Saturday, August 4, 2012

Variations of the Wild West

When people come by to see my can collection, I remind them that there are 2000+ different cans.  And then they proceed to point to my four Wild West cans and say, "Well those are the same."  And then they get a can education.

Sure, they are all Wild West Sarsaparilla (whatever that is), but the cans are different.

These first two cans are both straight steel.  Notice the sides of the body are straight all the way from the bottom to the top.  Also, both the bottom and top are separate pieces attached to the body.  That's how you can identify a straight steel can.  By the way, these two are different because one says "12 FL OZ" and the other "12 FL OZ - 354 mL".  Also, one is still sealed and one is open.

 This is an extruded steel can.  Notice how the bottom is rounded and made of the same piece of steel as the body.  Only the top is a separate piece of metal on this can.

There is a third type of steel can which I don't have a Wild West example of, but this Dad's root beer can volunteered to model.  It's called crimped steel.  It's top and bottom are separate pieces like the straight steel, but in this case the sides of the body aren't straight.  Notice how they are crimped inwards near the bottom and top?  

And then there's the aluminum can.  The bottom of aluminum cans is also molded from the same piece of metal as the body, only the top is a separate piece.  And aluminum cans usually have some kind of recycle symbol on them.

If there is no recycle symbol, extruded steel cans and older aluminum cans can sometimes be hard to differentiate.  So what's an easy way to tell which it is?  Use a magnet!  A magnet will stick to any steel can but won't stick to aluminum.

And now you've had a can education.


  1. Just the info I needed! Thanks!

  2. Hey, I have a 5th variation, or maybe a 4.5 version of your Wild West sarsaparilla. It is also in Aluminum with slightly different printing but mostly the bottom has no taper and has a sort of a concave "target" look to it. It is still full with the old pull tab. Dad was about to open it and drink it but offered me some first and I said WAIT!!! After looking at it I asked him how many he had and that is when he told me just one that he bought it at an Estate sale. I managed to save its life from an 86 year old Sarsaparilla drinker! lol