Refillable Air Can





Introduction: Refillable Air Can

About: Currently and engineering student with a design flare.

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.

Step 1: 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

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

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.


Step 4: Step 4

To finish the can basically do whatever you want with it. Bring out the artist in yourself. You can decorate it , paint it or customize it. I was think of using card but decided to use the last of my purple acrylic paint. Wasn't happy with the finish but I think it was because my brush was too hard but hey...what the heck it still works and is a pleasure to have handy.
Hope you enjoyed!



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    We have a be nice policy.
    Please be positive and constructive.




    Too late. They're already doing that over in China due to the HORRIBLE air quality over there. lol

    I hear a lot of complaints about the dangers of messing with an aresol can.

    If you use some common sense and precautions you won't have any trouble. This simple modification has been done ever since aresol cans came on the market.

    The first thing is being sure its empty. If you have a vise to hold the can in use it. Before you start drilling a hole depressurize the can at the nozzle and take a long screw driver or small diameter steel rod put a point on the rod and tap it lightly until you have made a small puncture in the can. Any residual air will be let out and you are set for the next step.

    If using a valve stem from and old bicycle tube, be sure to also cut a one and a half inch diameter circle of rubber from the tube as-well as stem. strip the rubber coating off the valve, you will be left with a threaded brass or stainless steel valve stem.

    Make the hole in the can the appropriate size so the threads will catch as you screw the valve into the can. Once you have a few threads started, use a two part epoxy and coat the valve stem with it, continue to turn the valve stem into the can leaving about 1/2 an inch exposed, smooth the epoxy out around the base of the valve onto the can. Take the one and half inch diameter circle of rubber you cut from the tube put a hole in the center of it so it will fit snugly over the valve stem, coat both the surface, the can and the surface of the rubber and press the two together. Let that setup.

    For added safety pickup some JB weld, and go over the area around the valve. This bond will not fail in all my experience, which in a lot. To make this refillable aresol can even more useful, pick up some 3/8 inch brass plumbing fittings. On the opposite side of the can do the same thing but thread a 3/8 inch brass outside threaded coupler into the can using the epoxy and JB weld. You can then use a 3/8 thread on plumbing cap on that filling coupler you just added to the can.

    You can use the can for paint, solvent or whatever you choose to spray out under pressure.. A refillable aresol can has a ton of practical uses. Check with manufacturer of the can what PSI it was designed to hold, and do not exceed that pressure.

    They are under rated for safety reasons so you will be fine.

    I have made numerous refillable compressed air cans for a multitude of reasons. I build Hotrods and Bobber motorcycles, I use a lot of aresol cans with a number of products. This simple and effective compressed air can will be an extremely handy thing to have around. Great for touching up small specialty paint colours without having to set up a detailing spray gun,,, just add some paint to your preferred can and fix the area needing attention. Enjoy and be safe, use common sense, and don't cut corners when building something that many people have had success with by following their guide to build it, make it, create it, for another re-usable, recyclable aresol can tool.

    An added note::: If you use a new tubeless tire valve, you will eliminate any chance of failure at the area around the valve into the can. Its the way I do it, but I see many people using the bicycle or other tire tube valve so I explained that method in this tutorial.

    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.

    3 replies

    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.

    Is there a way to fill the can from same valve at top from which the air come out.


    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

    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 :)

    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.

    how do you refill the can?


    For about 30 seconds


    Like this, but I wish they had pictures ....


    I clearly stated if you read I give full credit to HouseholdHacker for the idea.

    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. 

    3 replies

    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.

    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. 


    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.