The Easiest Ways To Open Cans Without A Can Opener

Canned food is an integral part of most modern kitchens. Whether you're making tuna croquettes or turning a can of beans into surprisingly delectable brownies, you likely find yourself using canned goods on a regular basis. 

Unfortunately, while pull-top cans are popular, most canned foods still require a can opener to access — and there's a decent chance you'll find yourself in a situation without one at some point in your life. Don't worry, though. Smithsonian Magazine states that can openers were invented about 50 years after the first cans, so people have been struggling to open cans without can openers for centuries. 

Those early cans, which were made of wrought iron, required a hammer and chisel to open. Fortunately, though, modern cans are made of thinner metal and designed for ease of use. With the right technique and a little brute force, you can find the tools to pry open cans without even having to leave the kitchen.

How to open a can with a spoon

Opening a can with a spoon might not be the most efficient method, but as Southern Living notes, it's relatively safe and doesn't require any additional equipment. To open a can with a spoon, grip the bowl of the spoon in your fist, with the tip extending just a bit past your pinky. With the spoon at a 90-degree angle to the top of the can, press the tip of the bowl into the inner lip of the can and vigorously rub it back and forth over a small spot. The friction from the spoon should start to wear a dint along the edge of the can. Be patent; it'll take a while to make progress. Eventually, though, you should wear a small hole in the lid.

Keep rubbing the spoon against the inner lip of the can until you've created a hole big enough to open. Once you think the hole is big enough, use the spoon as a lever to carefully pry back the lid. It's a good idea to grip the lid with a towel while you remove it since the edge will be jagged.

How to open a can with a knife

Using a knife to open a can cuts straight to the point, but be careful — it's not as safe as the spoon method. It's also an easy way to damage your knife, so don't use your best kitchen knife to hack open a can of tomatoes.

As per Country Living, the best method for opening a can with a knife is to use the heel of a chef's knife like a traditional can opener. Using the heel is safer than using the tip, which can readily slip or break.

To open the can, place the can on a stable surface and grip the knife firmly by the handle. Place the heel of the knife — the rear end of the cutting edge just before the handle — against the lip of the can. Firmly press the heel of the knife into the lid of the can using the lip as a lever. Once you've created a hole, work the knife along the edge of the can until you can pry the lid off. Keep in mind that this method won't work for all chef's knives, especially if the blade is attached to the handle with a thick bolster.

If all else fails, while cutting directly into the can isn't recommended, you can use a pocket knife or paring knife to puncture the lid at a 90-degree angle. But it's best to stick to a spoon or a chef's knife, as these methods are not only more effective but safer.