How to Use a Manual Can Opener

Three Methods:Positioning the Can OpenerOpening the CanTroubleshooting

The manual can opener has fallen out of popular use as higher-tech kitchen devices grow to dominate the market. This simple tool is relatively straightforward, but you may need some practice to use it efficiently. Be very careful not to cut yourself on the sharp edges of the opened can!

Method 1
Positioning the Can Opener

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    Identify the cutting edge. Generally, the cutter mechanism of the manual can opener features a sharp tip to puncture of the can lid. You may see a curved or hooked point. It usually sits at the apex of the two long "arms" that you use to open and close the device. It should be situated alongside the handle, the axle, and the serrated wheel that will bite into the rim of the can lid.[1]
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    Position the can on a flat, stable surface. Don't hold the can in the air. A stable base provides a force of resistance against the bottom of the can. This will give you added leverage for piercing the can lid. When you hold the can in the air, you also place yourself at a greater risk of cutting yourself or spilling the contents.
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    Open the arms of the can opener. Spread them as wide as they will go. This will allow you to fit the opener against the can in the correct starting position.[2]
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    Place the cutter on the top of the can. Make sure that the puncturing point rests on the lip of the can lid. This should align the serrated cutting wheel with the edge of the can. Check that the rotating handle faces the outside of the can.

Method 2
Opening the Can

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    Puncture the lid. Close the twin handle pieces together to push the point of the can opener into the can lid. Listen for a hissing sound as the cutter pierces the lid and releases pressure from inside the can.[3]
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    Twist the handle. Rotate the bar on the outside of the handle to start rolling the serrated wheel around the interior lip of the can lid. As the wheel rolls, it should consistently and evenly slice through the metal. Work your way all the way around the rim of the can lid until it is almost completely severed from the rest of the can.
    • Generally, the bar rotates clockwise to perform this cut. If you do not see the intended results, try reversing the direction of the bar.
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    Lift the the lid. Use your fingernail or a knife to pry up the severed edge of the lid until you can grip it between your fingers. Carefully pull the lid up and away from the can top. Pour the contents of the can into a bowl or another container – or just eat out of the can! Throughout this process, be very cautious not to cut yourself on the razor-sharp edge of the can or the severed can lid. Pinch the flat top and bottom of the lid, but try not to touch the sides.
    • Alternately, you can continue to cut until the can lid comes off completely. The lid may sink slightly into the contents of the can, making it somewhat more difficult to remove. Pry it out with a knife or another flat, sturdy object.

Method 3

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    Be prepared to readjust the device. If you don't apply enough pressure while you're turning the cutting wheel, you might find that the can opener stops biting into the can lid and rolls up along the surface. You'll need to reset the puncturing edge in order to get it going again. Detach the can opener from the can, then reattach it at the last point at which the lid was cut.
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    Clean the can opener thoroughly before each use. Food residue tends to build up on the parts of the can opener that come in contact with the food inside the can. These small sections, which are mainly located on the cutting edges of the tool, can be breeding grounds for bacteria.
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    Consider other methods. If you can't get the manual can opener to work, look into other ways of opening a can.[4] You can use an automatic can opener; you can use a knife, with great caution; and you may even be able to pry certain cans open with your fingernail, if you add a bit of rubbing friction.

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Categories: Tools