Beer Can Dumping & Cleaning Procedures

Beer can dumping is an exciting way to embark on your own real life adventure. If you like the idea of searching for unknown treasure, then you'll love the thrill of beer can dumping. The word dumping means to look for rarities, such as old beer cans, in any place you can find such discarded objects. To many who participate in this rewarding hobby, the process of discovering, salvaging, cleaning, restoring, and displaying old beer cans is unique and unforgettable.

Locations and methods

If you are searching for old beer cans, it may not be the best idea to visit the average dumpster or trash can. While these may hold many beer cans, the sort of cans you will be searching for should be older and just a bit harder to find. They should also be much rarer, and much more valuable than contemporary cans. One good place to begin your search is in a car junk yard. If you can find an old car, chances are that the trunk of that vehicle may indeed contain one or a number of discarded beer cans. Another great place to search may be an abandoned home or buildings. These are gold mines for discarded antiques and beer cans.

If you enjoy swimming or diving, lakes and harbors make great places to find old cans. It is important that you ask permission before beer can dumping on private properties, whether they are lakes, beaches, harbors, homes, or vehicles. Failure to d so may result in unwanted and unnecessary conflict, confusion, and perhaps even prosecution. Remember, as a beer can dumper, you are professional at what you do. In order to have a successful dump, you must make sure that you are not infringing on locations and properties that you have not obtained the rights or permission to enter.

Tools and equipment

For lake and harbor dumpers, it is important that the appropriate swimming and diving apparatus be obtained and properly worn at all times. Diving for treasure can be a fun and intriguing idea, but if handled without the proper precautions, what would have otherwise result in a fun day of diving with friends may become a disaster.

If you plan to search for cans on land, you may want to secure a pair of heavy duty gloves. These will help to prevent injuries to your hands while searching. You need those hands if you plan on being a successful beer can dumper! Also, be sure that whatever method you chose to use for collecting the cans should involve a sturdy non tearable bag. Simple plastic bags may rupture or tear. Using a cloth bag or a heavy plastic or wooden container to store your cans may be a much better option. Be sure to keep your cans from jostling and colliding with one another, as this may further damage the structure and paint of the cans.

Safety advice and procedures

When searching in abandoned buildings, it is important that beer can dumpers take necessary safety precautions. Dumpers should not enter a building that has been condemned or that has been deemed structurally unsound in anyway. When entering dilapidated homes, be sure to wear a protective face mask. Many older homes were built with a dangers carcinogen called asbestos. Inhaling asbestos or many other hazardous indoor air pollutants can cause serious and sometimes even fatal detriment to long term health and overall well being. Stay safe by using a protective mask at all times.

Any injury sustained while retrieving or locating cans should be taken seriously. Because cans and surrounding environments are often very old, rust and other bacteria may infect even the simplest cuts and scrapes. Wearing protective clothing such as thick long sleeved shirts and long legged pants, as well as heavy duty boots, can protect you from stepping on anything or scraping against anything that may because you harm during your adventure. Also, carrying a first aid kit with you at all times is always a sensible precaution.

When searching for beer cans in lakes or deserted places, it is important that you take a friend along with you. In a crisis, having someone else know of your whereabouts could save much trouble in the long run. Of course, it may be a good idea to dive for cans during the warmer months of the year to avoid frostbite and hypothermia. It is also a good idea to leave a note or message with someone who will not be dumping with you that relays where you will be and how long you plan to be there. That way, in case of an unfortunate accident, someone who is not involved in the circumstance will know where to find you. Be safe; be smart; have fun.

Also, rather surprisingly, something as simple as wearing a hat while searching for cans outdoors can prevent you, the dumper, from dehydration and sunburn. A healthy dumper is a cautious dumper. By bringing fresh drinking water along and using sunscreen with a high spf number, you can reduce your risk of cancer and minimize your chance of heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and other dehydration induced conditions that often require hospitalization.

Cleaning and Restoration

While locating and retrieving the cans is a large part of the fun you will have while beer can dumping, cleaning the cans may in fact be the most rewarding part of the process. Beer can restoration is a delicate process that requires caution and precision, but the results of cleaning the cans you have found are well worth the search and the restoration efforts.

Cleaning and restoration products and procedures

The first thing you will need to do with your cans is to wash them in warm water. The best tools to use for this are a soft bristle toothbrush or a soft washcloth. It is important not to be rough with the cans during their first washing. Don't attempt to remove the rust through scrubbing. Only use the warm water and the toothbrush or washcloth to gently remove other debris and dirt from the surface of the cans. It is also important not to use any type or brand of soap during this step. The use of soap will weaken the effects of the acid, which will be used in just a few steps.

Prepare hot water in an n old lidded beer cooler. It is very important that you do not use boiling water for this step, as the use of boiling water may fade the colors of some cans. For every gallon of water, pour in one fourth cup of citric acid. Place the cans carefully in the mixture, one by one, making sure to use the first can as a tester before submerging the others. It is important not to toss all of the cans in a t once, as this may cause the hot water and citric acid combination to splash, affecting you or your surroundings negatively. It may be a good idea to execute this procedure outdoors, as the rust and citric acid may stain bathroom and kitchen fixtures like sinks, toilets, bathtubs, and showers.


Wear long, thick rubber gloves when handling the cans in the citric acid. Not only will the concoction stain clothes and hands, it may result in moderate to severe irritation of the skin. Luckily, citric acid does not require you to wear a mask of any sort. However, if you use oxalic acid instead of citric acid, be sure to purchase and appropriately use a ventilator mask. A simple dust mask or handkerchief will not protect you from inhaling unwanted fumes. Some cans made in the 1950's use metallic paint, which holds up much better in oxalic acid than in citric acid.

As the cans soak, be sure to keep an eye on them and check them periodically. Keeping in mind that every can is different and depending on just how rusted a particular can is, the cleaning process may take one or two hours to forty eight hours total. However, it is a good idea not to check on the cans too often because opening the lid of the cooler may slow the deoxidization process further. To check the progress of the can, remove it from the citric acid and rinse it with warm water using a soft washcloth to remove excess rust or caked on dirt. If the can is clean, submerge it in a mixture of baking soda and water. This removes the acid and makes the can safe for handling once again.

When all of the cans are finished, allow them to air dry at their own rates. From finding your first beer can, to taking it home and restoring it, your beer can dumping experience should be an enjoyable one. Hopefully, your cleaning process will be a success and you will be able to display a brand new set of beer cans!