Does anybody have any solutions/suggestions for removing a paper label, whole and undamaged from a metal can, a canned good? The can can be either opened and empty, or unopened and full.

About the only thing I can think of is heat to try to soften, if possible, the glue. (What is that adhesive, anyway?) I think any chemical would be out of the question, unless it's fairly "volatile" or evaporative, like acetone/nail polish remover. Is there something I may be missing?

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3 Answers 3


Soaking the can and label in water to dissolve the glue will make the paper disintegrate.

So perhaps the best you can do is

  • Find the ends of the paper, it is glued only where they overlap.

  • Insert a small sharp knife between label and can next to the glue seam.

  • (The sharp side of the blade should be towards the glued overlap).

  • Carefully slice the label along the glued edge towards the other end of the can.

  • Unroll the label from the can.

  • Cut along the other edge of the glue with a knife or scissors,

  • or Gently tear that edge of the paper away fron the can.

  • Finally trim both ends of the label with scissors.


If the can is empty, fill the empty can carefully with boiling water and wait a few moments. The hot water will melt the glue efficiently.

Continue with the first three instructions provided by Weather Vane.

Then, unroll the label from the can. (The glue will be soft enough to pull the label away from the can and itself. No trimming necessary.)

Now, the issue is how to remove the glue residue from the back and ends of the label which is a different question (and impossible given my experience.)

Good luck.


Myself, I use a sharp knife blade to quickly cut down the height of the label, at a suitable spot away from the glued area. Then I grasp both fresh-cut ends of the label fully and I pull quickly away from the can. The glue always just pop off from the can, leaving a one-piece label with the untouched glue joint somewhere in the middle. After you remove the label, place a strip of clear shipping tape over the remaining glue, or over the whole back of the label.

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