How many ounces has a can?

How many ounces are in a can? The answer depends on the type and size of the can. Cans come in many shapes and sizes, from small 5 oz cans to large gallon sized cans. The most common can sizes are 12 oz and 16 oz.

12 Ounce Cans

A standard 12 ounce can contains exactly 12 fluid ounces or about 355 milliliters. This is a very common size used for canned sodas, beers, juices, and other beverages. A 12 oz can is approximately 4.75 inches tall and 2.5 inches in diameter.

Some examples of products packaged in 12 oz cans:

Coca-Cola 12 fl oz
Sprite 12 fl oz
Root Beer 12 fl oz
Budweiser Beer 12 fl oz

So if you grab a standard 12 ounce can off the shelf, you can expect it to contain 12 fluid ounces of liquid inside. This has been the standard can size for single-serve beverages for decades.

16 Ounce Cans

A 16 ounce, or “pounder” can contains 16 fluid ounces which is equal to approximately 473 milliliters. These cans are a bit taller at about 5.5 inches high with about a 2.75 inch diameter.

16 oz cans are commonly used for energy drinks, Arizona Iced Tea beverages, and some beers. You’ll see brands like:

Monster Energy Drink 16 fl oz
Rockstar Energy Drink 16 fl oz
Arizona Iced Tea 16 fl oz
Tall Boy Beer Cans 16 fl oz

So when you see a 16 ounce can, you can expect it to contain 16 fluid ounces of liquid inside. The can will be slightly taller and wider than a standard 12 ounce can.

8 Ounce Cans

8 ounce cans are smaller, shorter cans that contain 8 fluid ounces or about 240 milliliters of liquid. They measure approximately 4 inches tall and 2 inches in diameter.

Some common products in 8 oz cans:

Canned Tuna 8 fl oz
Canned Soup 8 fl oz
Canned Vegetables 8 fl oz
Canned Beans 8 fl oz

So when you see a small 8 oz can on the store shelf, you know there will be 8 fluid ounces of content inside.

5 Ounce Cans

Very small 5 ounce cans are used for packaging small quantities of products like tuna, cat food, vienna sausages, and pudding. These cans contain 5 fluid ounces which equals about 148 milliliters.

The diminutive 5 oz cans stand around 3 inches tall and have a diameter of approximately 2 inches.

Canned Tuna 5 fl oz
Canned Cat Food 5 fl oz
Vienna Sausages 5 fl oz
Canned Pudding 5 fl oz

So when you see a petite 5 ounce can in the store, you can be sure it contains just 5 fluid ounces of food or beverage inside.

Large Can Sizes

In addition to small cans, some products come in very large can sizes of 46 oz, 48 oz, and even gallon-sized cans.

Some examples:

Large Cans of Juice 46 fl oz
Gallon Sized Cans of Tea 128 fl oz
Large Tomato Cans 48 fl oz
Gallon Paint Cans 128 fl oz

So if you come across an abnormally large can in the grocery store or home improvement store, check the label closely to see how many fluid ounces it contains. Oversized cans may contain anywhere from 46-128 ounces of liquid inside.

Common Can Sizes

To summarize, here are some of the most common can sizes and their liquid volumes:

5 ounce can 5 fl oz
8 ounce can 8 fl oz
12 ounce can 12 fl oz
16 ounce “pounder” can 16 fl oz
46 ounce large can 46 fl oz
48 ounce large can 48 fl oz
Gallon can 128 fl oz

So the next time you pick up a can off the shelf, take note of the size and you’ll know exactly how many ounces of liquid are inside!

Factors that Determine Can Size

Why are some products packaged in small 5 oz cans while others come in large gallon sized cans? There are a few factors that determine appropriate can sizes for different products:

Intended Use/Consumption Patterns

– Smaller cans like 5-8 oz are meant for single serve use or consumption in one sitting.

– Standard 12 oz cans are sized for convenient one-time consumption of a beverage.

– Larger cans hold enough for multiple servings or uses over time. A gallon of paint will be used across many painting sessions.

Ingredient Density and Weight

– Denser, heavier ingredients like tuna or beans require smaller cans to keep the weight manageable.

– Lighter ingredients like juices, tea, and soda can be put in larger cans and still be lifted easily.

Product Shelf Life

– Some products have a shorter shelf life once opened. Smaller cans ensure the contents won’t spoil before use.

– Products with longer shelf lives can be packaged in larger cans that take longer to use up.

Manufacturing and Distribution Efficiency

– Standardized can sizes allow manufacturers to maximize production speed and efficiency.

– Common can sizes make it easier to ship, store, and display products for retailers.

So in summary, the ideal can size depends on how much the product will be used at once, the density of the ingredients, the shelf life, and manufacturing/distribution needs.

Notable Events in Can History

Cans and canning have an interesting history! Here are some notable events:

1795 – First Canning Patent

The first patent for tin cans was granted to Frenchman Philippe Girard. His invention allowed food preservation in airtight tin containers.

1810 – First Commercial Canning

The first commercial canning factory opened in England. Canned foods quickly became important for feeding Napoleon’s armies as well as British navy expeditions around the world.

1901 – Standard Tin Can Sizes

Standard dimensions for tin cans were established in order to streamline manufacturing. Common sizes like 6 oz, 14 oz, 20 oz, etc. became widely adopted.

1935 – First Beer in Cans

Krueger Brewing Company sold the first canned beer in Richmond, Virginia. The cans had flat tops and had to be opened with a special brewery-provided opener.

1959 – Pull Tab Invented

The modern pull tab was invented, eliminating the need for a separate opener tool to access canned drinks. Cans with pull tabs became extremely popular and widespread.

2010 – Canned Wine Gains Popularity

Wine in single-serve aluminum cans gained popularity, especially for outdoor events and active lifestyles. The trend continues rising today.

The canning journey that started in the 1800s transformed over two centuries into the convenient canned goods we know today!

Canned Food Nutrition

Canned foods are shelf-stable, meaning they can be stored without refrigeration. The canning process allows food to be preserved and retain its nutritional value. Here are some facts about canned food nutrition:

Heating Process

Canning involves high heat processing to destroy bacteria and inactivate enzymes. This retains nutrients that would otherwise be lost during storage.

Vitamin Retention

Studies show canned fruits and vegetables retain similar levels of vitamins like A, C, B6, folate, thiamin, niacin, iron, and potassium as their fresh or frozen counterparts.

Added Nutrients

Some canned foods even have nutritional advantages over fresh varieties. Certain brands add extra nutrients like vitamin D, calcium, and omega-3s to products like canned salmon.

No Added Preservatives

Canning techniques create a vacuum seal and high heat to preserve food and prevent spoilage. Added preservatives are not required for most shelf-stable canned goods.


Canned produce is generally more affordable per serving than fresh varieties. Canned food provides budget-friendly nutrition.

So contrary to some concerns, canned foods can actually retain nutrients and provide health benefits as part of a balanced diet!

Canned Food Safety

Proper canning processes and food safety steps create shelf-stable products free from harmful bacteria. Here are some tips for safe canned food consumption:

Check for Damages

Inspect cans for dents, cracks, bulges, leaks, holes, and swelling that could indicate contaminated contents. Don’t consume from damaged cans.

Follow Expiration Dates

Consume canned goods before their Best By date for optimal freshness and nutrient content. Don’t consume cans more than 1-2 years past the date.

Listen for Hissing

Hissing when opening a can means air is entering and signals potential bacterial growth. Do not eat foods from cans that hiss or foam upon opening.

Rinse Surfaces

Rinse can lids and surfaces before consumption to remove residual food, grease, etc. This eliminates risks from handling during manufacturing.

Reheat When Possible

Reheating canned food thoroughly helps kill potential bacteria present. Certain foods like canned soup should always be reheated.

Following basic safety steps helps you get all the benefits of canned food without risk of foodborne illness. Check labels for guidance and always practice safe consumption.

Canning Process Overview

Preserving food through the commercial canning process involves multiple steps:


Fruits, vegetables, meats, etc. are cleaned, peeled, trimmed, and precooked as needed for canning.

Filling & Exhausting

Food is filled into cans, after which air is removed from the can headspace through a vacuum process called exhausting.


The filled cans are sealed shut either with soldered flat lids or double-rolled rims. Sealing prevents reentry of air.


Cans are heat processed using boiling water, steam, or pressure methods. This destroys bacteria and inactivates enzymes.


After processing, cans are cooled using chilled water. This creates vacuum pressure and seals the lid tightly to the can rim.

Labeling & Packaging

External can protectors are applied, cans are labeled, and packed into cartons or pallets for distribution.

With a combination of precision filling, sealing, and high heat processing, commercial canners safely preserve foods with long shelf life.

Unique Canning Methods

While traditional canning relies on heat processing, some unique canning methods use alternatives to sterilization. Here are a few examples:


Lowering the pH of canned goods inhibits bacterial growth. Pickled foods and flours keep using acid without heat processing.

Controlled Atmosphere

Oxygen is removed from the can and replaced entirely with an inert gas like nitrogen before sealing. No heat processing needed.

UV Radiation

Ultraviolet light can be used to sterilize cans internally before sealing as an alternative to high heat methods.

High Pressure Processing

Food is first sealed in containers then subjected to extremely high water pressure that kills microorganisms.


Ionizing radiation like gamma rays or electron beams eliminate bacteria without using conventional canning heat methods.

Continued innovation is allowing more canned foods to be shelf stabilized while maintaining fresh qualities. Canning technology keeps evolving!

Canning Improvements Over Time

While the basic process was invented centuries ago, canning technology and safety has improved over time:

Stronger Can Seals

Early soldered cans eventually transitioned to double-rolled seam cans that are perfectly sealed all the way around.

Advanced Processing Methods

Knowledge of time, temperature, and pressure needed to safely preserve foods has become more precise.

Sanitary Can Manufacturing

Automated filling and seaming with minimal human contact creates extremely sanitary can interiors.

Safer Raw Materials

Strict regulations, inspection, and product testing helps ensure safety of raw canned ingredients.

Better Transportation

Refrigerated trucks, optimized transit routes, and faster distribution keeps canned goods fresher.

Informative Labeling

Labels now communicate information on nutrition, allergens, storage, and safe preparation to consumers.

With so much progress in 200 years, who knows what innovations could shape the next 200 years of canning!


From small 5 ounce cans to gallon sized containers, different can sizes all serve unique purposes. Considering the intended use, weight, shelf life, and manufacturing needs helps determine the optimal can size for any given product. With a long history and impressive evolution, cans provide a safe, nutritious, and cost-effective way to make an expansive variety of foods conveniently shelf stable.

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