Learn how to make durable Chinese lanterns from soda cans! Paint them any color and fill with LED tea lights. Great upcycle decor for all occasions and unlike paper lanterns they last a long time. You can also hang them as is without lighting for a daytime event. We used LED tea lights with timers for these. Just like the ones used for our Upcycled Ceiling Fan.
Chinese Lantern Supplies
NOTE ABOUT SHARP EDGES: Most soda cans are now made with very thin, soft aluminum. It would be difficult to get cut on them.
- Soda cans (with tab still attached )
- Spray paint (We used Krylon Rich Plumb Gloss and Krylon Sun Yellow)
- Utility knife
- Raffia etc. for hanging
- Tea Lights, Battery Operated (this is the exact set I purchased which works on a timer 6 hours on 18 off) *
Note on these specific tea lights: I’ve not had mine long enough to determine the usage on these specific lights but from what I read it will be about two to three months if they are kept on the timer 24/7. The way the timer works is you turn them on at the time you want them to stay lit for 6 hours. They will then auto shut off for 18 hours and come on again the next day.
Video How To
You can measure around the can and make tiny marks where you will cut. You can also just eyeball it and cut, which is what I did. Make sure to keep the tab on!
Fill the can with water to about 1/2″ from the top and freeze. If you fill it too full it can split the can.
Frozen water in can.
Make cuts with a knife about 1/2″ apart and about 1″ or so from the top and bottom.
Set the can in the sink to let the ice melt.
Once the ice is melted paint the can. Handle the tab very carefully as you want it to stay firmly affixed to the can for hanging.
Carefully push down, making sure the cuts go outward.
Add battery operate tea lights if desired.
Carefully place them in the lantern.