The Lazy Lady’s Guide to DIY: Soda Can Votive Candle

This week’s project began with utter failure.

I had originally planned to use a can of the canned-vegetables variety for this DIY, but after hammering away at the same spot for ten minutes and only having two holes and a banged thumb to show for it, I decided to throw it across the room and sulk instead. As I was sulking and drinking a certain zero calorie dark cola I’m addicted to, it occurred to me this project would be much easier with a soda can. Being the lazy lady I am, I couldn’t resist.

Soda Can Votive

What you’ll need: A soda can, hammer, sharp kitchen knife, nails of various sizes (or thumbtacks), spray paint, and a tea light.


Can Before


Only kind of dangerous
This looks only a little dangerous.


The first thing you’ll need to do is remove the top of the can. Take a sharp (or at least very pointy) kitchen knife and place the tip in the groove around the inner lip of the can. Gently tap the knife in with the hammer. Repeat around the edges until you can pull the top off. Watch out for sharp edges! If the inside lip of your can is too rough, run the handle of your knife around the inside to flatten the edges.


Can open
Topless! Avert your eyes!


After removing the top, I covered my can with two coats of white spray paint I already had on hand. Another fun option would be outdoor black “textured” paint for patio furniture, which would make it look like a cast iron lantern. I painted mine before poking holes in it, but if I could do it over I would have saved painting for the final step. I underestimated my clumsiness/lack of aim and ended up scratching the paint so much I had to give it another coat when I was finished.


Can painted
Yes, there is another Coke Zero can back there. Stop judging me.


To make patterns on your can, push the nails into the side of the can with your fingers. You can either mark out your pattern with a pencil beforehand or just make it up as you go along. Using nails of varying thicknesses will give you more options and will make the pattern more interesting. Try to keep your holes about a quarter inch apart to keep the can from tearing.

When you’re done poking, light your tea light and drop it in.


Can After

Your votive candle is finished! These would be great for an outdoor dinner party. You could also punch two holes on either side of the top and hang them with wire to create lovely hanging lanterns for your backyard. Enjoy!

Have an project you’d like to see me attempt? Drop me an email at alliepersephone(at)gmail(dot)com or tell me in the comments!

By Bobella

I'm a twenty-something freelance writer and designer who lives in Memphis, TN with my husband, cat, and chinchilla. I require coffee and the internet to live.

6 replies on “The Lazy Lady’s Guide to DIY: Soda Can Votive Candle”

I have found that the easiest way to make the holes in cans is by filling it with water and freezing it and then it is much easier to punch nails into soda as well as soup, etc. tins. Hope this helps.
Also, I would put some sand into the bottom of the soda tin as the tins are so flimsy these days; that way your candle won’t blow a way.

The best way I’ve found is to run something rounded and metal (I used the handle of my knife) around the inside lip to fold the sharp edges down and in. If you have sandpaper handy that also works, but I’d recommend doing it outside so you don’t end up with little aluminum flecks everywhere.

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