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Opening a Can Without a Can Opener: Methods, Tricks, Hacks
Maybe you’re on a camping trip without any kitchen tools. Maybe you’ve just had a “butterfingers” moment and broken a seal or tab.
Whatever your reasons for needing to DIY your dinner, here are just a few tips and tricks for opening a can without a can opener.
11 Ways: How Open a Can Without an Opener (Video)
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Here are some ways to open a can without a can opener.
- Chef’s Knife
- Concrete Slab (or another Flat Stone)
- Bare Hands
- Metal File
- Tin Snips
Here are more ways to open the can – with specific steps and videos.
How To Open A Can With A Bike Tool:
Or, quite frankly, any sharp, pointy object you might have on hand. Heads up: This might break your tool.Related Story
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If you’re cool with that (read: so hungry you don’t even care), stab the tin as hard as you can in the weaker areas around the rim until you have enough of an opening to get the goods inside out, says Jenny Tough, endurance adventurer.
Whatever you do, “do not use your hands to pull the lid off or to get the food inside—use anything other than that!” she stresses. After all, do you really want to risk a visit to the ER over some canned beans?
How to Open a Can With Basically Nothing
Pavement Getty 3/20/20 Credit: Simon McGill/Getty Images
Simon McGill/Getty Images
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.
- Place the can upside down on a rough rock or concrete. A smooth surface won’t do.
- 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.
- 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
Alternate Method: Chef’s Knife
If you need to get into the can a little more quickly, and/or are relatively secure in your knife skills, you can try opening the can with the heel of a chef’s knife (the blade nearest to the handle) using it like an old-fashioned can-opener. This is safer than using the point, which can slip (or even break), causing injury.
You’ll need to find a knife without a bolster that covers the heel, however. The bolster is the thick part that sits in front of the handle of some knives. Firmly grip the handle and position the back corner of the blade (the heel) perpendicular to the can at the seam. Push the corner of the blade downwards and perforate the lid of the can by digging in at an angle, more or less like an old-fashioned lever-type can-opener. Repeat this process around the rim of the can until you have weakened the lid enough to pry the can open.
Alternatively, if you have a pocket knife or a small paring knife, you can put the can on a flat, sturdy surface and try to puncture the can with the tip of the knife. Be careful! If the can or the knife are not properly controlled, the knife can easily slip. Keep puncturing holes evenly around the edge of the can, and the lid will eventually come off.
How To Open A Can With Pliers:
Using a flat-nose or needle-tip plier, grab the lip of the can and twist to break the seal little by little. Do this around the entire can until you’re able to grab under the edge and lift the top off.
Hine warns, however, that this may be a little tough to do, so you might have an easier time using the same technique as the scissors: placing the closed pliers down on the rim, hitting down to pierce the can, then twisting and pulling the piers, either open or closed, around the edge.
Voilà! You’re ready for a can-tastic meal.
Elizabeth Bacharach Elizabeth Bacharach is the Assistant Editor at Women’s Health where she writes and edits content about mental and physical health, food and nutrition, sexual health, and lifestyle trends across WomensHealthMag.com and the print magazine.This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io