Open a can without a can opener

Surely one or the other reader already knows the situation. A can of food should be opened, but the existing can opener does not work or there is no opener at all. How you can still open such a can without a can opener using different techniques, we have summarized for you below.

Can openers quite often fail to work

There are situations in which a can needs to be opened, but there is no can opener available. Or the existing can opener no longer works. Especially with modern can openers, it is clear that cheap products often do not deliver what they promise.

Some cans can be opened completely without problems, suddenly, with the next can it no longer works. Either the cutting wheel or cutter can no longer be pressed into the can, or the can opener goes blank when turning. Then to leave the house again for a can opener is not necessarily the preferred option.

It also happens that the can opener was forgotten

The other typical situation is the picnic, an outdoor tour with a break or the first camping evening, when far away from any business the hunger was big and the can opener was forgotten. Although most readers now assume a conventional kitchen knife as the typical alternative method for opening a can without a can opener, there are other options besides.

Different options to open a can without a can opener

Because, of course, you don’t always have a kitchen knife at hand either. Therefore, below are the methods you can use to open a can of food without a can opener:

  • with an ordinary kitchen knife
  • with a combination pocket knife
  • with a smooth stone, on an asphalt floor or a paving stone without any other tool

1. opening a can with a kitchen knife

First of all, in any case, it should be noted in advance that it is essential to wear sturdy work gloves, for example, leather. Otherwise, the risk of injury is immense. Basically, you can use any household knife with a smooth edge. Thus, the knife should not have a serrated or wavy edge. However, if necessary, opening a tin can also works with a cutlery knife with a slight serration.

The knife is now pierced on the very outside of the lid surface, directly at the seam. Now there are two ways to proceed. You place the blade pointing towards you and carefully lever the pierced knife downwards. At the same time, you must always push the blade slightly outward toward the fold, otherwise it will run inward when cutting.

At the latest after the second or third cutting or levering down, you will see the slight protrusion inside the can at the cut seam. Here you can hold the knife slightly against it. However, since everything is relatively soft, really extremely careful approach is appropriate – even with safety glove!

In the second option according to this technique, you pierce the kitchen knife with the cutting edge away from you. So you cut the sheet from the bottom up. Again, at the same time you need to push the knife slightly outward toward the can seam, otherwise it will run inward as you cut.

At the same time, try to hold the back of the knife against the can seam. Again, never apply too much pressure. In other words, always make the shortest possible cuts. Experience has shown that this is more efficient and at the same time the risk of injury is considerably reduced.

2. opening a can with a combination pocket knife

The combination pocket knife has a small tool, which is usually about half as long as the actual knife (or the large knife in the case of two knives). There is also a rounded notch on the bottom that converges into a point at the base. This tool is already used to open a can by rocking it. However, this requires quite skillful and still remains a job that takes a long time felt and, moreover, exhausting.

Here, however, you can use a trick. Prick the pointed hook. Now, however, do not bob or lever this. Instead, you now push the hooked eye away from you forward through the sheet metal of the lid. With some spirited force, and with a reasonably good quality combination pocket knife, this cutting edge will run through the sheet metal almost like butter. Without a can opener, the can should be open in 10 to 15 seconds with this method. Again, it is imperative to use safe work gloves (leather).

3. open the can on a stone-like surface without using any other auxiliary surface.

Now, it may happen that you have no auxiliary tools at hand at all. But even then, you can open a can. However, there is another catch: Cans with liquid contents are not easy to open. But it works all the better with a solid content.

You need a rough stone surface. So a relatively smooth concrete block, a stone slab with a relatively smooth surface, a concrete or screed floor or a hard road surface. Now you can see that the can seam always protrudes a little.

Turn the side down and start “dragging” the can back and forth on the stone. The seam will continue to grind down this way. After a while, the seams will be gone enough that you can easily remove the lid as it is cut at the seams.

If it is a handy stone slab and someone can hold the can, you can also turn the can back over and sand it from the top at the first sign that the lid is now becoming permeable. Alternatively, you can now open the nearly ground through lid seams much easier with a knife if available.
This way, you can then still open cans that have liquids in them. However, you must be very careful that no abrasion of stone and metal can get into the contents. More tips on the general use of a can opener we have summarized here for you.

William C Arpin

William C Arpin

I like to test products and recommend the best ones, write reviews, travel and spend time with my family.

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