Whether you’re starting up a business or just pursuing a new hobby, creating a brand new, unique product for other people to enjoy is an exciting and rewarding experience. At Oktober Can Seamers, we love creating products that help our clients achieve their goals, and a well-made canning machine is essential to brewers, coffee roasters, and other specialty beverage producers. It ensures that the high-precision double seam is created accurately and consistently.
Let’s take a look at how a canning machine works and show how you can easily get started in the canning business.
What Is a Canning Machine?
A canning machine, also known as a can seamer is used to seal a lid onto a can after it has been filled. The sealing process, also called the double seam process, is typically the final step in preparing the product for sale. There is a wide range of canning machines available, from industrial production canning lines used by major food and drink companies to more affordable machines for smaller businesses and hobbyists.
How Does a Canning Machine Work?
In order to understand how a canning machine works, you need to first understand how the top of a can and its lid are shaped. Around the top edges of a can is the flange, which has the start of a fold that is pointed outward from the can. The lid has a curl on its edges, which fits over the top of the fold.
Once the can has been filled and the lid has been put on top, it’s placed onto the base of the seamer. Then the can is pressed firmly to the top head, or chuck, of the machine, and the chuck starts spinning the can.
As the can is spinning, two rollers come out and press against the top of the can, one after the other. The first roller folds the curl of the lid underneath the flange of the can, hooking them together and starting the seal. The second roller presses against the interlocking hook, which “irons” it out and completes the seal.
The process sounds more complicated than it looks, and is completed in a matter of seconds.
Canning Machines from Oktober
At Oktober, we create high-quality, simple-to-use canning machines that can be used for beer, coffee, or other beverage cans. They are affordable for breweries, specialty beverage producers, coffee roasters, and hobbyists, and they need only a small amount of training to use.
The Model 8 Can Seamer
Our latest and greatest canning machine, the Model 8, seams cans automatically with the push of a button. It comes in a range of models that are able to seam different sizes of cans, from tiny 100 ml beverage cans all the way up to 508 and 700 height coffee cans. It also supports 12, 16, 19.2, 24, and 32 oz cans, as well as 8 and 12 oz sleek cans, and is available in any custom color of your choosing.
Like all of our canning machines, the Model 8 is designed to be simple and easy to use. It comes factory calibrated and ready to go straight out of the box. Just plug it into a standard GFCI outlet and push the blue button to turn it on. Then place the can into the machine, close the splash guard door, and push the green button. The Model 8 will finish in a few seconds, and you’re free to take out the can and move on to the next one.
The Model 7 Can Seamer
Another one of our popular canning machines for breweries, the Model 7, is a semi-manual seamer that is still easy and straightforward to use. Once the can has been placed in the machine and the splash guard has been closed, pull the right handle in and out, then move the left handle in and out, and you’re done. It is robustly designed for heavier day-to-day use, and perfect for a customer-facing high traffic environment.
Like the Model 8, this canning machine is available in a wide range of sizes and custom colors. Different variations will seam 8, 12, 16, 19.2, 24, and 32 oz cans. It also supports 250, 330, 500 ml, and 1 L cans, or 508 and 700 height coffee cans.
The SL1 Homebrewer
One of our canning machines for hobbyists, the SL1 Homebrewer, is designed for lighter duty when compared to the professional models. The main difference when compared to the Model 7 is the SL1 has one handle that has both rollers attached, designed for lighter occasional use. To operate the SL1 Homebrewer, move the handle right to engage the first roller against the can and to the left to engage the second roller. The SL1 is perfect for garage or basement homebrew operations, and has a splash guard available for purchase if desired. It can be ordered and adapted for 12/16oz, 8/12oz sleek, or 330/500ml cans.
The BenchMK Drill-Powered Can Seamer
The BenchMK is our most affordable can seamer and is also designed for lighter, homebrewing use. Built standard with adapters for 12-oz and 16-oz cans, and can be adapted for 8/12oz sleek, or 330/500ml cans. It requires a handheld power drill/driver to use (drill not included in purchase).
What Canning Equipment Do You Need?
We’ve designed our canning machines from the ground up so that you won’t need specialized tools or training to operate them.
Our can seamers are factory calibrated and ready to start using right out of the box. For the Model 7, SL1, and BenchMK, you’ll just need to install the handle(s), which thread into the canning machine like a bolt.
All of our canning machines can be adjusted with a few simple tools. All models can be adapted for multiple sizes of cans, which can be done by swapping out a few components.
Over time, it’s a good idea to perform seam inspections to ensure that your canning machine is working at its best. In order to do so, you’ll need a tear-down tool, nippers, and calipers—all of which are available through Oktober Can Seamers. We also recommend having some grease on hand to re-lubricate the base shaft and bearings after cleaning.
Tips for Canning Beer
We love welcoming new businesses and hobbyists to the industry, and we’ve put together a collection of resources to help you get started filling and canning.
One of the key aspects of canning any beverage is to keep it cold, as in 33ºF cold. We also recommend gently spraying a bit of CO2 into the can first to push out the oxygen. This minimizes outside oxygen from contacting the beer and helps the beer stay fresh longer.
It’s good practice to wipe down your canning machine at least once a day with water and a bit of dish soap or sanitizer. You should also take the base shaft out of the can seamer and clean it on a regular basis, or a sticky residue will start to build up on them. Bearings can be similarly wiped down and regreased.
How Fast Is Your Beer Canning Machine?
Pretty fast! All our seamers can complete a seam in seconds. Seasoned operators can seal 8–12 cans a minute, or an entire case in less than two and a half minutes. Many of our clients seam around 5–10,000 cans per month—though one of our clients reported completing 108,000 cans in a single month!
It takes a lot less time to seam a can than it does to fill it, so you’ll need a filler that can fill multiple cans (or multiple people helping) to keep up.
Options for Canning Coffee
While canning beer is the most popular use for our canning machines, we also offer seamers that are ideal for cold brew coffee as well as whole or ground roast beans. Both the Model 7 and Model 8 seamers have versions that are made for coffee cans. They are both able to can 508 and 700 height cans, and custom adapters for 400 and 208 height cans are also available. 508 height cans can fit 10–13 oz of beans, while the 700 height fits 12–16 oz.