Introduction: Pocket-Sized "Air"osol Can

Picture of Pocket-Sized "Air"osol Can

Have some small empty aerosol cans lying around your house, but don't want to throw them away?

Well, here's some good news! I'll show you how to convert it into a refillable "Air"-osol can (literally - it uses compressed AIR) so you can use it as a personal emergency misting device, flamethrower, or simply something to cool you off with.

If you like this instructable, please vote for me in the new Pocket-Sized contest! I could really use a leatherman :D

As a side note, if this instructable looks really long and complicated, it's not, really. I just made it really detailed and informative so that it's foolproof XD

Step 1: Gather Tools and Materials

Picture of Gather Tools and Materials

1. An empty mini AXE deodorant can*
2. 2 inch long tire valve**
3. 1/2" PVC slip-on endcap
4. 1/2" PVC pipe - just enough to fill the length of the endcap completely
5. Electrical tape
6. 2 regular-sized rubber bands (not shown)
7. A disposable glove - you don't want to get any of that glue on your hands, do you? XD
  • I used this just because I found an empty can just lying on the ground (yeah, lucky! :D). You could probably substitute a similar can for more air volume if you wanted to.

**just a tip: if you know anyone who owns a car repair shop or if you know a friendly one, just come up and ask them if they have any discarded ones, because they might give you them free! (I got mine free! :D)


1. PVC pipe cutter or hacksaw
2. Dremel tool with small drill/ suitable attachment - well, you want to make a 3/4-1"-ish hole in the bottom of the AXE can
3. A hand file that's rounded on one side - if you want to further fine-tune the roundness of the hole, which is not totally necessary (optional)
4. Scissors
5. PVC cement
6. PL Premium Adhesive cartridge, OR superglue, epoxy putty, etc - something that can bind PVC to metal)
7. A caulking gun - if you're using PL Premium
8. Bicycle pump - better if it has a built-in pressure gauge. (not pictured)

Step 2: Drill a Hole in the Bottom of the Can

Picture of Drill a Hole in the Bottom of the Can

Take your trusty Dremel tool, and attach a small drill bit - best if rated for the dremel's high speed and for cutting metal - to the chuck.

First, make sure the AXE can (or similar) is EMPTY before you puncture it.

Then, drill a hole that's about as big (no bigger) as the inner diameter of the PVC endcap mentioned in the materials. You can do this because the of the dremel's high speed - once you drill through the can, just force the bit into the edges of your hole while it's spinning and it will enlarge the hole.

You may have to use the rounded file (also mentioned in the materials) to make the hole more circular and smooth.

Step 3: Cut the Pipe and Cement It to the Cap

Picture of Cut the Pipe and Cement It to the Cap

Take your 1/2" PVC pipe.

Insert it into the endcap as far in as you can.

Then, mark the part of the pipe that touches the endcap lip.

Take the pipe out of the endcap.

Cut it at the mark you made earlier. It should be about an inch long.

Apply PVC Cement to both surfaces - the outside of your new pipe section and the inside of the endcap.

Re-insert your 1- inch pipe section into the endcap, making sure to twist it all the way in.

Wipe off any excess cement.

The end result should look like the first picture.

Step 4: Drill Another Hole

Picture of Drill Another Hole

Drill another hole, this time in the bottom of the endcap (with the same bit).

Make sure to make it a tad bit larger than the middle of the "tube" section of the tire valve.

Smoothen it.

Step 5: Tape the Tire Valve to Size

Picture of Tape the Tire Valve to Size

Wind your electrical tape around the middle-ish part of the tube section of the valve, checking the fit with the hole you made in Step 4.

Once the combined diameter of the tape and the valve tube is the same (pretty tight) as the hole, it's enough.

Step 6: Assemble and Check Fits

Picture of Assemble and Check Fits

Insert the valve into the back of the endcap-pipe assembly pump-end first, as shown in the pictures, until the touches the pipe part.

You may have to really squeeze the taped end into the hole.

Then, put that whole thing on top of the bottom (yeah, confusing?) of the can.

If everything looks like the picture, you're ready to move on to the gluing.

If not, look back at the other steps.

Step 7: Apply Glue

Picture of Apply Glue

First, put the disposable gloves on.

Take an about 1/2" sized (just an estimate) bead of glue - PL Premium Adhesive if you're using it - and spread it along the what's left of the bottom of the can - the doughnut, not on the inside. (refer to the first picture)

What you're going to do is put the endcap assembly on the bottom of the can like you did in the previous step, so apply the glue in that area.

Take the valve out of the endcap from the previous step, and smear glue evenly along the 'top' side of the bulge (the side closer to the valve cap). Also, spread glue along the full area of the circumference of the electrical tape that was wound in Step 5.

Re-insert the valve into the endcap the way you did before.

With the endcap assembly (including the valve), you'll want to smear another bead of glue - slightly larger than the first - all around the sides of the valve bulge and around the surface formed by the pipe and endcap. This is shown in the second picture.

Step 8: Assemble Permanently

Picture of Assemble Permanently

Put all the parts back together like you did in Step 6, making sure no parts slip, especially the valve.

When everything is in place, smear more glue along the seams; make sure there are absolutely NO cracks or gaps.

Step 9: Attach Rubberbands and Let Dry

Picture of Attach Rubberbands and Let Dry

You'll probably want to keep the assembly tight together somehow, long enough to let it dry:

Take one of the rubber bands and wrap it around one side of the valve, and take the other end of the rubber band and twist it once. Then, stretch it down to the spray button on the can and hook it around that. Do the same with the other rubber band, in the other direction.

Sorry if this is not clear... it's all a little hard to explain, but I hope the pictures help out. :D

And finally, the hardest part - let it dry for a full 24 hours.

Step 10: Pump It Up!

Picture of Pump It Up!

Unscrew the tire valve cap, and hook it up to your pump.

Pump it up until the gauge reads about 35-40 PSI. You probably shouldn't pressurize it more than 50 PSI.

Check for leaks. If there are any, it might work if you seal it up with more PL Premium (I don't know for sure if this will help) and let it dry.

Detach the air-osol can. (Yay, you can finally call it that!)

Spray to your heart's content (or until the air runs out)!!

Step 11: Possible Uses

You could hook this up to an air horn that doesn't require a lot of pressure to blow. Well, you ask, how? Fortunately, if you are using an AXE can, it is to my knowledge that you can simply pry off the spray button and there will be a little plastic tube like thing that you might be able to attach to an air horn. I've already tested Kipkay's homemade one with this, but it seems that there isn't enough air force to actually sound the horn. :( BUT, if you find a solution, please tell me! I'll add it to this instructable.

However, one thing that kind of works is opening the valve by pushing the plastic tube thing down with your fingernal, and then running water into the hole (it's going to flow over and around it, too) until you can feel water in the can. Then, you pump it and spray.

EDIT (thanks electro!): You can get a simple tool that will unscrew the centre (the little steel plunger) of the tyre valve you fitted on the bottom. You then invert the can, pour in the contents, replace the valve core, pressurise and go!!

Also, just a concept, you might be able to feed butane/propane/alcohol into the plastic tip by pushing it down (thus opening the valve) (EDIT: or utilizing electro's idea) and squirting your fuel into the can, and then pumping it, but I haven't tried this.

Experiment, and have fun! :D

If you have more ideas, please comment and I'll add them to this instructable.

EDIT (thanks pineapplenewton!): Use it as an air duster!


DEEJAY642 (author)2015-11-17

quite creative i love it!

Ignis27 (author)2013-08-12

pepper spray :P

nateroc (author)2012-12-13

Drill another clean hold in the side of the can and put a threaded part on it that has a clear hold through it, not sure what the proper part name is, but one that you can put a cap on, possibly one that's meant for an airbrush valve should be copper or brass so you can put plumbers tape on it to keep it a tight seal, mix up some thinned acrylic paint add some ink stainer in it once it looks good and the right color use a funnel and pour it into the can close the screw cap fill it up with pressure from the bottom and you have your custom mini spray paint can. =) I haven't really seen anyone do an instructable on making a Aerosol can belt, similar to the molotow one, it's be cool to make, easy to make, but it's be easy to do an instructable too and put some measurements and diagrams for the cutting... Now when posting ontop of someone's post you have to scroll up the darn page to type in the RECAPTCHA than scroll back down to post, lame.

ilpug (author)2011-09-21

i dont think this is entirely safe.

MadBricoleur (author)ilpug2011-09-24

It hasn't blown up on me just yet.

ilpug (author)MadBricoleur2011-09-24

i hate to double post, but is there some way one could introduce a liquid into this can so it will spray it out?

MadBricoleur (author)ilpug2011-09-24

yep! Someone told me (I think in one of the below comments) to use a valve core remover to remove the schrader's valve stem, which leaves a hole to fill it up with water. Then, simply replace the valve stem and pump it up, then use.

ilpug (author)MadBricoleur2011-09-25

awesome, i should have thought of that. i'm going to try this. possibly make my own graffiti paint!

MadBricoleur (author)ilpug2011-11-08

lol, don't go vandalizing, now.

ilpug (author)MadBricoleur2011-11-09

I don't go vandalizing, I go making art!

jongscx (author)ilpug2011-11-10

Artistic or not, it's vandalizing if you don't have express permission by the property owner...

Otherwise, I support street art in all its forms.

ilpug (author)jongscx2011-11-10

You live your life, I will live mine :) nice can though.

ilpug (author)MadBricoleur2011-09-24

I don't expect it to blow up, but it still just looks like something that i would handle gingerly if i had it. good idea though.

colorex (author)2011-03-14

Hey dude
I got 18 AXE cans saved for inventions. I would prefer using the original spray valve (opens when pressed down), just making an adapter for it . It would be safer than having an AXE can go BOOM in your hand or face.

I wanted pressure calculations, so this is what I came up with:

The can comes with 150ml deodorant.
The can's volume is 200ml
That means that 50 ml (actually a little more) is compressed propane in a new bottle.
When the can is empty, the propane is at atmospheric pressure (15 PSI), and occupies 200 ml.
That means when the propane is compressed from 200ml to 50ml it reduces to 1/4 it's volume, thus (if the temperature is the same) its at 4 times it's original pressure
That is 15 PSI * 4 = 60 PSI Very Safe Pressure FOR AN UNMODIFIED CAN

These calculations are very rough, because the can actually releases a lot of propane while spraying, and an empty bottle might still have gas left inside.
I suppose that they fill at 75 PSI.

Another test method would be:
Dig a hole about 75 cm down, get a long extension for your compressor, and put the can in the hole. Get pressure into the can. Keep an eye on the PSI meter and stay away from the hole. When the can goes BOOM check your PSI meter and subtract 10-15 PSI to get a safe pressure level due to heat expansion.

Nice 'ible BTW

MadBricoleur (author)colorex2011-03-14

Hey thanks a lot :) awesome to see someone take such a liking to my ible.

I've pumped the can up to 60 PSI with no problems... i guess the bond is good. But those safety rec's are helpful.

If you do manage to make an axe valve adapter so you don't have to hack out the can, please post an ible! I'm sure I and others would love it. On a side note, though, if you're going to do that much to an AXE can, you might as well somehow attach it to a soda bottle or other bigger (whip cream or air-duster size, or aerosol suntan lotion) container. It would just be more useful that way, and you could fill it with paint, alcohol (flamethrower, anyone?), or chemicals to kill pests and weeds, etc.

colorex (author)MadBricoleur2011-03-15

LOL You're welcome!

lemminggenocide (author)2010-07-06

the endcap is unnecessary. you could just drill out the base of the aerosol and epoxy a schrader in.

how would you epoxy a tire valve in, with its huge bulk in the back? I mean, how would you get it in there in the first place? please excuse my idiocy if there is a solution. XD

excused. - There are smaller tire valves available. - the endcap doesn't actually increase the area of the base, and the stem of the valve is smaller than the area on the bottom of an axe can ..........

well i knew that the endcap doesn't increase the volume of air, but it gave more surface area for the glue to adhere to, thus spreading the force and minimizing the chance of the glue suddenly breaking under pressure. And, on second thought, about smaller tire valves - yes... i guess you could do so by cutting off a section of the rubber (reducing the bulge size) on the stem to reveal the metal underneath, and epoxy that part to the can. good idea. I guess I was just overly cautious about the whole thing just blowing apart, so I took extra measures.

Teensy Doodles (author)2010-03-06


toogers (author)2009-11-15

nice, but good idea alert! take small rubber hose, and make a backpack reservoir for it!

MadBricoleur (author)toogers2009-11-16

hmm, that's pretty cool. The hose would need to be really strong to stand pressures, though. I'm working on an air-o-sol can using a soda bottle and some pvc parts and a tire valve that's refillable by just removing the bottle from the whole assembly and putting water in and pumping it up. Once I'm done, (I don't know when - it's been a long time since I worked on it) I'll post  something about it. Not sure about an 'ible, but maybe a slideshow

weaponscollector94 (author)2009-10-14

hey! nice idea i am totally going to build one! btw how do you fill it?i am noy sure how

hey is this adrian? if you're not adrian never mind me asking so... XD but if you want to fill it with something other than air, the comments below this helped me figure out how to do that. I edited the ible to include those tips, and they're at the very end. If just air, hook it up to a bike pump and pump it up, and press the squirt button.

i am not adrian, but ok, i got an idea how to fill it with water btw

ooh okay then sorry nvm. so did i answer your question?

i kinda developed my own method! i am going to build one soon, i just ran out of axe!

sounds great! :) good luck!

smokebox (author)2009-07-15

Very thoughtful, and easier than trying to refill a spray can by using a vacuum pump. I would probably replace the tape around the tire valve by continuing to fill in the spaces with PL adhesive or possibly RTV cement or Plumber's Goop, although I don't know if that would be any more secure.

MadBricoleur (author)smokebox2009-07-20

Thanks for the positive comment :D.p.s. will you vote for me?

smokebox (author)MadBricoleur2009-07-25

I voted for you. Not to be a killjoy, but you might want to add a warning to your Instructable that the components in this type of project might dissolve if they are exposed to certain strong solvents like those you find in spray paint, such as toluene, acetone, or certain kinds of alcohol, etc., for example. I've found that it can take time for solvents to soften or dissolve adhesives, plastics, and rubber, so I wouldn't want to load the sprayer and then put it in a shirt pocket or leave it on a car dashboard that's going to be exposed to some intense sunlight without knowing if everything will hold together and the project wasn't going to suddenly come apart a few minutes, hours, or several days later. Other than that I'm already collecting the parts to build this!

MadBricoleur (author)smokebox2009-08-10

Oh... I wasn't aware of that. Thanks for the warning. I'm going to add that. Also, it's good to know there's someone who actually likes this 'ible enough to build it... :D Thanks.

MadBricoleur (author)smokebox2009-07-19

oh, and by the way, what's this about using a vacuum pump? Never heard of that!

smokebox (author)MadBricoleur2009-07-20

I've used a Harbor Freight brand hand-operated vacuum pump that comes in a car "brake bleeding" kit to create a vacuum inside of an empty aerosol can. Then if you submerge the stem of the can beneath the surface of whatever liquid you want to refill it with and press the stem far enough to open the valve that's built into the can, the liquid will replace the vacuum, as long as the stem isn't being sealed by whatever your pressing it against (such as the bottom of a glass filled with WD40). To make a connector (reduction fitting) between the can and the vacuum pump I used a tire valve stem with the lower end drilled out just far enough to make a snug fit along the outside diameter of the stem of the can, leaving a smaller diameter shoulder inside the tire valve stem to press against the top of the can stem so that when you press down on the tire valve stem the stem of the can will move down completely to open the valve in the can. It's also necessary to remove the valve that's inside the tire valve stem for this to work, or it will block the vacuum. The vacuum pump is connected to the tire valve stem by the appropriate size tubing and adapters which you can also find in a car parts store if they aren't included with the kit. I also removed the rubber coating around the tire valve, which leaves the valve stem as a brass pipe with threads at one end that can be connected to a bicycle pump if you want to use that to pressurize the can. The valve that was removed from the tire valve stem should be reinstalled to limit blowback of liquid into the tire pump hose. I haven't taken time to find an ideal "off-the-shelf" kind of seal for this concept that would prevent the can from leaking at the joint between the can and the tire valve as the can is being re-pressurized. "O" rings might work well enough if you pay close attention to tolerances in the drill depth and select the right size and kind of "O" ring. I would like to know exactly what is used in the original manufacturing process for aerosol cans to better adapt this to DIY, but this is as far as a casual interest has taken me.

MadBricoleur (author)smokebox2009-07-17

Well, I thought etape was the easiest and the best option, so I did that. :D

patapon (author)2009-06-25

good luck!

MadBricoleur (author)patapon2009-07-19

thanks! it seems to me that you say that to every ible that's entered into the pocket-sized contest. :D

i voted for you so will you vote for me? i could also use a leatherman...

haha! advertising advertising...

done :D

THANK YOU!!!!!!!! :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

you're welcome... :D

rimar2000 (author)2009-06-21

Interesting work.

MadBricoleur (author)rimar20002009-07-20

Thanks. I know this is a bit late, but anyways... :D Are you going to vote for me?

pineapplenewton (author)2009-07-09

you could use it for dusting they make make arousal cans with just air for dusting right?

Yeah!!! I'll post that up too.

electro (author)2009-07-12

You dont need to try and "feed" the contents into the can through the top. You can get a simple tool that will unscrew the centre (the little steel plunger) of the tyre valve you fitted on the bottom. You then invert the can, pour in the contents, replace the valve core, pressurise and go !!

MadBricoleur (author)electro2009-07-17

oooohhhh.... That's an idea! Thanks! I'll post that up on the ible maybe tomorrow because today's kinda busy.

archer22 (author)2009-06-21

Don't put that in your carry-on...

About This Instructable




Bio: I am a budding Maker bogged down by school. I build because 1. because of my tight budget as a highschooler 2. I don't ... More »
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