Everyday Meals

How to (Safely) Open a Can Without a Can Opener

Can Getty 3/20/20

Everyday conveniences (like access to a can opener) simplify life in ways you may not even notice. So when you don’t have them, things seem pretty grim pretty fast. But don’t lose hope just yet!

Whether you forgot to pack a can opener for a camping trip or it’s lost deep inside your junk drawer, here’s how to open your can of veggies using other tools: 

Cooking dinner shouldn't be complicated

A Note on Safety

A metal can’s lid is very, very sharp—no matter how you got it open. While it may be tempting to try to pry the lid open with a sharp knife, that should probably be your last resort. Not only are you introducing another dangerously sharp object into the mix, you’re also going to ruin your knife. 

The two methods we recommend involve seemingly harmless tools, but it’s still important to proceed with caution. Pay attention to what you’re doing and avoid touching any sharp edges. Once the lid has been safely removed, handle it with a towel to protect your fingers and palm.

Related: You’re (Probably) Ruining Your Kitchen Knives—Here’s How to Stop 

How to Open a Can With a Spoon

Spoon Getty 3/20/20

According to our friends at Southern Living, using a metal spoon is the best and safest way to open a can without a can opener. Here’s how to do it:

  1. On a stable surface (like your kitchen counter), use one hand to hold the can in place and the other to hold the spoon. 
  2. Place the tip of the spoon on the inner edge of the top of the can. The outside of the spoon’s bowl should be pressing against the raised, crimped edge of the lid. The inside of the spoon’s bowl should be facing inward. 
  3. Firmly rub the spoon back and forth on the lip of the can. Focus on the same area. After a while, the friction from this motion will thin the metal. Eventually, the spoon will penetrate the lid in the targeted area. 
  4. Repeat this process all the way around the rim of the lid. 
  5. The lid should now be loose. Dig the spoon under the lid and use an upward motion to pry the lid open. 

How to Open a Can With Basically Nothing

Pavement Getty 3/20/20

No spoon? No problem! For this method, all you’ll need is a rock or concrete and something to pry the lid open—maybe a pocket knife, if you have one.

  1. Place the can upside down on a rough rock or concrete. A smooth surface won’t do. 
  2. Rub the can back and forth in a scrubbing motion. The friction will eventually thin the metal. Stop when you see moisture on the surface or on the lid. If you keep going, the can will wear completely down and you’ll spill your food. 
  3. Using a pocket knife (or anything hard and thin enough to fit between the now-loose lid and the edge of the can), pry the lid open 

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