Occasionally, I go camping and cook beans over a fire inside of the [what I am assuming is tin] can it comes packaged in (after opening the lid). Does heating the metal can release any chemicals in the food? Is it safe?

I usually have the top of the can open and stir it frequently.

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    Even "real" tin cans have generally never been tin cans - they are tin-plated steel. And most modern ones skip the tin in favor of the plastic coating, at least on the inside.
    – Ecnerwal
    May 3, 2015 at 1:51

5 Answers 5


The interior of modern cans are a heat resistant plastic (remember they pressure cook the cans at the factory), and will be fine for heating liquid things

Just don't try using it to fry stuff!

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    +1 but remember to not use it for long duration cooking as the chemicals can start to leech into the content of the can (though even then it'd take exposure over a long period to build up to anything approaching dangerous levels in the human body). Heating a can of product or water ok, just don't let it simmer for hours :)
    – jwenting
    Jun 13, 2014 at 7:24
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    @jwenting I don't think that point is valid. Below 100°C should be fine for a very long time. Epoxy just doesn't break down in that temperature range. With the right catalyst it will degrade at 130°C, otherwise expoxy is good to about 170°C, and even then it's just losing strength, not chemically degrading. When it chemically degrades, it emits a very obnoxious taste and smell. You couldn't eat the food anyway
    – TFD
    May 3, 2015 at 3:18
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    There are even some recipes that specifically call for cooking the product in the existing can, like boiling a sealed can of sweetened condensed milk to make a caramel sauce.
    – MeltedPez
    Oct 8, 2015 at 14:26
  • Nice. I'll try this when camping. But I do believe there is some plastic leaching going on... so I won't cook in cans as a permanent lifestyle choice.
    – Paulb
    Feb 25, 2017 at 0:40
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    A campfire reaches quite high temperatures compared to cooking at home. I'd worry about hotspots melting the plastic into my beans. Jan 6, 2019 at 4:31

Steel cans might release trace amounts of chromium and nickel when heated but aluminum leaches much more easily, according to Scientific American Magazine. Aluminum is linked to significant health problems, including disorders of the nervous system.

The linings that coat most cans of either type may contain BPA, a chemical linked to cancer and reproductive diseases.

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    If you dig hard enough, everything causes cancer...
    – Robert
    Feb 25, 2017 at 17:09

Be especially aware of cans with plastic liners. Remember it's plastic, chances are it will melt off into your food. It's a wiser practice to first burn out the can, i.e. Roast it in or over a fire to melt/ burn any undesirable chemicals/ plastics before you use it. After doing so wash it out and you're good to go.

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    That sounds like quite an elaborate procedure just for the simplicity of cooking your beans in a campfire. Probably easier just to bring along a lightweight pan.
    – Lorel C.
    Feb 24, 2017 at 15:56

googled and found some people warns about not scrubbing away the liner or whatever the plastic is in some or many of the cans. found out a company that sells cans and they said like scientists has researched and found it BPA is the safest way for food storage so well...

i say burn it. the last thing we would want in our bodies is BPA. burning is probably way easier and goes with less little time also than scrubbing. plus you already have the fire going so whats the problem.

i would probably take with me some sandpaper and scrubb it also. perhaps some of the chromium and other stuff that makes the steel looks shiny and sweet goes away then too.


buy organic bpa free canned beans and you won't have a problem and a tonne better for you...

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    I guess you're saying it's not safe otherwise? I don't think that's true.
    – Cascabel
    Jul 29, 2015 at 3:14

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