Name tin
Cost 5 zm
Nutrition (varies)
Turns to eat (varies)
Weight 10
Conduct (varies)

A tin is a special kind of comestible that 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. (See spinach for the formula.)

When you attempt to eat a tin, if you are polymorphed into a metallivore you will "bite right into the metal tin" and if you are a monster with no limbs you will receive the message "You cannot handle the tin properly to open it." Otherwise, you will attempt to open the tin. The time taken for this depends on whether the tin is blessed, and on your currently wielded weapon. A blessed tin will always open in one turn, and a wielded tin opener will also allow you to open any tin in one turn. A wielded crysknife, athame, or any kind of dagger will open a tin in three turns. With a pick-axe or an axe (but not a battle-axe) the tin will open in six turns. Without any tools, a tin will take between 10 and 10 + 500/(Str+Dex) turns to open.[1]

Cursed tins are difficult to open and have a small chance of being trapped. Opening a trapped tin causes an explosion and can stun you.

Once you have opened a tin, you will receive a message telling you what it contains (and identify the contents of any tins that were in the same stack), and will be given the choice of eating it or discarding the contents. (If you are hallucinating, this message will be inaccurate. It is safest not to consume any unknown tins whilst hallucinating, lest you accidentally consume cockatrice meat.) If you choose to eat it, you will receive another message, of the form "You consume (food preparation method) (monster)" e.g. "You consume boiled sewer rat." Eating the contents of an opened tin takes one more turn.

The possible food preparation methods are "deep fried", "pickled", "soup made from", "pureed", "rotten", "homemade", "stir fried", "candied", "boiled", "dried", "szechuan", "french fried", "sauteed", "broiled", and "smoked"; the type of preparation is set when the tin is eaten, so tins that stack (i.e., of the same monster) may be in different styles. Most non-spinach tins have low nutritional value (see below), but tins of pureed monster have nutritional value 500, more than half that of a food ration. Rotten tins have negative nutritional value and will cause you to vomit. Cursed tins are always rotten, and tins made by you with a tinning kit are always homemade or rotten.

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

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.

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 upon opening "It turns out to be empty".

Appearance Edit

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

tin of foo meat
if foo is a fleshy monster
tin of foo
if foo is a monster suitable for vegetarians
tin of spinach
if the tin contains spinach instead of a monster (suitable for vegans)
empty tin
if the tin is empty (suitable for those going without food)

Nutrition Edit

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.[2]

Tin Nutrition Notes
Spinach 600 Increases strength
Pureed 500
Candied 100
Sauteed 95
Stir fried 80
Broiled 80
Szechuan 70
Deep fried 60 Causes slippery fingers
Dried 55
Homemade 50
Boiled 50
Smoked 50
Pickled 40
French fried 40 Causes slippery fingers
Soup 20
Rotten -50 Causes nausea

Tins of Nurse Meat Edit

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 are always safe to carry in main inventory, even in such hostile envrionments 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.
  • Finally, 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.


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[3][4]:

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[5]; 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[6], and modifies the tinning kit to produce this type only[7].

NetHack 3.3.0 adds the complete list of tins given above.[8]

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 monks may easily lose their vegetarian conduct without knowing. Furthermore, tins can be generated with the same traps as other traditional containers.

Encyclopaedia entryEdit

"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."
" come all the tins are the same size? Salmon
gets thinner at both ends."
"Interesting point, Nobby. I think-"

[ Soul Music, by Terry Pratchett ]


  1. Eat.c, line 1144
  2. NetHack 3.4.3 eat.c, line 132
  3. NetHack 2.3e eat.c, line 40
  4. NetHack 2.3e eat.c, line 70
  5. NetHack 3.0.0 eat.c, line 36
  6. NetHack 3.1.0 eat.c, line 118
  7. NetHack 3.1.0 apply.c, line 1771
  8. NetHack 3.3.0 eat.c, line 128
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