Dip Can Survival Kit: Why, How To, 8 Items to Include

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By Bryan Lynch •  8 min read

I am not one to let a good container go to waste and surprisingly a dip can be used to create a very small, pocket survival kit

A dip can is water-resistant, provides a semi-hard container for protecting the contents, is lightweight and extremely compact. 

An all-purpose kit can be made but given its small size, I have found that a dip can is better used for creating a specialized kit. This type of kit will have a few critically important items that help in accomplishing a certain task. 

The size of a dip can lends itself well to being used as either a fire-making kit or a fishing kit, which are two of my favorite types of small kits to create.  

Getting Started 

Once the can is empty, the first thing you will want to do is thoroughly wash it out with dish soap and water, then allow it to dry. 

You do not want to put items into the can without rinsing it out. The residue left behind from the tobacco could have an adverse effect on the items being stored within.

Building a Dip Can Fire Making Kit

The two main items to put into this kit will be a tool to use as an ignition source and fire tinder. I will break down those two categories and offer several options for items that will fit into a dip can.  

Ignition Source

Mini Bic Lighter

For the ignition source, there are several great tools that are small enough to fit inside this container.

The first, is a mini Bic lighter which not only fits but offers and instant flame with minimum effort involved. I have found that the lighter fits better if it is placed in the middle of the container first with the fire tinder packed around it.   

The next option is wood matches. I prefer stormproof matches over regular wood matches, but they are bulky. 

To get around this I simply cut away a small portion of the wood handle. I was able to easily fit 7 stormproof matches in the can though I estimate double that amount could fit while still allowing room for tinder.  

When using matches, I like to adhere several striker strips to the underside of the lid. This will help to keep the striker surface dry as well as provide a hard surface for striking the match head. The striker strips can either be glued or simply taped to the underside of the lid. 

The third option is to pack a miniature ferrocerium rod and striker. If you tend to always carry a pocketknife then a metal striker may not be necessary. But a striker can be customized size by using and old hacksaw blade. 

The last option would be to use a miniature magnifying glass. I am a huge fan of packing this tool, but the main downfall is that it can only be used during the day with clear sunny skies. 

Unfortunately, I lost my small magnifying glass so I will offer an alternative. In the picture is wallet sized fresnal lens that I trimmed with a pair of scissors to fit in the container. These flexible magnifying lens can usually be found cheaply at stores that sell pharmaceutical supplies.


There are four tinder options that work well in this kit that are among my favorite and extremely affordable. In fact, most people already have some of these in their homes. 

If budget is a concern, you cannot get much cheaper than collecting dryer lint for tinder. This is a free source of tinder that takes a spark exceptionally well and burns like a rag soaked in gasoline. 

Cotton balls will be the next cheapest option and several of them can be packed tightly into this container. Like dryer lint, cotton balls will take a spark very well. Rolling a cotton ball in petroleum jelly will give it a longer burn time but be sure to wrap it in something to prevent the jelly from getting on everything.

I like having Jute Twine in my kits because it can be used as cordage as well as tinder. Several feet of this twine can be coiled into a dip can and when needed it is easily fluffed up into a tinder ball that catches a spark well. 

My number one go-to fire tinder is fatwood because it is water-resistant and has a great burn time. Fatwood is wood that has a high content of flammable resin and when exposed to a spark or flame it burns very well. 

Fatwood can be packed as whole pieces or as shavings. Whole pieces will require a flame while shavings can take a spark from a ferrocerium rod. 

Fire Kit Items at a Glance 

Building a Dip Can Fishing Kit

Fishing kits can be composed of many items that include collapsible poles, fishing line, hooks, lures, bobbers, sinkers, swivels, and an assortment of other tackle.

But a fishing kit can be broken down into two basic components: the fishing line and hooks. Everything else only helps in the fishing experience but is not required.

Lures, bait, and other accessories can be assembled in the field and thus should not take up space in such a small kit.

When making a fishing kit it would be my recommendation to pack an abundance of fishing line and hooks because these two items are all that is really required. 

I know that fishing line and hooks can be fashioned in the field but given their importance why waste the time? 

I have caught many fish with only a fishing line and a hook with no bait on it. This convinced me that all other tackle merely provided additional fishing options but were not a necessity. 

For this reason, it is best to utilize the space in compact fishing kits to pack as much fishing line and hooks as possible. 

A braided fishing line works well for this type of kit because it will not become a tangled mess like a monofilament line. 

Pictured is one hundred feet of 40lb braided line, that lays nicely along the perimeter of the can, but I estimate double that amount of line could fit while still leaving room for the hooks. 

Hooks can then be stacked on top of the line and pulled out as needed. A variety of sizes and different kinds of hooks should be packed as they will provide different fishing options. 

Storing the hooks in a small resealable bag or wrapped in tin foil will help to keep them organized and easier to deal with. I used a miniature resealable bag that contained roughly thirty fishing hooks. 

On a side note, if you go with tin foil, it can be used as a type of spinner for grabbing a fish’s attention. Or, using a multitool part of the metal can could be turned into a spinner or lure as well.

Additionally, in a true survival situation, a fishing kit can be used to obtain other animals as well. 

Storing the Kit 

If this kit is not one you intend on using unless you have to I would make one last recommendation. 

Cut off a strip of heavy-duty duct tape and use it to seal the seam where the lid meets the can by adhering the tape all the way around the container.

This will help to keep water out and prevent the lid from popping off and spilling the contents of the kit everywhere. 

Pros and Cons of Dip Can Survival Kit



Wrap Up

The main purpose of this article was to show that a container, no matter how small, can be repurposed and used to carry a few important survival items. 

By thinking outside of the box, or in this instance the can, you will discover an endless amount of ways that critical gear can be carried. This will help in keeping a person minimally prepared all the time, no matter the situation. 

Thanks for reading and stay prepared! 

Have you ever used a dip can as a survival kit? Sound off in the comment section below and let us know how you used it!

Bryan Lynch

Bryan grew up in the Midwest and spent every waking moment outdoors. Learning how to hunt, fish, read the land, and be self-reliant was part of everyday life. Eventually, he combined his passions for the outdoors, emergency preparedness, and writing. His goal was to spread positive information about this field. In 2019, Bryan authored the book Swiss Army Knife Camping and Outdoor Survival Guide. His second book, Paracord Projects For Camping and Outdoor Survival, is scheduled to be released on March 2, 2021.