The Jerry Can

Simply put, a Jerry can is a container for fuel or water. Its design Originated in Germany in the 1930s as a need for efficient fuel distribution systems became urgent – the Germans had thousands of Jerry cans stockpiled by 1939 in anticipation of war.

As Germany moved through Europe and North Africa, so did their thousands of gasoline cans. These cans proved to be dependable and durable; soon, countries all over the world were adapting them to transport and store liquids, coining them “Jerry cans” because of their German origin.

The original containers had three handles, which allowed easy handling by one or two people. The handle design also allows for two empty cans to be carried in each hand. The sides of the can were marked with cross-like indentations that strengthened the can while allowing the contents to expand, as did an air pocket under the handles when the can was filled correctly. Rather than a screw cap, the containers used a cam lever release mechanism with a short spout secured with a snap closure and an air-pipe to the air pocket, which enabled smooth pouring. The interior was also lined with an impervious plastic, first developed for steel beer barrels that would allow the can to be used for either water or gasoline. The can was welded, and had a gasket for a leak-proof mouth.

By the 70s, the plastic Jerry hit the market. Steel Jerry cans weigh 4.5kg empty; a plastic Jerry can weighs 1.6kg, and is much cheaper to manufacture. While the military uses metal cans to this day, people all over the world now buy fuel or water for domestic use in plastic Jerry cans with many people in developing countries using them to transport and store their drinking water as a replacement to heavy clay pots and metal containers. Whilstmanynew container designs have emerged inspired by the original, nothing can top the strength and simplicity of the original rectangular X-marked Jerry can or usurp its classic status.

Materials: pressed steel

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