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Why you should bring a can of tuna on your next camping trip

tuna-can torch

What’s the most useful item you can bring with you camping? Some would say a utility knife. Others, a flashlight. But we’re going to make the case for a simple can of tuna.

A can of tuna is surprisingly useful. It’s more nutritious than most camping meals, and it has a few tricks hidden up its sleeve. So if you’re packing for your next outdoorsy trip and trying to decide between shampoo and a can of tuna… let your hair get dirty.

1. Make a fish hook

If your can of tuna has a pull-tab, then you can use it to get even more food! You’ll need some wire cutters to pull it off, but once you have them, it’s pretty easy to turn your can tab into a functional fish hook. Cut away a small section of the tab and pull it out to more easily hook your prey. Full instructions are available at Instructables.

2. Make a miniature torch

Are you out in the woods without a flashlight, but you remembered to bring canned goods? You may need to learn to prioritize your packing list, but the good news is, you won’t be lost in the dark. If you have some paper towel or string and a can of tuna, you have everything you need to make a torch. First, puncture a hole in the lid of the tuna can (use a utility knife or scissors if you have them, get creative with a rock if you don’t), then twist a piece of paper towel into a wick and put it in the hole, coating it in oil. That’s all there is to it—light the wick, and you have a torch that will burn for two to three hours. If you’re stuck in the cold, this trick might just save you. And you can eat the tuna afterward too!

3. Open it sans can opener

So you’re out in the bush with a can of tuna but no can opener. Before you despair, take a look around you. Is there a large rock? Then you have all you need to get your can open. For the best results, find a large, flat rock. Then turn the can upside down and rub it back and forth across the rock’s surface. After thirty seconds or so, the can’s seal should be worn away. Then you simply press the sides of the can to pop the top off. Here’s a video that gives a demonstration.

4. Have a miniature barbecue

Canned tuna may not be the most exciting meal around, but with just a couple of pieces of paper towel, you can transform it into a warm, smoky meal you can eat right out of the can.

Here’s how you do it: first, make sure you buy tuna canned in oil—water just won’t cut it, because you’re going to need that oil for fuel. Take a few pieces of paper towel (or toilet paper if you’re living minimally) and place them over the mouth of the can until they’re soaked in oil. Next, grab a lighter or some matches and light the paper towel, letting it burn itself out. Remove any remaining paper, and you should be left with some smoky, lightly browned tuna.

Need further instruction? Check out this video.