Solved: How To Open A Tin Without A Tin Opener!

It’s Sunday, and you’re in the middle of meal prep when you suddenly notice that you have no tin openers nearby. Worse yet, what if you do own one, but the last time you saw it was at your friend’s place? Well, most canned products have an easy-open tab, but how about those that don’t? 

Various tins on a teble

Worry not, and by no means don’t give up on the entire meal for that reason alone. You can still save your air fryer or mini oven from another cooking round! However, if you are looking for some practical solution to open a tin without a tin opener, you are in the right place! Read on to find out how to open a can without a tin opener. And if you want to open a wine bottle without a corkscrew, we can help with that too!

How to open a tin with a spoon

You are in your kitchen, and you are out of can openers. You look around, and all you see are spoons. It’s ok; you can make that happen. Follow the steps below to find out how to open a tin without a tip opener just by using a spoon.

A tin open can with a spoon on a wooden table

  1. Set the can on a firm surface and use one hand to keep it firmly in place while working with the spoon with your other hand. Place the tip of the spoon against the inside edge of the can. To seal the can shut, the lid will have a small, raised lip that has been crimped. 
  2. You’ll want to place the spoon along the inside edge of this lip. Hold the spoon with the inside of the bowl facing the lid of the can. Bear in mind that this requires the use of a metal spoon only. Any other type of material will not work.
  3. Then, go back and forth with the spoon tip and work it over the same little area where the lid’s crimped edge is. The can lid will begin to thin due to the friction caused by moving the spoon back and forth. Continue until you’ve rubbed all the way through the lid. 
  4. The hole you’ve drilled in the lid should be slightly bigger now, so continue scooting the spoon over the can lid and running it through it until the entire lid has been circled. The cover should be loose at this point, so if you turn the can upside down, your food will pour all over the place. 
  5. Now, prise the lid open and submerge the spoon under the lid’s edge. Using your fingers, prise the lid upward until it pops out of place and carefully pull it away to uncover it. If prising off the lid with the spoon proves challenging, consider using a knife instead. 
  6. Any little bits of the lid that remain connected to the can will be sawed through with the knife. When prising the lid off, be careful not to hurt yourself on the edge of the can. If necessary, shield yourself with a sleeve or a cloth.

How to open a tin with a knife

You need to be extra careful when trying to open a can with a knife. To do so, follow the steps as shown below:

Woman hands opening a closed tin using a knife

  1. First, it’s best to place the can on a firm surface such as a table that’s as high as your hips. Do not put the can between your legs or on your lap. It’s possible that the knife will slip and hurt you so hold the knife at the same point where the handle and blade meet. 
  2. With your palm directly at the connecting point, grip the top of the knife. At this point, your fingers should rest on the handle’s side and are safely away from the blade’s sharp edge. Make sure you have a strong grip on the object.
  3. It can be risky if your hand or the knife is slick. That is why this approach should not be used with anything smaller than a chef’s knife. A chef’s knife is a huge, hefty knife that is more than twice the weight of a pruning or steak one. Go check your kitchen knife set you’ll find the right one.
  4. To effectively puncture the can’s lid, you’ll rely on the blade’s somewhat substantial weight. The widest part of the blade is at the heel of the knife. It’s on the blade’s opposite side from the tip so place the knife’s heel on the raised lip of the can.
  5. The heel of your hand should be centred under the point where your palm grips the knife so make sure it’s firmly pressed against the lid’s edge to prevent it from slipping. The knife’s heel should be pressed into the container so firmly press down on the can to pierce it and create a small hole. Try rising up and bending over the can if you’re having problems puncturing it and then secure the knife in place with one hand. 
  6. Next, apply consistent pressure and push down until the can is punctured with both hands. Do not use a hammer to puncture the can. It’s possible that the knife will slip and hurt you. Instead, gently press down on the can with the knife until it bursts through. 
  7. Also, don’t be tempted to pierce the can with the knife’s sharp tip. The heel has a better grip and is less likely to slip, so if you use the tip, your blade’s edge will be ruined. Then, make a new hole with the knife by scooting it over and moving it along the lid’s edge for about a few centimetres
  8. Next, create a second hole next to the first one using the same method. Continue until you’ve punched holes around the can’s inner edge and make a circle around the entire can as you usually would with the can opener.
  9. The cover should be loose at this point, so prise the lid open and place the tip of the knife into one of the holes. To prise the lid off, push up and make sure the blade’s edge is pointed away from your body, so it doesn’t injure you if it slides. 
  10. Finally, remove the lid and throw it away. You can use a smaller kitchen knife to saw through any remaining linked sections of the lid if necessary.

How to open a tin using a pliers

This might be the easiest way to open a can without a can opener. All you need is a can (obviously) and pliers. The steps you need to follow are:

A woman trying to open a tin with a wrench and pliers

  1. Clamp the outer edge of the lid down using the pliers and twist and pinch the metal until it warps or breaks. Once you have an opening, push it back and forth until one of the edges is large enough for the pliers‘ tip to clamp down on. 
  2. Now, peel back the can’s lid while holding on to the edge. This method can also be used to open a pull-top can that refuses to open for whatever reason. You may hold on to the tab and roll it back.

How to open a tin using tin snips

Tin snips are one of the simplest and “cleanest” techniques because there is little chance of leaking the contents of the can, and the lid is less likely to have jagged edges

  1. Place the can on a flat, stable surface and grip the tin snips firmly. 
  2. See that “lip” that spans the length of the top of the can? Cut through it at an angle with the tin snips and twist it carefully. Finally, peel the lid off once you’ve sliced out around 75% of the lip. 

How to open a tin using a rough surface or concrete blocks

If you don’t have a knife or spoon within reach, you can literally brush the can against the pavement. This method can also be used with a hollow cement block. A highly abrasive surface is required, though. A smooth tile or piece of pavement will not be enough. 

Friction is crucial here to work its magic on the can’s lid. Find a huge, flat, coarse surface, such as concrete pavement, a concrete block, or even a large flat rock with a rough surface. Place the can on the pavement, a rock, or a hollow piece of concrete upside-down

You’ll be able to break the seal this way. Rub the rock with the can in a back-and-forth “scrubbing” motion while providing even pressure. Continue rubbing the can against the rough surface until moisture develops on the rock. 

Check to see if any moisture has built upon the can by turning it over. Once you see moisture forming on the can, stop rubbing. Otherwise, you will risk spilling the contents and ruining the can.

The lid should be thin enough to penetrate and prise away from the can. A pocket knife, a small knife, a spoon, a butter knife, or any other similar item can be used to do so. The lid may even thin to the point where you can squeeze either side of the can with both hands, and the entire lid will then drop off. You can even bash the cover in with a tiny rock, but only as a last resort as this can be messy.

Open tins of corn , beans and peas isolated on white

How to open a tin using your bare hands

Only consider this method as an absolute last resort

First, remove any labels from the can and look for the grooves. Grip your fingers into the grooves towards the middle of the up-facing side with one hand on each end of the can. If your hands aren’t strong or large enough, place the can on the ground and use your hand’s “heel” to push against the grooves.

Rotate the can 180 degrees and push your fingers back into the grooves once you’ve formed a dent on one side and then make the dents on the can’s sides even deeper. To do so, hold the can horizontally with the heels of either hand on each of the flat top and bottom lids. 

Place your hands’ “heels” at the top of the now-flatter sections, closer to the outer rim of the can and away from the centre. Squeeze the two ends together by pressing them with your palms and then do the same thing on the other side.

Continue squeezing both sides of the can, providing an equal amount of squeezes on both sides to uniformly deepen the dents. To make it easier, interlock your fingers as you squeeze. Continue doing so until the can takes on an hourglass shape. 

When the body of the tin can no longer be dented, grip either end firmly and carefully pull the can apart. You can open the can from the centre by bending it towards you. Spoon the contents into a separate container and sift away any metal shavings that may have been mixed up.

All done! No matter which method you choose above, always remember that tins have sharp edges, so you will need to protect your hands and fingers all along the way! 

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