Why are some foods canned in Tin and others in Aluminum?

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Why are some foods canned in Tin and others in Aluminum?

Many of our everyday meals and beverages, as well as products, are canned. This has been the case for much longer than you may believe. The canning technology around foods, pet food, paint, oil, and chemicals has developed over time to include screw tops, ring pulls, stay-on tabs, and recyclable double-seamed seams.


In 1809, the Emperor of France Napoleon Bonaparte offers a prize of 12,000 Francs to anyone who can devise a method for preserving food for his army and navy. After Nicolas Appert (France) invents the technique of sterilizing food in 1810, he receives the government’s 12,000 Franc award.


Canned food is processed and sealed in an airtight container (Mason jars, steel and tin cans) to preserve it for a long time. Canning has a shelf life of one to five years on average, although it can be considerably longer in specific cases.

Freeze-drying reduces the risk of bacterial growth and extends shelf life, so a canned dried lentil product such as dried lentils might last up to 30 years in an eatable condition.


The National Food Processors Association tested samples of canned food from the Bertrand, a steamboat that sank in the Missouri River in 1865, in 1974. Although the exterior, aroma, and vitamin content had changed, no sign of bacterial growth was found, and the 109-year-old food was deemed safe to consume.


In 1825, Thomas Kensett and Ezra Daggert sell their patented cans packed with oysters, fruits, meats, and vegetables to New Yorkers. Canned food did not become popular in the United States until Gail Bordon created condensed milk in 1856.


Although some people interchange tin cans and aluminum cans, the two are not synonymous. People utilize tin cans and aluminum cans for similar purposes, although they are produced from different materials and have varying qualities and manufacturing expenses.


Tin cans are heavier and more durable than aluminum cans. Tin cans are also extremely resistant to acidic foods, such as tomatoes, because of their high corrosion resistance. However, compared to aluminum cans, tin cans are less efficient for recycling.


Aluminum and tin are both highly flexible, pliable metals. They’re both anti-corrosive and simple to machine.


Because tin is a rare element on Earth, it is the 49th most abundant metal; whereas aluminum is the 3rd most common metal and the most widespread element on Earth, is found almost everywhere.


Aluminum and tin are frequently confused, such as with tin foil and the like. In industrial applications, aluminum has largely replaced tin. Tin is considered to be hazardous to humans because of its toxicity, but aluminum isn’t inherently so.

Fun facts:

Are Spam cans tin or aluminum?

It was Tin, but In July ’98, Austin, MN-based Hormel Foods began a transition from three-piece to two-piece aluminum cans for its well-known SPAM® line


How can you tell if a metal is an aluminum or tin?

In the event that you suspect your metal to be aluminum, double-check it by performing the magnet test once more. Aluminum and tin may be mistaken for one another, but tin will cling to a magnet while aluminum will not. Tin also has a similar colour to aluminum, although it has a somewhat duller appearance.

If you ever need help finding the right aluminum alloy & temper for your special projects,  give us a call we can help.

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