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Opening a Can Without a Can Opener

It is lunchtime in the forest, and you and your friends are craving those delicious canned beans you brought there to cook!

Now you are facing a problem.

You have your beans, but there is no can opener!

In this guide, we’re going to show you how you can use the simple items around you to get that can open in a matter of minutes!

We hope you will enjoy reading this, and let’s open some cans!

Method 1 – The Spoon

We believe that if you are camping right now and forgot your can opener at home, you probably still have a spoon. If we are right, prepare to open your can of vegetables, meat, or beans with this simple metal tool!

Preparation process: you will need a sturdy spoon, a steady surface for the can, and thick gloves for protection.

You can skip the gloves, but opening a can may be very dangerous and cause cuts. So, if you are a newbie in this area, use hand protection.

When you have everything prepared, put your can on the surface. Grab your spoon and place the spoon's tip on the lid of the can.

The spoon’s tip must be put very close to the lid’s edge at a ninety-degree angle over the can.

The spoon’s center should face the inner part of the lid. It should look like you want to grab food from the can in an ordinary way, but the lid prevents you from doing that.

Your next step should be rubbing the can’s lid with your spoon, with a gentle (remember to be careful!) but strong pressure.

Wait until the aluminum yields to your pressure, and you will be able to open the first small area. Next, repeat the process until you have a decent opening on the can.

Method 2 - The Knife

You may be thinking that opening a can with a knife needs to be first on this list. However, we kept it for second place, because it can be a little more dangerous than the spoon method.

So, you should be twice as careful when you use a knife to open your can.

Depending on the size of your tool, you can open any can in two ways. The first method works best if your knife is small.

You can open a can simply by sticking your knife into a lid, close to a lid’s edge, and just pushing the blade back and forth.

Keep moving the blade along the lid’s edge until you completely cut through the top or have a good enough opening to remove food from the can.

The second knife method works when you have a big knife, machete, or a cleaver.

With this kind of knife, you can just place your can on the counter or a table and cut off the lid of the can.

It is not a very good method for particularly juicy foods, unless you have a container to catch the spillage, but you can open meat or fish preserves this way very quickly.

And the last third method is to use a professional chef’s knife.

Almost all big professional knives have a particular shape — the blade of the knife is not attached to a handle completely, and you will have a small part close to a handle that is useful for making small holes in your can.

Your final goal is to make a lot of small cuts on the lid, mimicking the opener’s trace, and then lift and remove the top once you can.

It is a tricky method, but it can protect your knife’s blade since you cut the can with the knife’s thickest edge. 

Method 3 – The Axe

It is quite an easy and fast method to open any can, but you need to follow some rules before using it.

Firstly, if you have a new axe, that’s fantastic, but if it was used before, you need to clean and disinfect it, because the axe will definitely touch your food. So, let’s move on to preparations. 

Firstly, you need to put your can in a wide plastic or metal bowl, to prevent juices from the can from splashing. Grab the can and place it on the side into the bowl.

Next, take an axe and start gently cutting off the can’s lid, while rotating it. Soon enough, the lid will fall off, and voila! Enjoy your meal.

Method 4 – The Rock

This is an opportunity to get in touch with the essence of true survivalism and use one of the most ancient of instruments, as our ancestors did – the rock!

You need to find a rock with one sharp edge and one smooth edge. Use the sharp side to break through the lid and make the opening in it — you can either rub it until the metal is broken or hit the lid with the rock’s sharp edge until there is a hole in the metal. 

Once you have the opening and have broken the seal, making a bigger hole will be a lot easier. When it is big enough, just scoop out your food and eat! But be careful with those sharp edges!

Method 5 – Scissors

If you have big metal scissors on hand, they can easily help you to open that aluminum can and get at that delicious food inside!

Cans are usually made from a pretty soft metal so that good scissors will cut through any can. But do keep in mind that your scissors will go blunt if you use this method often.

So, to open a can, you need to grab the scissors by the handle with one hand and carefully stick it into the can’s lid, slightly rotating it, to make an opening.

You also must hold the can tightly with your other hand during the process to prevent the scissors from slipping.

When you have a small hole, you can cut out the bigger opening with your scissors.

If they aren't sharp enough to cut through the lid, you can repeat the process and keep making small holes with the scissors’ tip until you will be satisfied with the hole’s size.

Method 6 – The Rock - Version 2!

This method, despite being a second version of the first, is pretty unique and it can be useful if you can’t find any small rocks, but you do have a big one nearby.

The method is very simple: just grab your can by its bottom and place the can on the flat rock (or a block of concrete if it happens to be there).

Then, start rubbing the rim of the lid against the rock. It will take some time and patience from you but once you see some moisture arising under the can, know that you are very close!

Keep rubbing the can until you can easily remove the can's lid.

Clean the can’s surface from any dirt to prevent contamination of the food. Now you can open the lid to get access to your meal. How simple was that!

Method 7 - Use some pliers

A set of pliers are a handy tool that should be present in every home. If you have some in yours, you can now use them for opening that can of peaches you have been craving for days!

First of all, take your flat-nose pliers (needle-tip ones can work too, but flat-nose pliers will provide you with a faster result) and grab the lip of the can.

Gently twist the pliers from bottom to top until you feel that the can’s seal is broken.

After you’ve broken the seal in this spot, move the pliers a bit further, and try again until you make an opening again.

Now you need to keep performing this action all around the lip for as long as takes to remove the lid from your can.

If you use needle-tip pliers, you should do it in a similar way. It will take a little more time and effort, but it is possible too.

Method 8 - Handy-dandy screwdriver

Screwdrivers are one of the most valuable, everyday tools that one can have in his or her toolbox.

And, you can now use it to open your delicious cans of food! Just grab your screwdriver and place the pointy part perpendicular to the can’s lid.

Now you need to push and move the screwdriver back and forth, to make a hole in the lid.

Once you have one, make a series of insertions, forming the circle. You can use this circle to cut further across the lid, or depending on the type of can, insert some pliers and pull the lid off altogether.

You can also use a screwdriver in another way: if it is wide enough, you can use it to open the can just like we suggested with the pliers.

You need to place the screwdriver’s tip under the lid’s lip and try to twist it until the seal is broken.

You can also make cuts under the lip if it is easier: you have all the freedom and creativity at your fingertips when choosing how to open that can!

Method 9 - You need a hammer (and a nail)!

This is a very harsh method, but it works, so it is worth putting on this list. So, to open any can with a hammer and nail, firstly, clean your tools by washing them thoroughly.

Hammers and nails can have all kinds of chemicals on them, so cleaning and drying them is essential.

Now, you have your tools prepared, put your can on the counter and place the nail on the lid.

Start hammering a nail very carefully and slowly, until you will see a hole in the lid. Now, repeat the process very near to a first hole and repeat.

Eventually, the opening will become big enough to pour out your soup or remove beans from your can.

It is one of the easiest methods to open a can without an opener, but it requires special tools so it cannot be your first choice. Nevertheless, it is easy and quick, so give it a try when in need. 

Method 10. If you do not have tools, use your hands!

Last and only use this as a last resort! Yes, you read it right, you can open a can even with your bare hands.

It is not the most convenient way to do it (and will require some considerable strength!) but your hands are sometimes your only tool.

To prepare, place the can between your palms and put your thumbs on the center of the can’s side.

1. Start pressing on the can, trying to make as big a dent as you can. Once you have finished, repeat the process on the opposite side of the can. Your goal is to make the can look like an eight number from the side.

2. To make dents even deeper, you can place the can between your palms and start bending it. Keep bending the can back and forth until you will be able to break a seal and rip the center of the can.

3. Remove all the metal shreds in your food (look very carefully for them), and now you are ready to eat!

About Tom Bell

Hi - I'm Tom, the owner and founder of TheSurvivalSpirit.com! I'm a passionate outdoors enthusiast and am dedicated to bringing you the hottest online survival advice.  


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About The Survival Spirit

TheSurvivalSpirit.com is run by survival enthusiast, Tom Bell! This website features all of the latest hints and tips on survival, prepping and the great outdoors.

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