how to use a can opener

4 Sensible Ways: How to Use a Can Opener

Canned foods are incredibly convenient, but you need to get into it to prepare the meal they’re part of. If you don’t have your can opener nearby or you’ve lost it somehow, it can be tough to get into that can and get the meal started. With so many different can openers on the market, it can be hard to choose one, especially if you don’t know what kind of cans you’ll be opening in the future.

Some models are better than others at easily opening different can sizes, while others may not give you the option of using them as a bottle opener or nutcracker if that’s something you want in your kitchen. This guide will touch on the different options available on the market today and, of course, how to use a can opener.

Tin Opening Solutions

Method 1: Using a Manual Can Opener

This simple hand-operated can opener allows you to open cans without any power source. The manual can opener has a sharp cutting wheel driven by hand, and it cuts along one side of a can and around its lid.

hand-operated tool

Manual can openers are old-fashioned and ideal when you are outdoors or camping. If you cannot use your hands or do not have enough strength in your hands, a manual can opener could be your best option.

As manual can openers come in many different styles, it may take some time before you find one that suits your needs. This can opener has three key components: a cutting wheel, an arm that drives that wheel, and handles used for manual operation.


  • Manual can opener
  • Can

The first step in using a manual can opener the correct way is to place it on top of your can. In most cases, there will be grooves on your cutting wheel and lid which allow them to fit properly over your can. Some models will have multiple wheels, allowing you to remove parts if you need more room for lid placement.

Now comes the time for opening. To open your can manually, start by placing both handles or clamp together on one side of your lid while applying pressure with both hands or one hand if needed until you hear or feel it begin opening and slice the rim of the can.

Method 2: Using an Electric Can Opener

Although most cans are fairly easy to open with just your hands, it’s good to keep an electric can opener on hand for emergencies. The following steps will guide you through how to use an electric can opener:


  • Electric can opener
  • Can

For this method, you’re required to set up your can opener on a flat surface and plug it in. Ensure that it’s not plugged into an outlet controlled by a wall switch. Otherwise, you might accidentally turn off your electric can opener while you’re using it.

Steadily hold down either of your can opener’s release levers until they click into place. This is where people get frustrated. Holding down these levers isn’t always easy and usually requires brute strength. But, as long as you don’t give up, it’ll work eventually.

Place your can opener around one side of your can and slowly roll it down over your can’s top. The wheels of your electric can opener should make contact with both sides of your can. Make sure that you’re rotating it in a way that will align with how you want to open your can.

Method 3: Using a Smooth Edge Can Opener

These can openers are by far the most popular. However, their classic design and simple operation mean that it is important for you to know how to use them properly. Most of these can openers operate in three simple steps: loadturn and remove.

Before starting, always check that your can opener is clean and that its blade is sharp enough to puncture cans easily. If not, find out how to sharpen a can opener here. Always start by picking up your can with one hand while holding on tightly with your other hand.

The bottom of the can should be touching your palm, and your thumb and fingers should be supporting its bottom edge so that it doesn’t move or slip as you open it up. Here is a simple step-by-step process on how to use a can opener.


  • Smooth edge opener
  • Can

On your closed can, simply place the opener horizontally with the open gap of the circular parts of the can opener on the can’s edge or rim.

With one hand, hold down the can and use your other hand to turn the can opener until you feel it locked onto the can lid.

Next, you need to rotate the opener’s knob in a clockwise motion until you make a full circle around the can.

Once you are done with the circle around the entire can, remove the opener, carefully lift off the lid, and access the can’s content.

Method 4: Can Lid Lifter Tab

This is probably one of the most popular can-opening tools because it eliminates that pesky cut into the lid step. It also works best for slightly larger cans. Here is a simple guide on how to use a can lid lifter to open your can.


  • Lid Lifter tab
  • Can

Put your can (with lid) onto your cutting board and hold it in place with one hand, so it doesn’t roll around when you start lifting.

Hold on to the can tab at the top of the can and pull toward yourself slightly until you hear a clicking sound. Lift the tab towards you to open the lid with the sharp edges facing away from you.

Can I Use a Swiss Army Knife Like a Can Opener?

The Swiss Army knife is a universally praised tool for nature, but you can also use it at home. The can opener found on most Swiss Army knives is just as effective as regular can openers. However, before using it, make sure that your can opener has recently been sharpened and is completely clean of any residue that could prevent it from working correctly.

Then place your finger into one of four spots on your knife’s blade and press down to create leverage on your can lid—this should make it easier for you to break, cut, and twist into it. You should, however, note that Swiss knife can openers will not give you a clean cut of the can’s lid and can be dangerous if used the wrong way.

Knowing How to Use a Tin Opener

We hope this guide has covered the basics of using a can opener! Choosing a can opener based on your needs, lifestyle, and preferences can be apparently overwhelming. If you are unsure what kind of can opener you need, we recommend looking for one that’s easy to use.

Besides serving as a kitchen essential, canned goods are also great storage containers. Investing in canned goods is part of an affordable long-term storage plan for many people who live off-grid or spend a lot of time outdoors.

A well-thought-out plan can save you from purchasing expensive prepared foods from local stores or eating unhealthy fast food every day.

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