Is It Safe To Heat Canned Food In The Can?

Last Updated: March 30, 2022

Canned food is an obvious choice of survival sustenance. It has a long shelf-life and can be eaten cold if necessary.

Heated up, however, it will also help to raise your core temperature and boost your mood. The only problem is how to heat it if you don’t have the necessary cookware to hand.

Having already established the potential dangers of eating canned food that’s been frozen, I wondered if heating food in the can would have similarly hazardous consequences.

The Potential Dangers of Heating Canned Food in the Can

Although we often refer to them as tin cans, very few contain any tin at all. Most canned food comes in a steel container, while beverage cans are primarily aluminum.

Heating canned food in a sealed tin is potentially dangerous. As the food heats up, so it expands. There’s no space for this to happen in a sealed can, so the can could burst or explode, sending hot foods and liquids, along with sharp metal fragments, flying in all directions.

Another potential hazard of heating canned food in the can is the chemical compounds used to manufacture those cans.

Stainless steel contains chromium and nickel, both of which can filter into the food inside. While our bodies contain small traces of chromium, studies have shown that “oral doses of nickel and chromium can cause cutaneous adverse reactions such as dermatitis.”

Steel cans only contain very small amounts of these metal compounds so, shouldn’t cause any health problems. The lining of a steel can poses a much greater risk.

Many cans are lined with a substance that contains bisphenol A, better known as BPA. This industrial chemical has been used in the manufacturing of plastics and resins since the 1950s. It’s used in canned foods to protect the contents, preventing them from coming into direct contact with the metal container.

Although the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) maintains that “BPA is safe at the current levels occurring in foods,” studies suggest otherwise. BPA can affect the way our sex hormones, estrogen and testosterone, behave. This disrupts our brains and hormonal systems. BPA has also been linked to insulin resistance and obesity in women.

High levels of exposure to BPA are also believed to increase the risk of breast cancer and some metabolic disorders.

When heated, the chances of BPA leaching into the canned food increases dramatically, making it even more dangerous.

One way to avoid this is to buy your canned food from companies that use only BPA-free cans.

The Safest Way To Heat Canned Food Without A Pot

Depending on the can type, if you open it before heating, the food inside should remain nutritious and safe to eat.

The safest way to heat food in the can is by following these steps:

  • Remove all paper labels and as much of the glue that held them in place as possible
  • Open the can using a can opener or any one of these seven methods
  • Puncture a couple of holes near the top of the can to allow the pressure inside to escape
  • Hold or place the can about four inches above the fire
  • Allow to heat for a couple of minutes.

This process is only safe if using a BPA-free can.

Once you’ve enjoyed your hot meal, discard the can. You should only heat a tin can once as the fire can damage it and increase the possibility of metal compounds leaching into the contents.

Is It Safe To Heat Canned Food In The Can?

While it is possible to heat canned food in the can safely, it is potentially dangerous and may have adverse health complications. It’s much safer to either eat the contents cold or heat them in a cooking pot.


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  1. Arrange 4 prayer candles in square..east south north west…put chicken noodle(or water) in a small pan….place pan over lit candle(I used a 3″ candle from walmart)in center of prayer candles….
    note: place inside box or other to prevent candle wax or other spills
    Time to heat soup?? 25 minutes for edible..more for really hot soup.
    More candles/more flame/faster heat but need bigger pan..

  2. Around 1995 I opened a military can of beans (who knows how old), cooked the beans in the can over a hexamine stove, I can still taste it.
    I have many times wondered if that was to blame?

  3. Thanks for the info. So many things are BPA free, it seems in recent years. So many newer prepper’s should be safer than older cans stored for more than the last couple yrs.
    I do have a good stockpile of canned food I started puting away in 2022.
    We plan being off grid this yr, so I have over $1,000 in canned and boxed foods. I even bought some ammo cans that are knee high incase I might need them. I do have a bunch of ammo too, but 1 can of ammo would need a handtruck to move.



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