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% Tin.png
Name tin
Base price 5 zm
Nutrition (varies)
Turns to eat (varies)
Weight 10
Conduct (varies)

A tin is a special kind of comestible that will not dilute or rot, and may give valuable intrinsics, although they are usually too slow to be eaten in an emergency.


Tins can be made by applying a tinning kit to a corpse, as well as being randomly generated. Tins of spinach can be found, wished for, or created through polymorphing; They cannot be created with a tinning kit. Spinach will increase your strength attribute, unless it is cursed ("It contains some decaying green substance"), in which case your strength will decrease.

Tins containing the meat of genocided monsters will not be randomly generated. If you wish for such a tin, you will get an empty tin instead. Tins created before the species was genocided will still appear as "tin of foo", but will actually be empty when you open them. Furthermore, tins of unique monsters cannot be wished for.

Eating tins


When you attempt to eat a tin, you first try to open it.[1]

  • If you are polymorphed into a metallivore, you open it immediately. "You bite right into the metal tin".
  • Otherwise, if you are a monster with no limbs, or a very small monster, eating a tin is impossible. "You cannot handle the tin properly to open it."
  • Otherwise, if the tin is blessed, it takes 0-1 turns to open it (always 0 turns if you also wield a blessed tin opener). ("The tin is opened like magic!", if 0 turns, or "The tin seems easy to open." if 1 turn.)
  • Otherwise, the time depends on what you wield:
    • A tin opener opens it quickly depending on its BUC status: 0 turns if blessed, 0-1 turns if uncursed, 0-2 turns if cursed. ("You easily open the tin.")
    • A wielded crysknife, athame, or any kind of dagger will open it in 3 turns. ("Using (your weapon) you try to open the tin.")
    • A pick-axe or an axe (but not a battle-axe) will open it in 6 turns. ("Using (your weapon) you try to open the tin.")
    • If you are wielding none of the above and have slippery fingers, the tin slips from your fingers.
    • Otherwise, you will take between 10 and 10 + 500/(Str+Dex) turns to open it.[2] ("It is not so easy to open this tin.") If it takes 50 or more turns, you "give up your attempt to open the tin."[3] Because this can take so long, and because many tins end up containing less than 100 nutrition, you may not actually gain any net nutrition from eating tins if you cannot open them quickly. Don't eat tins if you are Weak, since this can put you into Fainting status.


Randomly generated cursed tins have 1/8 chance of being trapped ("KABOOM!! The tin was booby-trapped!") The explosion has the same effects as an exploding door, and it destroys the tin.

Determining the preparation method

Once you have opened the tin, its preparation method is determined (unless it is spinach, which doesn't have a preparation method). The possible preparation methods are "deep fried", "pickled", "soup made from", "pureed", "rotten", "homemade", "stir fried", "candied", "boiled", "dried", "szechuan", "french fried", "sauteed", "broiled", and "smoked". This determines the amount of nutrition the tin provides.

If you made the tin with a tinning kit, tins of lizard and lichen are always homemade, while blessed/uncursed/cursed tins of other monsters have a chance of 0, 1/7 and 1 of being rotten, otherwise they are homemade.[4]

For randomly generated tins[4]:

  • cursed tins of lizard and lichen are always homemade
  • other cursed tins are always rotten
  • blessed tins, and uncursed tins of lizard and lichen, are never rotten; they have a 2/15 chance of being homemade and a 1/15 chance of any other method
  • other uncursed tins have 1/15 chance of being any method except rotten or homemade, 6/105 chance of being homemade, and 8/105 chance of being rotten

Since the type of preparation is determined only after you open the tin, there is no way to know it in advance, and tins that stack may end up being of different styles.

Deciding whether to eat it

Once you have opened a tin, you will receive a message telling you what it smells like and be given the choice of eating it or discarding the contents. This identifies the contents of any tins that were in the same stack. (If you are hallucinating, the monster name will be random, except for cockatrice or chickatrice meat which "smells like chicken".[5] It is safest not to consume any unknown tins whilst hallucinating.)


If the tin is empty (because its monster type is genocided or extinct), it is discarded ("It turns out to be empty.")

Most non-spinach tins have low nutritional value (see below), but tins of pureed monster have nutritional value 500, which is more than half that of a food ration.

Eating a deep fried, french fried, or stir fried tin will give you slippery fingers and cause you to drop your weapon. It is therefore unwise to eat tins in a shop without first unwielding your weapon.

Rotten tins provide no nutrition points (eating them makes you neither more not less hungry)[6], and make you nauseous. Unless you cure the nausea, you vomit, losing 20 nutritional points (see vomiting for more information).

Eating the tin, after it is opened, takes one turn.

Corpses that convey intrinsics will have the same probability of conferring that intrinsic when they have been tinned. Tinning makes poisonous and rotten corpses safe, however, as your character picks out the good bits for the tin that (s)he can fit inside. It is popular to tin dragons, as you will still get the intrinsic, but without the enormous meal.


An unidentified tin will appear as a "tin". Once the contents are known, one of the following descriptions is adopted instead:

Appearance Notes
tin of foo meat foo is a fleshy monster
tin of foo foo is a monster suitable for vegetarians
tin of spinach spinach is suitable for vegans
empty tin suitable for those going without food


The nutrition of a tin varies depending on the way it was cooked. Below is a list of the possible variations of the contents of a tin.[7]

While the nutrition of rotten tin is technically -50, it doesn't mean that you lose 50 nutrition points when you eat it. Negative nutrition value of a tin means that it provides 0 points of nutrition and makes you nauseous, otherwise the value is ignored.[8]

Tin Nutrition Notes
Spinach, blessed 600[9] Increases strength[10]
Spinach, uncursed 401-600[11] Increases strength[10]
Spinach, cursed 201-600[12] Decreases strength[10]
Pureed 500
Candied 100
Sauteed 95
Stir fried 80 Causes slippery fingers
Broiled 80
Szechuan 70 In UnNetHack: 50% chance of a fortune cookie
Deep fried 60 Causes slippery fingers
Dried 55
Homemade 50
Boiled 50
Smoked 50
Pickled 40
French fried 40 Causes slippery fingers
Soup 20
Empty 0
Rotten -50 Causes nausea

Tins of nurse meat

Tins of nurse meat are a potent but complicated resource, and deserve special consideration. Like the corpse of a nurse, a tin of nurse meat will restore you to full hit points. This makes nurses an attractive target for tinning when you encounter them. Tins of nurse meat have some advantages and some disadvantages relative to potions of full healing:

  • First and foremost, consumption of nurse meat is cannibalism for human characters! Fortunately, tinning the corpse does not count as cannibalism--only eating the tin does. So it is possible to tin nurses against a future need, when you might prefer the penalties of cannibalism to death.
  • Unlike potions, tins never explode or dilute, so they are always safe to carry in main inventory, even in such hostile environments as the Plane of Fire.
  • On the other hand, even a blessed tin will take two turns to heal you (one to open and one to consume), which is slower than quaffing a potion in main inventory and no faster than retrieving a potion from a bag before quaffing. A (non-cursed) homemade tin will always provide 50 nutrition, and can cause you to choke to death if you are satiated; this is never the case with a potion.
  • A full healing potion can only restore a maximum of 400 hit points; nurse meat always restores you to your maximum, however high that is. However, a non-cursed full healing potion can also raise your maximum HP if your current HP is maxed out by it, which the tin won't do.
  • You may want to keep the nurse alive for nurse dancing to raise your maximum HP instead, which you presumably are going to do until the nurse disappears.


Tins from Hack 1.0 through NetHack 2.3e behave quite differently from the modern form. There is no tinning kit in these versions, and consequently there are no tinned monsters. Randomly generated tins can produce the following results:[13][14]

Message Nutrition
It contains spinach - this makes you feel like Popeye! 600, increases strength
It contains salmon - not bad! 60, causes slippery fingers
It contains first quality peaches - what a surprise! 40
It contains apple juice - perhaps not what you hoped for. 20
It contains some nondescript substance, tasting awfully. 500
It contains rotten meat. You vomit. -50
It turns out to be empty. 0

Tins in their modern form first appear in NetHack 3.0.0. That version has only spinach, deep fried, pickled, soup, pureed, and rotten tins;[15] a tinning kit will produce one of these (except spinach of course), rather than the homemade tin.

NetHack 3.1.0 adds the homemade tin,[16] and modifies the tinning kit to produce this type only.[17]

NetHack 3.3.0 adds the complete list of tins given above.[18]


UnNetHack includes the Free Fortune Cookie Patch; there is a 50% chance for a szechuan tin to contain a free fortune cookie.


SLASH'EM once again modernizes the tins: They no longer tell exactly what the tin contains, unless the player has already eaten the particular meat. Instead, they will only give some general information ("It smells kind of like a dog or other canine."), or not even that ("The smell is unfamiliar."). This makes eating tins much more risky, as the players could accidentally commit cannibalism or eat cockatrice meat, and one may easily lose vegetarian conduct without knowing. Furthermore, tins can be generated with the same traps as other traditional containers.

Minor bug

You can find tins of monsters that do not leave corpses, such as clay golems, elementals, mummies and zombies. However, you cannot wish for such tins, even in wizard mode. It is bug number 667.

If you try to eat them, the game will probably not crash, and you can get the effects of the corresponding corpses. For example you can gain a level from a wraith tin. Air elemental and yellow light tins will be empty. It seems that the tinning process was applied, so you will probably not get food poisoning from a mummy/zombie tin.

Encyclopedia entry

"You know salmon, Sarge," said Nobby.
"It is a fish of which I am aware, yes."
"You know they sell kind of slices of it in tins..."
"So I am given to understand, yes."
"Weell...how come all the tins are the same size? Salmon
gets thinner at both ends."
"Interesting point, Nobby. I think-"

[ Soul Music, by Terry Pratchett ]