Introduction: Hand Lantern From Soda Cans

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How to make a hand lantern from soda cans? ... that's explained in this Instructable.

A lantern is a portable source of lighting, typically featuring a protective enclosure for the light source — historically usually a candle — to make it easier to carry and hang up, and make it more reliable outdoors (Wikipedia).

To make this lantern completely suitable for outdoor use, the housing was made of soda cans. The advantage of aluminum is that it can withstand the hot temperature generated by the candle and does not ignite. In addition, the dome made of soda cans protects the candle from heavy rain. The glass prevent a burning candle being extinguished from wind. The protective cover must also be removable so that you can replace the candle when it has burned down. The side handle allows you to carry or hang the lantern around. The lantern is therefore also excellent as eternal light for a grave. So let start with this "fusion" project using glass and soda cans.

Step 1: Parts List

For this project you need the following parts:

  • Soda can (66mm diameter, 500ml)
  • Soda can (58mm diameter, 330ml)
  • Glass (56mm diameter)
  • Screw (15 mm), normal nut and a cap nut
  • Concrete
  • Sand
  • Adhesive tape
  • Piece of wire to make the handle
  • Eyelets
  • Candle


  • Glass bottle cutter (Link to glass cutter on aliexpress)
  • Stapler
  • Scissors
  • Utility Knife
  • Pliers
  • Electric Drill
  • Edding marker
  • Eyelet pliers
  • Ruler
  • Screw driver
  • Old credit card
  • Piece of scrap wood

This project is based on the following Instructables:

Step 2: Lantern Main Structure

The outside surface of the soda can is much more attractive if you remove the color first. So before you start, remove the ink form the soda can. I already posted an Instructable that demonstrates an easy method for ink removal from soda cans. You can find the Instructable here: How to remove the ink from soda cans

The next step is to separate top and bottom of the soda can. Clean the emptied soda can by rinsing twice with water and then let it dry. Use a knife to mark a groove around the can. Hold the knife on a piece of wood at a level plane and then rotate the can around. It is not necessary to cut through the aluminum. Apply some pressure with an old credit card near the groove to separate the top and the bottom part (see video).

Then the soda can is formed into a square. You will find an Instructable how to do this under the following link: Make square shaped soda cans.

If you use a soda can with a diameter of 66 mm the square soda can will have a side length of about 5 cm. Now we close the lower part of the square shaped soda can by making a 3 cm long cut on all four edges. The resulting flaps are then folded inwards to form the bottom.

Now draw a kind of window with the Edding marker on all four sides (2 cm from the bottom, 1 cm from the edges with a length of about 5 cm). Cut along the side lines and the top with an utility knife. The line near the bottom is left untreated (see picture).

Step 3: Cutting of the Glass

So that our candle is not blown out with the first gust of wind we need a transparent protection. Glass is the material of choice. The glass has to fit as exactly as possible into the small soda can. The glass of a spaghetti sauce from Barilla was the best I could find.

To extract the piece of glass I used a glass bottle cutter that I bought online (see parts list). However it is not so difficult to make a cutter one your own. There are already a ton of Instructables and YouTube videos how to cut glass so I will not go into detail. Only this much: Protect yourself with gloves and scratch the glass only once. Then alternately pour boiling hot and cold water over the cuts until the glass breaks. The glass cylinder I extracted is about 55 mm in height.

Step 4: The Dome

Just like with the big soda can, removed the paint from the smaller one too. Then the soda can is cut into two half's. Place the half with the drinking opening on a flat surface. Then place the glass cylinder on its side. Place an Edding marker on the glass and draw a line on the soda can. This will make the soda can slightly larger than the glass. Then reduce the soda can to the desired size by cutting along the drawn line with scissors.

The other half of the soda can is use to extract the bottom which will form the dome. With a sharp utility knife make a strong grove into the bottom part. Then release the dome with pliers. Make a hole in the center of the soda can with the drinking opening. The second hole is made into the center of the dome. Fix the screw with a normal nut in the center of the soda can. Then screw the dome onto the screw and turn until the dome touches the soda can. Use a cap nut to finish the screw. The cap nut looks great.

In this configuration the candle would not get enough oxygen to burn constantly. Therefore we have to drill holes into the side walls of the soda can. Place the soda can into the lantern main structure and then indicate with a Edding marker the for edges. Take the soda can out again and drill holes where you marked the edges.

Step 5: Pour Concrete Into Lantern Main Structure

In order to get a low center of gravity we pour concrete into the bottom of the lantern main structure. I mix my concrete usually in the following way:

  • 1 part concrete
  • 3 parts sand
  • 1 part water

First I mix only the sand and the concrete and thereafter I add the water.

The bottom of the lantern main structure is sealed with tape so no concrete will leak out of the lantern. You should be careful when pouring the concrete into the lantern. The concrete mixture has a very low pH-value. Solutions with a low pH-value attack the aluminium and leave burns on the aluminium which do not look nice.

Pour the concrete about 2 cm high into the lantern main structure. The concrete should now be the same height as the lower end of the window. Let the concrete dry completely.

As the concrete is dry bend the aluminum of each window over the concrete. Fix the aluminum window onto each other with a stapler.

Step 6: Put It All Together

Place the glass into the dome. Press the lantern main structure slightly apart and then insert the dome. Slide the dome down until it reaches the upper end of the window. Lower the glass until it reaches the bottom.

Step 7: Attach Handle

To hang up the lantern we need a carrying handle. Use scissors to cut two small slits in opposite edges of the lantern main structure about 15 mm from to top. Then enlarge the slits to holes of the size of your eyelets with an electric drill. Then insert the eyelets and fix them with eyelet pliers.

Form a carrying handle from wire. Insert the wire into the eyelets on both size. Finally bend the wire inside the lantern main structure upwards so that the carrying handle cannot fall out. Put everything back together and light the candle.

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