How many 12 oz cans makes a pound?

Quick answer: It takes 16 standard 12-ounce aluminum cans to make a pound. One 12-ounce can weighs approximately 0.75 pounds. To get to one pound, you would need 16 cans that each weigh 0.75 pounds. So 16 x 0.75 pounds = 12 pounds. Therefore, 16 standard 12-ounce cans make 1 pound.

Cans are a common form of packaging for foods and beverages like soda, vegetables, soup, and more. Standard sizes for cans include 12 ounces and 16 ounces. When buying canned goods in bulk or collecting cans for recycling, it can be useful to know how many cans make up a pound.

For standard 12-ounce aluminum cans, like those used for soda, beer, and other beverages, it takes 16 cans to make up a pound. This is because each individual 12-ounce can weighs about 0.75 pounds on its own. Sixteen of these 0.75 pound cans will provide the total weight of 12 pounds, or 1 full pound.

Knowing this conversion can be convenient for tracking your recycling weight and earnings, planning for events and parties, or when buying canned goods in bulk. This article will provide more details on the weight of standard 12-ounce cans and how many it takes to make a pound.

Weight of a Standard 12-Ounce Aluminum Can

Most canned beverages like soda, beer, flavored sparkling water, and energy drinks come in 12-ounce cans. Also sometimes called 355 milliliter cans, these cans have become standard over the last several decades.

The 12-ounce measurement refers to the volume capacity of the can. However, the actual empty aluminum can weighs less than the 12 ounce capacity. On average, a 12-ounce empty aluminum can weighs about 0.75 pounds (or 12 ounces).

This is the approximate weight without any liquid contents inside the can. The weight can vary slightly between brands based on can wall thickness and other factors. However, 0.75 pounds is widely accepted as the average weight.

So if you had a single 12-ounce aluminum can and put it on a scale, the scale would register 0.75 lbs.

Factors Affecting 12-Ounce Can Weight

While the average is about 0.75 lbs, there are a few factors that can influence the exact weight:

– Aluminum thickness – Thicker aluminum walls increase weight slightly

– Brand styles – Different shaping, lid styles, etc. affect metal usage

– Manufacturer specs – Some brands target minimum weights

– Can conditions – Dents or damage may cause small weight changes

– Scale accuracy – Measurements within 0.1 lbs are considered acceptable

– Contents – Any liquid inside adds weight (roughly 1 lb per 12 oz liquid)

But even with these slight variability factors, 0.75 pounds is a reasonable estimate in most cases for an empty can.

Weight and Volume Are Different

It’s important to understand the difference between the weight of a can and its liquid volume capacity. The 12 ounces in the name refers to volume only.

For example, if you pour 12 fluid ounces of water or soda into an empty 12 oz can, it will fill it up. But the resulting full can will weigh about 1.75 pounds – the 0.75 lbs can itself, plus the 1 pound of liquid added.

So the volume (12 oz) and weight (0.75 lbs) are separate specifications to understand.

Calculating Pounds Based on 12-Ounce Cans

Now that we know a single 12-ounce can weighs approximately 0.75 lbs, we can calculate how many cans it takes to make specific pound weights.

Let’s walk through the math for some common examples:

How Many Cans Make 1 Pound?

If 1 can = 0.75 lbs
Then to make 1 pound, do:

1 pound / 0.75 lbs per can = 1.33 cans

Rounding up, it takes about 16 cans to make 1 pound.

To validate:

16 cans x 0.75 lbs each = 12 lbs

So 16 of the 12-ounce cans make 1 pound total.

How Many Cans Make 5 Pounds?

If 16 cans make 1 pound, then for 5 pounds you would need:

16 cans x 5 pounds = 80 cans

To validate:

80 cans x 0.75 lbs each = 60 lbs

So 80 twelve-ounce cans make 5 pounds.

How Many Cans Make 55 Pounds?

Using same math:

16 cans = 1 lb

55 lbs x 16 cans = 880 cans


880 cans x 0.75 lbs each = 660 lbs

So for 55 pounds, you would need about 880 cans.

Cans Required for Different Beverage Sizes

In addition to the standard 12-ounce can size, common aluminum can sizes include 7 oz, 10 oz, 16 oz, 24 oz, and 32 oz. Here is how many of each different size can make up 1 pound:

Can Size Cans for 1 Pound
7 oz 24 cans
10 oz 18 cans
12 oz (355 ml) 16 cans
16 oz 12 cans
24 oz 8 cans
32 oz 6 cans

As shown in the table, smaller cans require more to make a pound, while larger cans require fewer.

The math follows the same pattern of dividing 1 pound by the weight of an individual can. For example:

1 lb / 0.5 lbs per 10 oz can = 2 cans

Rounding up = 18 cans needed for 1 lb

Variables That Change the Number of Cans Per Pound

The standard numbers for cans per pound listed above are based on average weights for empty aluminum beverage cans. However, there are some variables that can change the weights and therefore the number of cans per pound.

1. Can Material

The numbers above are specifically for today’s aluminum cans. In the past, steel was more common for cans. Since steel is denser and heavier than aluminum, fewer steel cans make up a pound compared to aluminum cans of the same volume.

For example, an 12 oz steel can weighs about 1 pound by itself, versus 0.75 pounds for aluminum. So it would only take 8 steel cans to make a pound, versus 16 aluminum cans.

2. Can Size and Shape

The standard shapes used above, like regular conical 12 oz cans, make the math relatively consistent. But unusual shapes like long skinny cans or very short wide cans through off the typical weights.

For example, an abnormally short but wide 12 oz can may only need 12 cans for a pound, versus the typical 16. Can wall thickness also plays a role.

3. Damaged Cans

Any damage like large dents or holes that remove metal will lighten the can and require more to make a pound. So damaged cans would change the numbers higher.

4. Contents

As mentioned, the numbers above are for empty cans only. Any liquid inside adds about 1 pound per 12 ounces.

So a 12 oz can full of liquid would weigh about 1.75 pounds and it would only take 8 full 12 oz cans for a pound.

Common Use Cases

Here are some examples where knowing the number of cans per pound is useful:

Shopping in Bulk

When buying canned beverages like soda, coconut water, or sparkling water in bulk from wholesale retailers like Costco or Sam’s Club, the cans are often sold by the pound.

Knowing cans per pound helps you estimate quantities and compare prices. For example, if canned coconut water is $5 per pound, and you want to buy 160 cans, you’d know you need about 10 pounds.

Transporting Cans

Carrying heavy bags or boxes filled with cans can be made easier if you know about how many cans make up certain weights.

For example, filling a box with 80 cans to make 5 pounds may be reasonable to carry, while 130 cans weighing over 8 pounds could be too heavy.

Recycling Weight

Many states now refund small deposits when recycling aluminum cans, usually 5 or 10 cents per can. Recycling centers will often weigh your cans to calculate refunds based on the pound weight.

So knowing roughly how many cans you have based on pound increments can help estimate your payouts. 16 cans per pound is useful to remember.

Event Planning

When planning for large events, parties, or gatherings, you may need to buy beverages by the case. Knowing cans per pound makes it easier to estimate the right quantities to buy.

For example, for a party with 100 people you might estimate each will drink 3 cans on average. That’s 300 cans total or about 20 pounds of cans to buy (300 cans / 16 cans per pound).

Cans vs. Weight: Common Q&As

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about relating standard can sizes and weights:

How many 12 ounce cans are in a pound?

16 standard 12-ounce aluminum cans make up 1 pound. This is based on each can weighing approximately 0.75 pounds.

How much does a 12 ounce aluminum can weigh?

A typical 12-ounce aluminum beverage can weighs about 0.75 pounds on average when empty. The actual liquid contents fill the 12-ounce volume capacity.

How many 12 ounce cans equal 50 pounds?

To make 50 pounds using 12-ounce cans, multiply the 16 cans per pound by 50 pounds. That equals 800 cans to make 50 pounds.

What’s the weight of a standard soda can?

The standard 12-ounce soda can made of aluminum weighs about 0.75 pounds when empty on average across brands.

How much does a 16 oz aluminum can weigh?

A 16-ounce aluminum beverage can weighs approximately 1 pound when empty. So it takes about 12 cans to make a pound.

How many pounds is 120 cans?

If the cans are standard 12-ounce size, then 120 cans would equal about 7.5 pounds (120 cans divided by 16 cans per pound). For 16-ounce cans it would be 10 pounds (120/12).

Formulas for Calculating

The calculations for determining pounds based on different can sizes follow simple formulas:

Cans Required for 1 Pound

Number of cans for 1 pound = 1 lb / weight of single can


16 cans = 1 lb / 0.75 lbs (12 oz can weight)
8 cans = 1 lb / 1 lb (16 oz can weight)

Pounds Based on Can Quantity

Total pounds = Number of cans / cans required for 1 pound


60 cans / 16 cans per lb = 3.75 lbs (for 12 oz cans)
100 cans / 8 cans per lb = 12.5 lbs (for 16 oz cans)

Cans Needed for Target Pound

Cans needed = Target pounds x cans required for 1 pound


Cans for 2 lbs = 2 * 16 = 32 cans (12 oz cans)
Cans for 11 lbs = 11 * 8 = 88 cans (16 oz cans)

So by knowing the base number of cans per pound for a given can size, you can easily calculate between quantities using these formulas.

Cans vs. Weight Conversion Table

For quick reference, here is a conversion table showing the number of common sized aluminum cans that equal different pound weights:

Can Size Cans for 1 lb Cans for 5 lbs Cans for 10 lbs
7 oz 24 120 240
10 oz 18 90 180
12 oz 16 80 160
16 oz 12 60 120
24 oz 8 40 80
32 oz 6 30 60

You can reference this table when you need to quickly know the number of cans for different pound weights. It provides the data for common planning and estimating scenarios.

Visual Representations

To visualize how many 12 oz cans make up varying pound weights, here are some example graphics.

This image shows the 16 cans required for 1 pound:

This image represents the 80 cans needed for 5 pounds:

And this graphic shows the 160 cans that make 10 pounds:

Having these visuals can provide another way to grasp the number of 12 oz cans per pound. Seeing how they stack up can give a more tangible sense of the weight.

Applications Beyond Beverage Cans

While this article focuses on common beverage can sizes, the same principles apply to calculating pounds versus can quantities for other products like:

– Canned fruits and vegetables
– Canned soups or beans
– Canned meats like tuna
– Canned pet food

Many of these also come in standard sizes similar to beverage cans. So the same math of dividing by the individual can weight applies.

For example, a 6 oz can of tuna weighs about 0.4 pounds. So you can calculate that it would take 40 cans to make 10 pounds. The cans per pound metric is broadly useful beyond just beverages.

Equivalents with Other Weight Units

In addition to pounds, you can use cans to gauge other weight units like:


– 16 cans = 0.75 kg
– 320 cans = 5 kg


– 1 can = 12 oz
– 16 cans = 192 oz (12 lbs)


– 1 can = 340 g
– 16 cans = 5,440 g (5.44 kg)

Knowing these other equivalents can be handy for recipes or measurements that use metric units instead of pounds.


Based on the average weight of a standard 12-ounce aluminum can, it takes about 16 cans to equal 1 pound in weight. This provides a useful baseline for conceptualizing and estimating weights when dealing with large canned good quantities.

Whether it’s for shopping, recycling, events, or other purposes, memorizing this 16 cans per pound conversion can help with planning weights and logistics. And the same math applies for calculating any amount, from a few pounds to over 50 pounds or more.

Understanding can sizes versus approximate weights provides an easy shortcut for these types of estimations. So next time you’re managing beverage cans in bulk, remember the rule of 16 cans to the pound!

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