Opening a can with a can opener

It happens to the best of us. You have the food but forgot the eating utensils or plates. When it comes to canned food, failing to bring the can opener may seem like an end-of-the-world disaster – unless you know these simple methods for opening a metal can without using a can opener.

The “simple” methods

First, don’t forget the “simple” methods for opening a metal can without a can opener. Check your pocketknife – maybe it has a can opener built in. If not, you can always simply cut the top of the can away by gripping the can tightly and sawing about 1/8 inch of the top part of the can off (i.e. 1/8 inch away from the metal ring). It’s messy and might slice a bit of the food contents off with the end of the can but it’ll do in a pinch.

Use a tool as a “chisel”

If you have a solid, sturdy metal tool, such as a screwdriver, you can use the object as a chisel. Using a hammer or butt-end of your survival knife, you can drive the tool directly into the top of the metal can’s lid, shift the “chisel” over a bit, and drive another section out of the can’s lid. Eventually the lid’s edges will be perforated enough to allow easy removal from the can with your knife.

The simplest way to open a can without a can opener

Here’s a trick that when described, sounds impossible. In reality, it’s the easiest and most simple way to remove the lid of a can without using a can opener. Simply take the can and rub the top of the can (held upside down) back and forth along a flat rock or piece of concrete. After about 20 seconds, you’ll begin to see liquid running from the can (assuming there is some sort of liquid content inside the can). Once the contents of the can begins to drain, twist the can one-quarter turn and continue rubbing the lid on the hard surface. The rubbing, which abrades the lip where the lid seals the can, will remove the can’s seal. When finished, you’ll need to pry the lid off or squeeze the sides of the can to pop the lid off.

1 – Rub the can on a hard surface.

Rub can on concrete

 

2 – Watch for the contents draining out

Watch for liquid draining out

 

3 – Pop or pry lid off

Pop or pry lid off

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