How To Open a Can Without a Can Opener

5 min read
Tin Cans

If you ever go camping and forget to bring a can opener, or you mistakenly pull off that little key that comes with the can of corned beef, you don’t have to starve. There are actually several ways you can open that can and enjoy the contents inside. Keep reading to learn how.

9. Use a Spoon

Spoon Can

Believe it or not, you can open a can with a spoon. It may sound crazy, but it’s totally possible. The first thing you need to do is grab a metal spoon. Then, position the tip of the spoon against the inner lid of the can, with the inside of the bowl of the spoon facing in, and place the spoon in the groove on the lip of the can where the lid meets the rim. Next, rub the tip of the spoon on the lip of the can. This will create friction, which will thin the metal and allow the spoon to rub through the lid. Repeat until you’ve rubbed the spoon through the metal all around the rim of the can. Lastly, dig the spoon under the lid and pry it upwards.

8. Use a Fork

Fork Can

Another eating utensil that can help you open a tin can is a fork. Beware, though: you will most likely destroy your fork, so make sure you use one that you don’t mind throwing away after. Once you choose a fork, what you will need to do, according to Women’s Health magazine, is, “grip the base of the fork and place it on top of the can so that one prong is on the inner edge with the other three over the rim. Tap down hard with your other hand until you pierce the edge of the can. Keep the prong of the fork inside the hole and work your way around the entire edge, ripping the metal similar to your MIA can opener. If you’re having trouble ripping the metal with just one little opening, pierce several consecutive holes and then try again.”

7. Use Scissors

Source: Pixabay

If you have a pair of scissors close by, you can use them to open a can. Here’s how: with the blades closed, place them pointy-side down on top of the can next to the lip of the tin and tap the scissors with your palm to pierce the can. “The best way to do this is to place the can on a flat area where it has less chance of moving and is at least a forearm’s distance from your body,” Megan Hine, a survival consultant and author of Mind of a Survivor, told Women’s Health magazine.

6. Use Pliers


Depending on who you ask, flat-nosed pliers work best with this method. Others say long-nosed or needle-tip pliers work just as well. There are also a couple of different ways to open a can using pliers. The first is to use your flat-nosed pliers to vigorously crimp and crush the can’s lip. This will weaken the lid’s seal so you can pry it off. The second way is to use either type of pliers to clamp down on the lip of the can and pinch and twist it until the metal warps or breaks. Once you see an opening, you can use the pliers to grab the lid and peel it back.

5. Use a Knife

Knife Can

For this method, you will need a large knife (e.g. a chef’s knife). Place the widest part of the knife closest to the handle perpendicular to the can’s seam. Perforate the lid, and repeat this process around the rim until you are able to pry open the lid.

TIP: You can also use a pocket knife to open a tin can as well. Just make sure the blade is sharp. After you’ve sharpened your blade, place it against the inner edge of the can’s lid. Then, use your hand or a hammer to pound the pommel of the knife. Repeat until you have punctured the entire lid with holes. Lastly, pry off the lid with your pocket knife.

4. Use Concrete or Rock

Source: Pixabay

If you’re thinking you can just smash the can against some concrete or rock to open it, you’re wrong. Well, technically you could do it that way, but that’s not the method we’re going to explain. To open a can using concrete or rock, turn the can upside down, place it flat against the concrete, and rub the top surface repeatedly back and forth against the concrete. Doing this will scrape off the thin top layer of metal that forms the lip of the can and creates the seal between the body of the can and the lid. Once you’ve scraped off enough metal, turn the can over and give it a little squeeze. This will dislodge the lid. Beware, though: if you use this method to open a can that contains mostly liquids, it’ll start leaking while it’s still upside down.

3. Use Your Bare Hands

Bare Hands
Source: Pexels

Unless you’re Popeye the Sailor Man, you might want to be careful trying to open a can with your bare hands. It is possible to do, though, and it does require a lot of physical strength — hence the reference to Popeye. Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Dent each side of the can in the same place.
Step 2: Twist the top and bottom half of the can in opposite directions.
Step 3: Break the can in two.

2. Use a Bike Tool

Bike Tool
Source: Wikimedia Commons By Donald Trung Quoc Don (Chữ Hán: 徵國單) – Wikimedia Commons – © CC BY-SA 4.0 International. (No Fake News) (WikiProject Numismatics) (Articles) 19:54, 10 May 2019 (UTC) [CC BY-SA (]
As you can see from the image above, this handy little tool has lots of gadgets on it you can use to get your tin can open. WARNING: as with many of the other objects listed in this article, your bike tool might break if you use it to open a can. Nevertheless, desperate situations call for desperate measures. That being said, here’s how you can open a can using a bike tool: stab the can a hard as possible in the weaker areas around the rim until you see an opening. Then pull the lid off using your bike tool or another object.

1. Use Tin Snips

Tin Snips
Source: Wikimedia Commons By HutheMeow [CC BY-SA (]
This may perhaps be the easiest way to open a can when a can opener is not within reach. American Survival Guide magazine explains on its website how to do it:

Step 1: Grip the tin snips firmly and place the can on a sturdy flat surface. To avoid accidental injury, don’t use this method while holding the can in your other hand, on your lap, or between your legs.
Step 2: See that “lip” that runs around the entire top of the can? Cut into that at an angle with the tin snips.
Step 3: Continue to cut into the lip, slowly rotating the can as you cut.
Step 4: Once you’ve cut out about 75 percent of the lip, carefully pry the lid off.