxide film that forms in contact with air is only few a few atoms thick, but this prevents further oxidation. Being thin, it is reasonably easy to get through, but this layer is very hard. Aluminium oxide (with a binder) is used in grindstones that will sharpen hard metals.

RonGarza (author)ElectroFrank2017-11-07

It's been a few hours and the sanded part is still letting a current go through (the original un-sanded surface is not). I also checked some stock I've had laying around for years (a round aluminum tube, a 1" x 1" aluminum angle a bit over a foot long, and a C-cross section aluminum trim channel ) and they all pass a current. So they do not have a coating, and their oxidation if any is not hindering the current flow. But keep me honest and try this on your side.

Mickleblade (author)2017-11-06

Is heat the main cause of this working? if so it'd be easier with a heat gun

jimgarbe (author)2016-11-17

First of all, I would like to congratulate the creator of this "Instructable," for a job well done! I'm cooking cans now.

Secondly, I found this to be one of the best and funniest digressions of subject to English language-ever! I recently moved to Tennessee and have found an innner language to English-US-Appalachian. BTW, narrator sounds Swedish or German.

mcgypsy9 (author)jimgarbe2017-11-06

Narrator is in Switzerland according to his profile

taur561 (author)2016-11-12

I wonder if soaking the cans in a caustic soda solution would not get the same results without pressure cooking . Caustic soda needs to be handled carefully but is very useful for stripping paint . It is a key ingredient in paint stripper . I would immerse the cans in a plastic bucket and cover them with a solution of caustic soda and warm water for a few hours and then rinse them in clean water afterwards .

CflM (author)taur5612016-11-13

2Al + 2NaOH + 2H2O - 2NaAlO2 + 3H2 /^

And, further, hydrogen gas is highly flammable (just see what happened to the Zeppelin).

jwzumwalt (author)CflM2017-11-06

Yes, the paint used on the Zeppelin was a mixture of iron and aluminum oxide - which was later used as rocket propellant. There is some photographic evidence that static electricity sparked the paint at the rear back side. Zeppelin became aware of this after the accident and went to great length to cover the mistake up so they were not held liable.

taur561 (author)CflM2016-11-14

You mean " KABOOM !!!!" ?.. Maybe in a well ventilated area ?. .

jwzumwalt (author)taur5612017-11-06

I am an a retired A&P mechanic. Caustic soda will not work - it attacks the aluminum. Mechanics must use other means (solvent) to clean oily aluminum case aircraft engines. Car engines (steel & iron) can be boiled in caustic soda.

phil_lo (author)2016-11-17

This is great!

I'm wondering if a heated ultrasonic tank would work as well/ if not better than a pressure cooker? Has anyone tried this?

jwzumwalt (author)phil_lo2017-11-06

Ultrasonic won't work. One of the ways you test the quality of a ultrasonic tank is to put thin aluminum in it and see if it starts to disintegrate it after a minute or so. Aluminum is very sensitive to "work hardening" which in layman's language means bending (vibration). That's why airplanes are sent to the bone yard after a certain number of years.

al7mi1 (author)2017-11-06

Well done! For a few years now been harvesting scrap aluminum from soda cans yet only able to use one side until your Instructable. Thanks!

laith mohamed (author)2017-11-06

Thanks for share

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%).

About This Instructable



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