Introduction: Survival Whistle From a Soup Can

Picture of Survival Whistle From a Soup Can

Survival Whistle from a Soup Can

I want to show you an awesome survival hack by turning a soup can in to an emergency whistle.

Watch the Video:

Let’s imagine you are hiking or camping and you become lost.

That can be a scary situation.

Here is a great way to signal for help.

What you Need:

- Metal can (soup can)

- Large nail (small screwdriver or rounded tool)

- Medium sized rock (for hammering)

- Flat hard surface (rock or concrete)


If you would like the video version of this Instructable and the embedded video does not appear, here is an alternative link.

Use of content for personal projects is at your own risk.

This project was inspired by "cammers" and his instructable can be found at:


Step 1: Removing the Lid

Picture of Removing the Lid

Removing the Lid

Start looking around for a thin piece of metal.

In this case, a tin can or soup can would be perfect.

The first thing we need to do is remove one end of the can.

A can opener would be best, but if you do not have one, then a large flat rock or some concrete to remove the lid.

Most cans have rolled edge to seal them.

So place it face down and drag it back and forth to grind off the edge.

This may take a couple of minutes but it will work.

*Caution* - The edges will be sharp.

Step 2: Shaping the Lid

Picture of Shaping the Lid

Shaping the Lid

Now carefully fold the lid in half.

We now need to puncture a small round hole through both sides of the lid.

You can use a large nail, a small screwdriver, or maybe even something on your Swiss Army knife.

Next find a large rock to assist you.

Now place the nail about 1 centimeter inward from the folded edge and hammer a hole through both sides of the lid.

After removing the nail, one side will have a sharp jagged edge where you made the hole.

Carefully bend down these edges if you can, so you won’t cut your mouth.

Now pry open the lid to about a 30 degree angle. This will help create the sound.

Step 3: How to Use It

Picture of How to Use It

How to use it

To use the whistle, carefully place your tongue on the folded edge with the jagged hole side facing upward.

Make a tight seal with your lips completely surrounding both holes because all of the air must flow through them.

This design is very similar to a sheep dog whistle and may take a little practice to get the loudest sound possible.

But I can tell you from experience that you can and will annoy your family with it.

So there is a great way to turn a soup can into a survival whistle.

**And if you happen to find a can with a peeling lid, the tab makes a great handle.**


Penolopy Bulnick (author)2017-02-06

That is pretty crazy. I want to make it so I can see it in action myself!

darrenah (author)2017-01-25

Thanks. You never know when you might need an emergency whistle.

avrpic (author)2017-01-25

Whistle with fingers is much louder. But your lid whistle is good for fun.

Amnesia Wes (author)2017-01-24

Poke 2 holes in the center of the lid, 2 cm apart. Fold the lid in half, between the holes with the jagged edges facing inward. This way you won't have to chance to cut your lip on it. Done.

JohnC430 (author)2017-01-20

thanks for sharing. great idea!! we old folks have forgotten what we knew when we were kids. made whistles with leaves and tin can tops too. thanks for reminding me of my younger days. everything was fun.

calaman (author)2017-01-15

Hold my tongue against the folded edge wen i blow? Im workin on it but i remember having better immediate results from the gum leaf. I havnt given up im just workin on it.... I can hear the potential!

SpecificLove (author)calaman2017-01-15

It can sometimes take a little practice to find the right spot for your tongue. Try to prevent any air from going around your tongue (on the sides).

villager (author)2017-01-15

When I was a kid, my father taught me this nifty little trick using a bottle cap, l recall making a few myself and mastering it's use, but like everything else; I eventually forgot about it. Then a few years back, me being the father and my father no longer being with us. I remembered the trick but not how to make them. Specifically, where to puncture. I felt horrible for not being able to retain the info and pass along to my kids; until now. I immediately clicked on your ible, began reading and voilà. You completed the circle for me. Thank you so much. I can't wait to try my hand and show my kids how to.

SpecificLove (author)villager2017-01-15

Thank you for sharing. I love to hear how people learn and remember. This means a lot.

calaman (author)2017-01-13

I remember as a child spending all summer learning2whistle though i could neva master whistling with my fingers. Perhaps because once i learnt2whistle without my father was always telling me to shut up as he claimed it was too shrill. We also just used2use gum (eucalyptus) leaves folded in half with a small split then blow...

leoned (author)2017-01-13

In any survival situation you do what you have to and if you are hammering a nail through the tin can lid catch yourself as you go through one side of lid than flip it over and proceed to hammer on other side where you feel the dimple and jagged edges will be on the inside of the lid,excellent item to make and good showing of being lost

YvonneW (author)2017-01-13

To dangerous for kids. Te gevaarlijk voor kinderen!

agdobias (author)YvonneW2017-01-13

Maybe for today's kids. We used to make a whistle when we were screwing around in the rail yards out of the strapping material (It looked like linked razor blades). I remember that it would be an incredibly shrill whistle...But in retrospect, I suppose that kids shouldn't have been playing in a train yard...

Great Instructable though!

caruncles (author)YvonneW2017-01-13

depends on at what age you consider a "kid" and what you've taught them. I was carrying a pocket knife when I was 7 years old. I was taught how and when to use it.

starveddog (author)YvonneW2017-01-13

In a survival situation, the danger of cutting themselves might not outweigh the desire to be found.

caruncles (author)2017-01-13

If you can't make the whistle, beat on the can like a drum. Use the shiny parts for a reflector (if the sun is shining).

bblip (author)2017-01-12

I use acorn caps as whistles.

caruncles (author)bblip2017-01-13

Yep, white oaks are a good size. Hickory nuts work too.

leonardipc (author)2017-01-12

As a boy I would make that whistle with a beer bottle cap. The whistle is much stronger than this. And there's more, you can take it with you in your pants pocket.
Sorry for the translator

caruncles (author)leonardipc2017-01-13

the bottle cap needs no modifications. Hold the the thumbs together. Place them over the cap leaving a little V above the knuckles. Put your lips on the knuckles and blow. You can master it in less than 5 minutes. As said, keeping a bottle cap in your pocket is about as easy as it gets. This also works with half a hickory nut shell. This whistle is very loud.

All that being said, I'm going to try the can thing just to say I did.

outandabout (author)2017-01-13

Excelkent, clear Instructable! Great video, great job by the young man as your subject!

MJO50 (author)2017-01-12

I appreciate the "be nice" policy but maybe just learn to whistle !! it only requires two fingers and a little practice to get your skill up to annoyingly loud :-)

JenniferH45 (author)MJO502017-01-13

I've tried and tried, but honestly, I can't whistle to save my life.

DozyC (author)MJO502017-01-12

I have no idea how people whistle using their fingers. It would be great if someone would do a video of such!

MJO50 (author)DozyC2017-01-12

I would post that video myself but as you can tell from my lack of picture I'm not very photogenic :-(

cammers (author)MJO502017-01-12

Using your fingers to whistle is very effective, but unpleasant if you have dirty hands.

Kevanf1 (author)MJO502017-01-12

Some of us have been trying and trying to whistle with the fingers in the mouth technique for a long time. In my case 50 years. I've had plenty of people who have shown me how to do it. Sadly I simply can't :( So this is a very good Instructable for those of who are unable to whistle very loudly. I can whistle a tune just not loud. I do actually carry a policeman's style whistle with me most of the time as I am disabled and fall a great deal but this is a great back up plan, thank you.

geezergdad (author)MJO502017-01-12

My dad taught me to whistle when i was about 8.Practice makes perfect.I'm 58 now.

medvebocs (author)2017-01-12

LO, lost? good luck finding a can and remembering this video,.

cammers (author)2017-01-12

Nice work. And thanks for referencing my old instructable.

Archer973 (author)2017-01-12

I like this idea and, like Cliffystones, it reminded me of the whistles we used to make with pallet straps. My brothers also taught me how to use a blade of grass pinched between your thumbs to act as a reed for a whistle.

Cliffystones (author)2017-01-12

As a kid my friends and i would use metal pallet straps we would find by the local railroad tracks. Thanks for reminding me of the memory. And great idea!

Archer973 (author)Cliffystones2017-01-12

Cliffystones. My brothers and I did that too. I had forgotten till I saw this instructable.

chefspenser (author)2017-01-12

Very clear and concise instructable. The photographs are particularly well done, sharp and well lighted, especially the close ups. Great job!

SpecificLove (author)chefspenser2017-01-12

Thank you

Taz-Hood (author)2017-01-12

Brilliant! When you're lost in the woods, it is common enough to come across other campers' discarded cans (shame on them), and this would really help! When I was 18, I went into the Sierras by myself and opened cans with my pocket knife (today I would use a lightweight military-type opener instead). This was before freeze-dried food was readily available. Aside: I wonder if holes made with the point of a knife would work by turning the knife like a drill? Do the holes need to be round to work? Back on topic: Usually, finding an old nail is likewise not that difficult, as people tend to pound them in to trees (again, shame on them), but getting one out of a tree might be tough. I too cannot whistle using my fingers, so this could be a life-saver. Of course today I wouldn't think of hiking cross-country in the woods without carrying at least minimal survival items in my vest, especially a couple of trash-compactor or large garbage bags which can make an excellent vapor-barrier shirt for warmth and/or a good raincoat if caught in a storm. Remember that the majority of people who die each year from "exposure" (hypothermia) do so by getting wet in 50 degree fahrenheit weather, not in snow or ice storms. Knowing how to stay dry and warm is essential. Knowing how to create an emergency whistle like this can greatly increase your chances of being found by rescue personnel or other hikers. Thank you for creating this wonderful Instructable. Everyone who enjoys hiking should learn how to do this in case they forget or lose or break their emergency whistle.

SpecificLove (author)Taz-Hood2017-01-12

Thank you for the support. I am pretty sure the holes work best being round.

naomiandtom (author)2017-01-12

Perhaps one could punch the two holes separately, so that both jagged
edges would be safely on the inside of the folded lid. You'd have to do
it before you fold it in half, I guess.

SpecificLove (author)naomiandtom2017-01-12

Maybe, but I did find it easier to use with the jagged side facing upward rather than downward. I think, it has something to do with the angle of the hole with the shape. But if you practice with it, you should be able to find the sweet spot.

robertmeadows (author)2017-01-12

^8 years ago Cracker-Jacks had one of these whistles in its boxes as a "prize". ...Have tried to make another since then but failed. Your instructions showed me how to make one that works,

Glad to help

broomfieldlk (author)2017-01-12

I made one of these many years ago (35yrs) and had great fun with it. I am so glad to be reminded. Something I will do on my next Grands trip with the kids!

Awesome, they will love it

wronknee (author)2017-01-12

I got a similar device from a Cracker Jack box when I was a child. That was about 60 years ago. After some practice I learned to whistle without using the device. That came in handy when cleaning out the chicken house.

mworrall (author)2017-01-12

Since I fell and knocked out my front teeth I can no longer whistle.

Georgiemcluvvin (author)2017-01-07

You can do the same with a bus ticket. Oh how I was annoying on the ride home hahaha

FunE2 (author)2017-01-06

Obviously, in a survival situation you won't have a drill, but you might try drilling a hole which would leave no sharp edges sticking out. Unless those somehow are needed for the sound. Great idea.

Anirudh Ralhan (author)2017-01-06

This is really good :)


gm280 (author)2017-01-06

Nice project. And I am glad you pointed out how sharp it can be. But in an emergency, you have to do what you have to do. Thumbs Up!

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