Ways to Open a Can Without a Can Opener

Need to open a can without a can opener? Try these handy methods that incorporate common tools around your home, plus a little elbow grease.

Picture this: You’re in the middle of making dinner and go to open a can of something you absolutely need for the recipe. Suddenly, your can opener breaks. Now you’re in a pickle — how can you open a can without a can opener?

Well, we wondered about that, too. Turns out, several kitchen hacks exist to help you manage. These hacks will also help if you’re out camping and forget to bring a can opener.

Remember: Safety first

Important safety note: Children should not try these methods, and adults should only attempt them with plenty of caution. Metal cans can develop sharp edges when you try to pry them open, and you could injure yourself if you aren’t careful. Also, after you open the can, check your food for small metal scraps just in case.

Method 1: Use a Metal Spoon

According to Dorothea Hudson, a kitchen safety expert with US Insurance Agents, all you need is a metal spoon and some determination. It’s definitely a handy kitchen shortcut to know. Here are her steps:

  • Step 1: Set the can on the counter.
  • Step 2: With your sturdy metal spoon picked out, grip the bowl of the spoon — not the handle.
  • Step 3: Firmly and methodically, rub the edge of the spoon back and forth along the can edge. Be vigorous.
  • Step 4: Keep rubbing until the metal thins and, in turn, creates a small hole.
  • Step 5: Press the spoon into the hole.
  • Step 6: Pry the top to open more by pulling up with the spoon around the edges of the can.
  • Step 7: Continue this prying around the perimeter until the top can be fully peeled back.

Method 2: Use a Pair of Pliers

Ronald Smith with eatdrinkbinge.com suggests another method. For this one, you’ll need pliers. Here’s what to do:

  • Step 1: Grab the can firmly between your thumb and forefinger.
  • Step 2: Pinch the pliers along the edge of the can.
  • Step 3: With the pliers, make one full circle around the top of the can. Tightening your grip on the pliers as you make your way around the can decreases the chances of injury.
  • Step 4: When you get one-quarter of the way around the can, give the top a good pull.

Method 3: Use a Rock

If you’re camping and realize you forgot to pack the can opener, don’t worry. Ted Mosby, founder of CamperAdvise, says you can use whatever Mother Nature left around for you.

  • Step 1: Place the can on concrete or a rough rock, upside down.
  • Step 2: In a scrubbing motion, rub the can back and forth. Friction will eventually eat away at the metal.
  • Step 3: Stop when you see moisture on the surface or lid. If you continue, the can will completely wear out and the food will spill.
  • Step 4: Pry the can open with a pocket knife or something else hard and thin enough to fit between the lid and edge of the can.

Need a Can Opener?

If you’re without a can opener at the moment, or you have an older one, consider getting a new one to save yourself the hassle outlined above. Future you will be so appreciative!

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Originally Published on Reader's Digest