Maybe you’re sitting on a bunker full of these stinky little canned fish; or maybe you just have a can or two in the pantry. Believe it or not, sardines can be used for a variety of applications in a survival situation. Here’s 10 ways sardines can keep you alive.

1) Grease Lamp
To make a grease lamp from a can of sardines, you should start out with the kind of sardines that are packed in oil. Open the can, eat the fish and leave the oil in the can. Place a cotton string or a piece of jute in the oil with just one inch sticking up in the air for a wick. Light the greasy string with an open flame and you have a grease lamp. And if you’re not into fish-scented candles, just use an empty sardine can and some cooking oil.

2) Trap Bait
Raccoons and other omnivores love fishy smelling things, so use the sardine liquid or actual sardine pieces to bait your traps. That coon or bobcat will give you a beautiful pelt, and it could be a welcome change in menu if times are tough.
3) Shelter Smoker**
If you have a bug infested shack, shed or hut that you need to smoke out, place some red-hot coals in a large sardine can, crumble some dry rotten wood over the coals, and place the container in a fire-proof spot in the shelter. The can full of coals and punk wood will create tons of smoke, and should resolve your bug troubles, at least temporarily.

4) Mini Frying Pan
The largest sardine cans make a fine little frying pan for a one-person backpacking cook set. You could also boil water in it, but it would take a while to get any reasonable volume to drink.

5) Camp Stove
Pour some high proof alcohol in the sardine can, and light it up to use it as a camp stove. If you are short on moonshine, then coil up some cardboard strips in the can and drizzle melted wax over the strips. This becomes a “fire can,” which can be used for cooking, lighting, or emergency fire starting.

6) Trap Part
Maybe you have seen the ’80s survival video from Ron Hood, where he employs a sardine can as a foothold trap. If not, you’ll cut an “X” in the can, secure the can to a stake with a length of wire, and place the can over a hole. If something slender-footed yet heavy (like a large fox) steps on the “X” they’ll punch through and get stuck (for a little while).

7) Signal Mirror
A shiny can will pass for a signal mirror in a pinch, especially if you have a way to polish it, such as rubbing a little chocolate on the metal for a few hours with a piece of paper or a rag.

8) Emergency Pet Food
Cats and dogs could subsist for quite a while on sardines, if no other food were available.

9) Survival Kit
You’ve probably seen the sardine can survival kits that are commercially available. While the can is a good idea, the contents are usually sub-par. Fill an empty sardine can with good survival gear, and use a generous amount of duct tape to seal it up. Now you have a water resistant can, quality survival goodies, and duct tape!

10) Eat ’em!
And you can eat the fish, too. The global standard for canned sardines cites 21 species that may be classed as sardines. Whichever kind you end up with, a few crackers and hot sauce will work wonders to liven up these long dead herring cousins.

Do you have a different survival use for a can of sardines? Tell us about it by leaving a comment.