3 Ways to Open a Can Without a Can Opener

by Heather Callaghan

Originally Published at Activist Post

This could save a life some day.

Or make a camping trip slightly less inconvenient.

Or save you a trip the store when your modern chintzy can opener inevitably breaks the first time you use it (true story for me).

These three ways to open a can without a can opener are listed in order of “least convenient” to “most convenient.” A couple methods require some other type of tool, plus strength. But really, anyone can do this!

#3 Chef”s Knife – the “right angle” and leverage goes a long way. It isn’t the most ideal way (unless you’re a chef) because it requires the knife, considerable strength and can be unsafe if not carefully done. This person is a pro.

The gentleman below show the next two methods.

#2 The Spoon – handy if you have a spoon and some strength and persistence. Use the spoon to weaken the groove around the rim of the top of the can. Press spoon in to puncture and continue as needed.


#1 Concrete/rock – The best method for outdoor/survival situations. Requires no tools and minimal strength. Turn the can upside down and vigorously rub against the concrete until the seal is weakened to the point of being able to press the lid inward or squeeze can to open lid upward.

This is a closeup of the can’s seal, introduced in 1909 and I don’t think it’s much different today. You can see why the rock/concrete method works so well.

Can solderless seam cutaway

There you have it – once learned, this cannot be unlearned. Go forth and open cans.

Here’s my annoying can opener story and why I constantly scan yard sales for “old timey” can openers. My parents once gave me a brand new can opener from the store for my new living space. The first time I used it, it crumbled in my hands and broke. I don’t think it even punctured the can. Piece of garbage. Not the first time this happened, either.

Later, my father found a box of utensils left by “generations of yore” and in it was an old can opener – I’m guessing from the 1960s? It looks somewhat like this and this model came out on the market in the 1920s:

This one still serves me daily in the kitchen. I highly recommend that any time you come across old, but high-quality can openers at yard sales and thrift shops – you pick them up! I pick up old utensils (like non-electronic egg beaters) all the time for daily use – because they always work and after decades of use still show no signs of breakdown. For me, this is the answer to the question “Why can’t we have nice things anymore?” Find them while you can.

But speaking of nice things, for under $1.50, you can snag yourself a nifty Vietnam-era P-38 can opener that can fit on your key chain. There is also a P-51 model. This video shows how to use them.

Do you have other ways of opening a can? Please share them below.

Heather Callaghan is a natural health blogger and food freedom activist. You can see her work at NaturalBlaze.com and ActivistPost.com. Like at Facebook.