Picture of Refillable Air Can
I would like to give full credit to Household hacker for this idea. Although mine is slightly different it's still the same concept. Anyway this project is super easy and I learned a lot about valves during the project. The project was all free for me as well so happy days.
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Step 1: What you need.

Picture of What you need.
You need everything in the photograph which includes;
  1. A Drill,An old valve + nut,
  2. A strong adhesive or putty (just make sure it can withstand the pressure...approx 80psi),
  3. An air can of course (you can either use an old can, buy one or ask for a spare one from a computer repair shop),
  4. Paint (purple).

Lets get started :)

Step 2: Step 1

Picture of Step 1
First make sure there is no air left in the can to avoid complications. Once you have that done drill a hole in the side or bottom of the can for the valve to be inserted. If you choose the bottom make sure it sticks out enough to be able to pump it up and also that it doesn't interfere with the stability of the can. Also think about where your putting the valve as seen below. Make sure when you go to spray the can the valve is not sticking into your hand. The valve I had was jutting out at the end so I cut that off with a hacksaw (See pictures). If you have a nut it will help A LOT . It will ensure the valve does not fall into the can. Increase surface area for when gluing it in and also will tell you how much of the valve you need sticking out so that your pump can grab onto it.

Step 3: Step 2

Picture of Step 2

Next secure the valve in place with a strong putty or glue. I used ''007 Adhesive and Sealant''. It needs to be strong enough to hold in the pressure about 80psi. Seal all gaps to ensure it is air tight. Once cured make sure it works by filling the can and give it a quick try. If everything works you now got yourself a refillable air can.


GarageGuru2 years ago
This is a great idea, but there are a few dangers to be aware of. Depending on what aresol can you use, the contents can be pressurized with propane. While you did say to make sure the canister is empty and unpressurized, drilling into a container, even if it is empty of any and all propellants, that once housed propane isn't something I would do. But that's just me.
YFX (author)  GarageGuru2 years ago
I agree! I only filled the can to 30psi so far so nothing goes wrong....I highly recommend you wear a face guard also and that you use an air can although a deodorant can should be ok unless the drill is spinning so fast to generate enough heat to ignite the remaining flammable particles inside (rare). But you are 100% correct.
ChrisR31 YFX10 days ago


I read this and I thought to myself, this sounds good. Then I read the comments and decided, there are lots of risks here. If I made this for myself, this would be OK because I am only exposing myself to these risks. If I wanted to use it at work, this is not appropriate. I found a rather nice tool available commercially which uses stainless steel which seems ok to me.


I thought about this and decided that you could probably bodge the valve from a metal can into a plastic soda can which would give you the benefits that the plastic is not as susceptible to rust as the metal can would be.

I'm somewhat averse to using as a handheld tool something which is effectively as described here a device which if it failed could remove parts of your hand. I'm trying to be nice in line with the comments policy... I like the idea of recycling but I think you really need to consider that not everyone will read all the useful and constructive comments which make a good case for not building this, but in the nicest possible way I think you really ought to re-write this with more safety warnings just so that you don't get sued by someone with no fingers. :-) Chris

Curt19729 months ago

This is a good article when it comes to a DIY project like this, but proper caveats should be followed as well. Everyone below has made good points about the potential dangers of this project, so to all future readers on this, make sure you understand the risks in doing so :)

Doc Penguin10 months ago


aldenb11 months ago

Ok, people, the risks are clear. Now, why can we not put on our thinking caps and come up with a way to refill a can of compressed air -even if it not be usable for electronics. I need a can for automotive use. At least YFX is thinking in the right direction. There must be good can candidates out there. There must be a way to wash out the can prior to setting the valve. There must be a way to reinforce the wall of the can where we drill it, e.g., wrap the can, bushing, or whatever. C'mon, paying $8 over the counter is a bummer. It is all fine and well to review and criticize. That is a necessary part of having the benefit of the internet's knowledge base. But such review should also bring ideas for solutions. The criticisms I read here come from obviously knowledgeable folk. The same folk should have some ideas to improve the hack.

USAcalc1 year ago
how do you refill the can?
rwallace011 year ago
How long will the can blow air?
YFX (author)  rwallace011 year ago
For about 30 seconds
Copy house hold hacker much ????
YFX (author)  stefanwebb492 years ago
I clearly stated if you read I give full credit to HouseholdHacker for the idea.
dchall82 years ago
It's hard to be all that nice about a project that is so dangerous. Most people deal with compressed gas every day and get away with it because the containers are specifically designed to hold that particular compressed gas. As soon as you drill a hole into a container and fill it with a gas it was not designed for, all safety designs are out the window. Garage Guru said it well - this is a pipe bomb. Compressed gas is one of the most hazardous products you can deal with.

As soon as you fill this can with compressed air, the moisture in the air condenses and the interior of the can begins to rust.  That rust is the fuse for this bomb.  It burns slowly but when it goes, it goes all at once.  Also you don't want to be spraying soggy wet air onto electronic parts.  Everything will be wet instead of clean. 
YFX (author)  dchall82 years ago
This would take at least a year to become weak enough to become dangerous if so at all as the can is made of a non-ferrous metal so it would not oxidize quickly. Aluminium.
dchall8 YFX2 years ago
Aluminum is out of the question for pressurized cans. It has two modes: soft and brittle. Too soft and it will expand from the pressure. Too brittle and it cracks and lets the contents out. Even if you hit the happy medium, aluminum only gets more brittle with every vibration. But even if it takes longer than a year, I don't like it. I have a potato gun I made in the 90s. Plastic goes bad over time, so I won't use it.

We don't need to go over the engineering design issues.  I'm just saying this isn't as simple or valuable as it looks.  At worst it is dangerous.  At best it will spit water all over your electronics from the compressed moisture provided by the compressor. 
YFX (author)  dchall82 years ago
I'm not an expert at this stuff but once there is no holes for humid/moist air to enter it shouldn't corrode so make sure the glue is sealed correctly. Although we are pumping air into it and air only from an air compressor it shouldn't cause any problems as the ca is designed to hold air in the first place.
dchall8 YFX2 years ago
The moisture is compressed in the compressor...unless you spent a huge amount of money for a dryer on the intake of the compressor.

Air dusters do not contain air to begin with.  They contain a chemical and the can is designed to hold that chemical.  Here is a description from Wikipedia:

Gas duster, also known as canned air or compressed air, is a product used for cleaning electronic equipment and other sensitive devices that cannot be cleaned using water. Despite the name "canned air," the cans actually contain gases that are much easier to compress into liquids, such as difluoroethane, trifluoroethane, or tetrafluoroethane. Hydrocarbons, like butane, were often used in the past, but their flammable nature forced manufacturers to use fluorocarbons.
GarageGuru2 years ago
The second problem is attaching the valve stem into a very thin material that has already been weakened by drilling a hole into it then repressurizing the canister. Since the valve stem is attached to the can with just an adhesive and isn't threaded, the canister is too thin for tapping threads, into the canister, when pressurized, have essentially created either a potential pipe bomb, or a cannon. It just depends whether the hole in the canister tears open, or the valve stem flys out under pressure. I'd hate to see someone get hurt or worse.
YFX (author)  GarageGuru2 years ago
This shouldn't be an issue unless it is filled with excessive and unnecessary pressure and if you want to be extra secure you can get putty's that can withstand over 500psi.
Can approx. 80psi.
GarageGuru2 years ago
This is a great idea, but there are a few dangers to be aware of. Depending on what aresol can you use, the contents can be pressurized with propane. While you did say to make sure the canister is empty and unpressurized, drilling into a container, even if it is empty of any and all propellants, that once housed propane isn't something I would do. But that's just me.