How To Open a Can Without a Can Opener
How to Open a Can Without a Can Opener
Are you stuck without a can opener? No problem: can lids are made with a thin piece of metal that isn't difficult to break through. You can use a spoon, a chef's knife, a pocket knife or a rock to break through the lid without contaminating the food inside. After just a few minutes of effort you'll be able to access the tasty contents of your can.
Using a Pocket or Kitchen Knife
Place the can on a stable surface.A table at hip height is ideal. Stand over the can so you can access it easily.
Position the tip of the knife against the inner edge of the lid.Hold the knife so that is vertical, rather than at an angle. Grip the handle such that your fingers won't be in the way of the blade if it slips. The back of your hand should be facing up.
- This method is more effective than attempting to saw the lid off using the blade of your knife. That will ruin your knife and potentially leave metal shavings in your food.
- Make sure the knife is completely extended and locked into place, so it won't slip.
- This method can also be done with a chisel or another sturdy, thin object similar to a pocket knife.
Lightly smack the back of your hand.Use your second hand to lightly smack the back of the hand that's gripping the knife handle. This gentle smacking motion will cause the tip of the knife to puncture the lid of the can.
- Do not smack too hard. You don't want to lose control of the knife.
- Smack with your hand open, and connect with your palm. This will help you maintain control.
Scoot the knife over and make a new hole.Position the tip of the knife a few centimeters over and repeat the technique to puncture the can again.
Continue until you've punctured holes around the edge of the can.Circle the entire lid, as you would with a can opener. The lid should now be loose.
Pry off the lid.Slip the tip of the knife into one of the holes. Use it to pry the lid off. Gently pull the lid from the can.
- If necessary, use a smaller knife to saw through remaining connected parts of the lid.
- Cover your hand with a towel or your sleeve before prying off the lid. This will protect your hand from getting scratched by the lid.
Method 1 Quiz
What should you use to smack the hand holding the knife when opening a can?
Using a Spoon
Place the can on a stable surface.Use one hand to hold it firmly in place while you work the spoon with your other hand.
Position the tip of a spoon against the inner edge of the lid.The lid of the can will have a small, raised lip that has been crimped to seal the can closed. You want to position the spoon in a spot along the inside of this lip.
- Hold the spoon so that the inside of its bowl is facing the lid of the can.
- You need a metal spoon for this method. Any other material won't work.
Rub the tip of the spoon back and forth.Work it over the same small area right where the edge of the lid is crimped. The friction from rubbing the spoon back and forth will begin to thin the can lid. Keep going until you have rubbed through the lid.
Scoot the spoon over and keep rubbing.Rub the spot next to the first area you rubbed. Keep going until you have rubbed through the lid. The hole you have made in the lid is now slightly bigger.
Continue around the edge of the lid.Keep scooting the spoon over and rubbing through the lid until you have circled the entire can lid. The lid should now be loose. Don't tip it upside down, or your food will spill out.
Pry open the lid.Dig the spoon under the edge of the lid. Pry the lid upward until it pops out of place. Carefully lift it away to reveal the food inside.
- If you find it difficult to pry off the lid with the spoon, try using a knife instead. You can use the knife to saw through any small parts of the lid that remain connected to the can.
- The lid will be sharp, so be careful not to cut your finger on its edge when you pry it off. Use your sleeve or a towel to protect yourself if necessary.
Method 2 Quiz
How should you hold the spoon when attempting to open a can?
Using a Chef's Knife
Position the can on a stable surface.A table as high as your hips is ideal. Do not place the can on your lap or in between your legs. The knife could slip and injure you.
Hold the knife where the handle meets the blade.Grip the top of the knife with your palm directly over the joining place. Your fingers should rest against the side of the handle, safely away from the sharp edge of the blade.
- Make sure you have a firm grip. This method can be dangerous if your hand or the knife is slippery.
- Do not use this method with a knife smaller than a chef's knife. A chef's knife is a large, heavy knife that weighs more than a pruning or steak knife. You need the relatively heavy weight of the blade to effectively puncture the lid of the can.
Position the heel of the knife against the inner edge of the lid.The heel of the knife is the place where the blade is widest. It's at the opposite end of the blade from the tip. Place it up against the raised lip at the edge of the can's lid.
- The heel should be centered right under the place where your palm is gripping the knife.
- Make sure it is firmly positioned against the edge of the lid, so it won't slip.
Press the heel of the knife into the can.Press down firmly so that it punctures the can, creating a small hole. If you have trouble puncturing the can, try standing up and leaning over it. Hold the knife in place with one hand. Place the other hand on top. Apply steady pressure with both hands and push down until the can is punctured.
- Do not strike the can to puncture it. The knife may slip and injure you. Instead, apply slow, steady pressure until the knife breaks through the can.
- Don't be tempted to use the sharp tip of the knife to puncture the can. The heel is more stable and less likely to slip. Also, if you use the tip you'll ruin the edge on your blade.
Scoot the knife over and make a new hole.Move it a few centimeters along the edge of the lid. Use the same technique to create another hole right next to the first one.
Continue until you've punctured holes around the edge of the can.Circle the entire lid, just as you would with a can opener. The lid should now be loose.
Pry open the lid.Insert the tip of the knife into one of the holes. Push up to pry off the lid. Be careful to point the edge of the blade away from your body so that it won't hurt you if it slips. Remove and discard the lid.
- If necessary, use a smaller knife to saw through remaining connected parts of the lid.
- Consider covering your hand with a towel or your sleeve before prying off the lid. This will protect your hand from getting scratched by the sharp lid.
Method 3 Quiz
How should you apply pressure on the can with a chef's knife?
Using a Rock or Concrete
Find a flat rock or a piece of concrete.Look for one with a rough surface. A smooth rock won't create enough friction to puncture the lid of the can.
Position the can upside down against the rock.Positioning it upside down will allow you to break the seal, which is located on the top of the can.
Rub the can back and forth over the rock.Use a scrubbing motion to create friction between the rock and the can. Keep going until you see moisture appear on the rock or on the lid of the can.
- Turn the can over to check it every so often. You want to stop as soon as you see moisture. This means the lid is thin enough to break through.
- Don't rub so hard that you rub right through the can lid. Your food will spill all over the rock.
Use a pocket knife to pry open the lid.The seal should be thin enough to allow you to easily slide the blade into the can near the edge of the lid. Push up with the knife to gently pry off the lid. Finish pulling off the lid, then discard it.
- If you don't have a pocket knife, try using a spoon, a butter knife or another tool.
- Or find a rock you can use to knock the lid of the can inward. This isn't ideal, since you may contaminate your food with small bits of rock or dirt.
- When you pull off the lid, cover your hand with your sleeve or a towel so you won't cut yourself.
Method 4 Quiz
Why should you position the can upside down when rubbing it on a rock?
QuestionWhat if I don't have any of the items on hand or I have forgotten them?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerSee if you can find a rock outside and use that.Thanks!
QuestionCould I use scissors?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou can use any bladed object with enough of a point to pierce the can - assuming it is made of a material harder than the can material). The advantage of the concrete or rough rock method is that it will not damage the edge of your blade.Thanks!
QuestionIf I have a pocketknife to pry the can after using a rock, shouldn't I just use the pocketknife?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThanks!
QuestionWhy would I need a rock if I have a pocket knife?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThat's just another technique/way to open it if you don't have a pocket knife handy. There are four methods listed. Pick the one that best fits your situation.Thanks!
QuestionAre there any other easier ways to open a can?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYour best bet is to just pack a can opener if you're going camping, etc. There is no way to quickly and easily open a can without one.Thanks!
QuestionCan I open a can with just my hands?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt is not recommended, because it could be very dangerous.Thanks!
QuestionHow hard should I rub the can on the rock?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTry to rub it so there is enough force to open it, but not so much that it affects the contents inside. It will just take some practice to find the right amount of pressure.Thanks!
Can I use another can to open a can, simultaneously opening 2 cans at once?
How do I get something thick to come out of the can?
To open a can with a kitchen knife, set the can on a table and hold the knife vertically in one hand, with the tip on the inner edge of the lid. Lightly smack the back of your hand to puncture the lid. Move the knife over a few centimeters and puncture it again. Continue puncturing around the entire lid, then simply pry it off with the tip of your knife.
- Don't try to saw off the lid with a bread knife. You'll end up with metal shavings in your food.
- Any method that doesn't involve a proper can opener risks leaving metal slivers or filings in the food contents of the can. Be very careful to avoid this or to remove any slivers that you see. Working under good light will help you to catch any glints of metal shavings.
- Food from cans that are burst or punctured prior to you trying to open them should never be eaten, as the food will have spoiled and likely contains bad bacteria.
- None of these methods is ideal and each has some risk of self-injury. These methods are not suitable for children under any circumstances. Use appropriate precaution and take your time when trying to open a can without a proper opener.
Things You'll Need
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Video: How to open food cans without a can opener!
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