What a Can Crusher Is and How it works ? Crusher Info & DIY

What is can crusher?

Can crusher is a tool that is used for crushing empty aluminum cans for easier recycling. It is a tool for everyday usage and is especially useful for those, who use a lot of cans, for example, drinking soda from aluminum cans. The most common type of cans that people use regularly are soda cans. If you are  a common soda drinker, you probably have a large bag of empty cans lying on floor in your kitchen or garage. Compressing all those cans with your hands or feet would not only take a lot of time, but also would be very exhausting. Uncompressed cans can take up a lot of space, especially larger 16 and more oz. cans. Can crusher is able to compress cans to just 1 inch height. For example, if size of an average 16 oz can is approximately 9 inches than aluminum can crusher will compress 16 oz can 9 times smaller. This way you will have a free room for 9 more cans in your garbage disposal. The size of a regular 12 oz can is approx. 4.75 inches, which means that is can be compressed down 4 times of its usual height with a can crusher.

can crusher
Aluminum can crusher

Aluminum can crushers can be used not only to compress soda cans, but also for other types of aluminum cans. Besides drinking soda, people also like to drink beer. Every beer drinker knows how much beer cans are left over after a party. It would be a pain to crush all these cans with your hands or feet. And if you won’t crush all the cans you will have large garbage bags full of empty cans that will take up a lot of space in your trash. Can crushers do not cost lot of money, but can be a very useful tool in your house. Besides soda and beer cans, can crusher is able to compress other aluminum cans too, including empty food cans. Each can crusher has size limits of cans it can compose, which is indicated, when you buy a crusher. Usual can sizes that crusher can compose are 8, 12, 16 oz.

Can crusher can not only help to save up more space in your home, but you can also earn some bucks for aluminum recycling. In many states you can get money for recycling aluminum. As composed aluminum cans take up a lot less space than normal aluminum cans, you can collect all your empty cans for couple of months and stuff them into a large bag, and afterwards take them to a recycling center and get paid money for all those cans. Thanks to this activity everyone is a winner:

  • You get money for recycling aluminum
  • Aluminum recycling is environmental friendly activity and is required to help to make earth a greener place to live. By recycling aluminum, you actually do a little job to help to save and improve environment around you.

How it works


The way how a can crusher works is pretty simple.  Aluminum can crusher consists from a frame, handle with soft grip at the end, hinges, compressing plate and metal bolts that hold all mechanism together. These parts can be made from different materials, depending on the type of can crusher. Cheaper can crushers are made from plastic parts. These parts are made from high quality plastics like nylon, which is a durable material. More expensive can crushers are made from stainless steel or aluminum and will ensure long product life. Bolts for can crushers are usually made from steel, which improves the lifespan of a crusher, so no parts of crusher becomes loose after longer time of usage.

Can crusher is a tool that needs to be operated manually. This means that crushing process needs to be done by you. However, there are few can crushers that offer automatic can crushing. Some of these can crushers uses pneumatic cylinder systems and crushes empty cans with power of compressed gas. Most of automatic can crushers are just individual experiments and cannot be purchased. Besides these crushers for home usage, there are also industrial crushers, which are being used not only to crush smaller soda cans, but also for crushing large color cans, oil cans, gas cans and other more durable metal buckets and cans. These crushers cost a lot more than smaller aluminum can crushers and are used for industrial applications.

can crushing
Can crushing with a regular can crusher

Crushing process

Crushing process for a can crusher is very simple.

  • You have to push leveler up, so the crushing plate goes up and frees space, where you can place the empty aluminum can. (Remember to make sure that can is fully empty before compressing it, or otherwise, you might get an unpleasant surprise, when crushing a can.)
  • When can is placed into the crusher, just pull the leveler down, and crushing plate will compose the aluminum can.
  • At the end take out the composed can that will be in the height of approx. 1 inch and dispose it into garbage.

This process is for a single can crusher, but there are also semi-automatic can crushers that can hold multiple cans at the same time. These can crushers have a collection tray on top of the crusher, where you can place multiple cans (from 4 up to 10 depending on type of the semi-automatic crusher). When all cans have been placed into the tray, you can start compressing them one by one. Compression process is similar to single can crusher, difference is that you do not have to put cans one by one into the crusher, but they drop in automatically from the tray, when you pull the leveler.

Collection bin

can collection binSome aluminum can crushers come with a collection bin incorporated at the bottom of the crusher. This collection bin collects all cans that you compress, so you do not have to take out each can after compression and put it into a garbage bag. Can collection bin makes can crushing process a little faster. Also, sometimes we forget to fully empty our soda or beer cans and some liquid is still located inside a can. When can gets crushed, this liquid leaks out of the can, which makes all process messier, and most of the time we do not want to touch the can with our hands. This is where can collection bins come in handy. That empty can gets disposed into collection bin immediately after it is compressed and you do not have to touch it with your hands. When collection bin is full with cans, just take it out, drop all cans in a garbage bag, take them to a recycling point and collect money for recycling aluminum, easy, clean and fast way to get rid of empty cans.

Interested in green lifestyle, blogging and sports. Always searching for ways to improve myself and the environment around me. Editor for dorecycling.com


  1. Maxwell Moathudi Says: August 25, 2017 at 10:34 am

    Hello Jeremy. I am writing to you from Botswana in Southern Africa. I am interested in building some portable can crushers. This interest is prompted by the sad reality that a lot of our people do not have jobs and most people, especially the elderly women, are seen around collecting aluminium cans for resale. These are rather too bulky to carry and I wonder if you could provide me with plans to build portable can crushers for them. I will remain grateful for your advise and assistance.

    Kind regards

    • Hi Maxwell,
      Instructables has a great article on easy and very simple DIY can crusher project. You can find it here.
      But if that is too simple for you, you can just Google “how to build a can crusher” and there are a ton of different homemade can crusher project instructions out there.

  2. How do the Big Motorized Industrial Crushers Work?

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