How to Use a Can Opener

Can openers are basic but important tools in the kitchen. Even if you have a top-notch can opener at home, you might come across a different one at a friend’s place or a vacation rental.

How to Use a Can Opener

No need to stress, we’ve put together a guide on using various types of can openers. By following these simple tips, you’ll ensure you open cans safely and prolong the life of your can opener. Now, let’s dive into the details and make sure you’re equipped to handle any can opener you encounter!

How to use a handheld can opener

Keep in mind that most handheld can openers are made for right-handed users, but you can find left-handed ones at specialty stores.

  1. Put the can on a flat surface.
  2. Open up the arms of the can opener to separate the sharp cutting wheel from the notched feed wheel.
  3. Align the two wheels by placing the cutting wheel on the top of the can lid’s right side (where the knob is on the outside). Make sure they are straight and not at an angle to the can.
  4. Squeeze the arms of the can opener together until you hear the cutting wheel pierce the can lid.
  5. Turn the knob clockwise. The feed wheel will grab the can’s lip, and the opener will cut through the lid. Continue turning until you’ve cut around the entire can, leaving a small uncut portion if needed. The can will rotate as you go.
  6. Safely remove the lid. Use a butter knife, being careful not to cut yourself on the sharp edge of the can.

How to use a smooth edge or safety can opener

Smooth-edge or safety can openers work similarly to regular handheld ones but cut through the side of the can instead of the top.

  1. Place the can on a flat surface.
  2. Align the two wheels: position the notched feed wheel at the lip of the lid and the cutting wheel on the side of the can.
  3. Turn the knob. The knob might be on the side or top of the can opener, depending on the model. As you cut the lid and open the can, the opener will naturally rotate around it.
  4. Use the notch lid pliers to remove the top. The can opener will cut a thin ring of metal; place the pliers under the lid and lift it off.

How to use an electric can opener

Here’s how to use an electric can opener:

  1. Plug in the can opener.
  2. Position the can against the opener:
  • Raise the lever.
  • Align the can with the opening, making sure it’s flush against the back of the can opener, and that the wheel and blades are in line.
  1. Lower the lever to clamp the can in place:
  • Ensure the cutting blade lines up with the inside of the can’s lid, and the magnet rests on the top of the lid.
  1. Turn the power on:
  • The cutting blade will puncture the lid, and the can opener will automatically rotate the can. Lightly hold the can to prevent spillage as it turns.
  1. Once the scan has finished rotating and cutting:
  • The lid should be separated from the can.
  1. Hold the can and lift the lever to release it from the can opener.
  2. Remove the lid from the magnet.

How to clean and maintain a can opener

For Handheld Can Openers:

  1. After each use:
  • Wash the entire can opener (handles, gears, and blade) with dish soap and hot water using a sponge.
  • For a deeper clean, use a scrub brush or toothbrush for the gears and both sides of the blade.
  • Dry the can opener with a dish towel and let it air dry with the handles spread open on a clean towel before storing it to prevent rust.
  1. Avoid:

Don’t put handheld can openers in the dishwasher as it can cause rust on gears and dull the blades.

  1. Removing Rust or Gunk:
  • If rusty or gunky, soak the can opener in white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • for a few hours or overnight.
  • Scrub gears with a toothbrush or small cleaning brush, and rinse with warm water. If residue remains, apply dish soap or baking soda to the gears, scrub again, and then dry thoroughly before storage.
  1. To Extend Performance:

Periodically apply a small amount of food-grade mineral oil to the gears using a dishcloth.

For Electric Can Openers

  1. After each use:

Wipe the can opener with a soft, damp cloth and dry thoroughly with a clean, dry cloth.

  1. Removing Rust or Gunk:
  • If the piercing lever/cutting wheel is removable, unplug the can opener and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for removal.
  • Wash the removable parts in hot, soapy water, then rinse and dry thoroughly. If the cutting wheel isn’t removable, use a toothbrush dipped in baking soda to scrub off residue or rust.
  • Wipe clean with a soft, damp cloth or wet paper towel and dry with a clean, dry cloth.

Remember to consult your user manual for specific care instructions for your model. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

How to open a can without a can opener

If you don’t have a can opener, here are a few alternative ways to open a can:

  1. Use a Spoon:
  • Grab a large, sturdy spoon (preferably stainless steel).
  • Hold the can with one hand and, with the other hand, rub the tip of the spoon firmly into the edge of the can, just inside the rim.
  • Continue rubbing a small area of the lid until it gives way.
  • Repeat until you have an opening large enough to peel back the lid.
  • Be careful to avoid jagged edges to prevent cutting yourself.
  1. Use a Screwdriver and Hammer:
  • If the can contains liquid (like soup or coconut milk), use a flat-head screwdriver.
  • Hold the screwdriver firmly along the rim of the can.
  • With your other hand, gently tap the top of the screwdriver handle with a hammer to puncture a hole in the metal.
  • This method is suitable for pouring out the contents.
  1. Use a Pocketknife or Box Cutter:
  • Exercise caution with this method.
  • Use the pointy blade of a pocket knife or box cutter to pierce the top of the can.
  • Continue cutting around the edge until you can pry it open.
  • Consider using dish gloves or a kitchen towel to avoid cutting your hand on the jagged edges.

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