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How to open a can with and without a can opener

Struggling to get into those canned goods? Learn how to open a tin with, and without, a handy can opener.


can of chopped tomatoes

Whether you’re on holiday and you’ve forgotten yours or it’s broken right as you needed to use it, not having a can opener is always frustrating. Luckily, there are ways you can get around the problem, and we’ve got all the tips you need for how to open a can with or without a can opener.

When learning how to open a can with a knife, always keep the can on a steady surface and use a knife with a handle that you can grip properly to avoid any accidents.

First ... how to use a can opener

The first problem you can have when opening a tin is not knowing how to use a can opener. For a regular, manual tin opener, try these steps:

  1. Separate the two handles like you would a pair of scissors.

  2. Place the serrated blade edge onto the rim of the can, making sure it grips firmly.

  3. Close the blades to secure it.

  4. Turn the gear on the side of the can opener. The serrated blade will begin to move and cut the top, separating it from the rest of the can.

  5. Keep turning the blade until the opener has completed a full circle and the lid can be removed. 

  6. Be careful not to cut yourself on any sharp edges left on the can!

Now ... how to open a can without an opener

Of course, you don’t always have all your kitchen tools with you so learning how to use a tin opener won't always help you. Try one of these methods to learn how to open a tin without a can opener when you're caught short:

  • Use a spoon. When it comes to learning how to open a can without an opener, the spoon method is arguably the most popular. Simply apply pressure to the top of the tin and rub the spoon back and forth until it creates a hole. Then, put the spoon into the hole and move it sideways, tearing a hole in the lid.

  • Find a rough surface. If you’re out camping and have no tools, you can use concrete or a large rock to sand down the ridge of the tin until it separates from the rest of the can. Rotate the can as you rub it to wear the edge down evenly.

  • A sharp knife. Remember to be very careful when learning how to open a tin can with a knife! Put the tip of the knife against the lid of the tin. Hold the knife straight, not at an angle, with your hand towards the tip of the handle. Lightly smack the top of that hand with your other hand to gently force the knife into the tin until it creates a hole. Repeat around the edge of the can until it’s loose enough to pry off.

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The next time you misplace your can opener you won’t have to worry! Learn how to open a tight jar too so that you’re never stuck when it’s time to cook.

Originally published