Three Ways to Open a Can Without a Can Opener

There are other tools that get the job done.

Whether you're camping in the woods or staying at an Airbnb, there are a few circumstances when you may find yourself without a can opener—which isn't ideal if you banked on having a can of tuna fish or soup for dinner. While you could opt for takeout (although that's not really an option if you're surrounded by trees in a tent), there are other methods that can open canned goods without the handy kitchen tool. "I keep an old can punch tucked away in the back of a kitchen drawer," explains Ronna Welsh, founder of Purple Kale Kitchenworks. "In a pinch, a few consecutive punches will open a hole large enough for a large spoon to poke through." If you're not at home or don't own a can punch, there are a few other ways you can open your canned goods without a traditional can opener. Ahead, Welsh explains her go-to methods that will save the day should you ever run into this predicament.

opened can white beans
David Malosh

Use a Spoon

One popular and safe way to open canned goods without a can opener is by using a sturdy spoon, such as one that's made of stainless steel. Welsh says to start by firmly gripping the spoon's handle where it meets the bowl (the base of the utensil). With firm pressure, move the spoon back and forth over an inch of the lid, just inside the rim. The movement will degrade the metal until it gives. "It takes a bit of persistence to push the spoon's blunt edge through the lid, but the metal is thin and soft, and will eventually yield," Welsh explains. Once you've created a slit at the inner edge, move the spoon like a lever to cut out the rest of the lid. Welsh warns that you should be careful of jagged edges as you detach the roughly cut metal.

Use a Box Cutter

Although this method isn't as safe as using a spoon, if you're on a hike or camping with no other options, a pocket knife or box cutter will do the trick. Hold the can firmly in your hand on a stable surface and puncture the tip of the knife through the top of the can. Once you've successfully made a whole, repeat the process around the edge of the can until you're able to carefully open its lid. With less elegant tools, like a box cutter, Welsh notes that you may need to use kitchen towels or wear gloves for extra skin protection.

Use a Flat-Head Screwdriver

Turn to your toolbox and try using a flat-head screwdriver and hammer to open that can. Holding the screwdriver firmly in your hand, place it over the lid of the can just inside the rim. Pick up the hammer with your free hand and use it to gently tap the screwdriver until you successfully poke a hole through the can. Welsh says this will create enough of a hole to pour liquids through. "Make sure whatever found tools you use to open your can are cleaned and sanitized like any kitchen accessory," she says.

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