It’s always a good and fun idea to recycle when you can, especially when the process involves firing up a smelter and melting a couple of hundred aluminum cans.

TheGrowingStack is a YouTube channel whose goal is to melt and cast the largest pile of metal imaginable. While some pieces are turned into fine metalworks, others are just hunks of scrap waiting to be turned into something beautiful.

So just how do you go about smelting 517 aluminum soda cans?

smelting aluminum cans

There’s actually just very little to it. The only problem is how time-consuming the process is. After painstakingly crushing and counting all the cans, you can fire up the smelter.

You notice how a bit of slag is melted before adding the aluminum cans. This is to line the smelting pot and prevent it from wearing down over too much use. Once the slag has liquidized and lined the inside of the pot, let the melting of the cans begin!

smelting aluminum cans

Since there isn’t enough space in this tiny smelter to melt 517 aluminum cans in one go, a number of cans are pressed and smelted before adding more. Whenever the smelting pot gets full, the excess impurities are removed. The pure aluminum then gets poured into cast-iron molds where they harden into ingots.

smelting aluminum cans

Pop the ingots out, dump some more aluminum cans into the smelter, pour the pure aluminum out, rinse, and repeat. Thanks to the impurities in the aluminum cans, the smelting pot gets constantly lined with slag which prevents it from wearing down after being heated so many times. After what feels like an eternity, the last of the cans are melted down and turned into the final aluminum ingots.

smelting aluminum cans

What’s amazing is how all the ingots are still very hot even after they’ve had time to cool in the open air. This is evidenced by how easily they melt through chunks of ice like they were nothing.

smelting aluminum cans

Once the ingots have cooled down, it’s time for the inevitable weigh-in. In smelting 517 aluminum soda cans, you get *drum roll*… 10.75 pounds (which is also 4,874 grams) of pure aluminum in 15 ingots! Well, not a bad haul for 517 cans; plus you can sell the ingots off for a hefty sum for all your hard work. But seeing as this is TheGrowingStack, a single ingot is polished and expertly shaped before storing the whole pile with the rest of the channel’s metalworks.

To see how the other metal pieces in TheGrowingStack’s growing stack are made, check out the other videos on their YouTube channel.


Carlos wrestles gators, and by gators, we mean words. He also loves good design, good books, and good coffee.