You probably don't give much thought to your can opener, until a day comes along when you can't find it. Then, suddenly, you appreciate how handy it is. How ingenious with its gears and wheels. A marvel of engineering! You may even feel bad you took can openers for granted for so long. Don't despair. All is not lost. There are techniques for opening a can without a can opener.

Maybe you just moved and your can opener is still packed away in a box. Or maybe you're camping and it's the one thing you forgot to pack (just please tell us you remembered the fixings for S'mores). There's no need to survey the area and wonder what else can work as a can opener. We've taken the guesswork out of the equation and rounded up the best alternatives. Read on to learn three techniques for opening a can without a can opener so you can finally get on with your dinner.

Cans of Campbell's Tomato Soup.

1. How To Open A Can With A Spoon

It's possible to open a can without a can opener using nothing but a spoon, but you'll have to give it some extreme muscle, as demonstrated below by Dave Hax. This is not a hack for the weak-limbed. This technique will also result in sharp, jagged edges. Use extreme care and go slow so you can be sure not to come into contact with them.

a spoon
How To Open A Can With A Spoon
  1. Grasp a teaspoon near the top of the head (the rounded, bottom, part).
  2. Place the pointed part of the spoon against the of the top of the lid (the same place you'd position the average, handheld can opener).
  3. Push to apply pressure and run the spoon back and forth about one to two inches until it cuts through the top of the can and a small hole is created.
  4. Insert the head of the spoon into the hole and force the side of the spoon to either direction, using it to cut your way around the can. Again take extreme care not to cut yourself.
  5. Remove the lid.

Tip: You can use this technique with a pocket knife as well, but then you're dealing with sharp edges on your lid and your utensil. This is why we prefer the safer, spoon method.

2. How To Open A Can With A Rock, Brick, Or Cement Block

If you're outdoors and find yourself without a can opener, you can also open a can using a pocket knife and a rock, brick, or cement block. You'll need a rough surface to create the proper friction. A smooth river rock would not be a good fit.

a brick

Zsolt Biczo/Shutterstock

  1. Hold the can upside down against a rough, flat surface.
  2. Rub the can back and forth against the rock to create friction. You don't have to give it as much muscle as you needed for the spoon technique but you'll still need to apply some pressure.
  3. The metal lid will begin to weaken and thin out.
  4. When a few drops of liquid seep through the lid, it will be thin enough to open.
  5. Puncture a hole with your pocket knife and work your way around the can, just like you did with the spoon technique. Take care not to cut yourself. The top of the metal has been weakened but the edges will still be sharp.

3. How To Open A Can WIth Flat Nose Pliers

If you find yourself without a can opener, yet still have a toolbox, flat nose pliers might be the ticket to feeding yourself.

flat nose pliers
  1. Pinch your pliers against the edge of the can and give it a good, firm, twist.
  2. Repeat this process, pinching, turning, and twisting as you make your way around the perimeter of the can.
  3. Once you've succeeded in breaking the seal, pinch the end of an exposed edge of the lid. It will be sharp, be sure to keep your hands away from the edges.
  4. Pull the lid upwards to remove it.

There you have it. Three methods for opening a can without a can opener. We hope they come in handy the next time you're in a pinch. Because nothing should come between you and your dinner...

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