Can Opener How to Use – Mastering the Art of Opening Cans

Struggling with stubborn cans? Learn the easy way to open cans with our comprehensive guide! Master different can opener types and never fight with a can again.

Can Opener How to Use

Can openers are those unsung heroes of the kitchen, silently making countless cans of food accessible. But for those unfamiliar with their operation, these handy tools can seem intimidating. Fear not! This guide will walk you through the different types of can openers and provide clear instructions for using each one.  In no time, you’ll be confidently opening cans of beans, soups, vegetables, and more, ready to whip up delicious meals or stock your pantry.

Types of Can Openers

Before diving into the nitty-gritty, let’s explore the two main types of can openers and their electric counterparts:

Manual Can Openers

These trusty tools rely on good old-fashioned human power. They come in various styles, including:

  • Standard Can Opener: The most familiar design, featuring a knob, turning mechanism, and cutting wheel.
  • Plunger Can Opener: Utilizes a sharp central spike to puncture the lid and a lever to rotate and remove it.
  • Smooth Edge Can Opener: Ideal for those concerned about leaving sharp edges on the can lid.

Electric Can Openers

Offering effortless opening, electric can openers come in two primary varieties:

  • Automatic Can Openers: Clamp onto the can and automatically cut and remove the lid with minimal user effort.
  • Semi-Automatic Can Openers: User positions the can opener, then activates the motor to cut the lid, which needs to be manually lifted off.

Knob: Provides grip and turning power.

Cutting Wheel: Pierces and rotates around the lid to cut.

Gear Mechanism: Transfers turning motion from the knob to the cutting wheel.

Lid Lifter: (Optional) Used to pry the cut lid off the can.

A Step-by-Step Guide

The manual can opener remains a kitchen staple. Here’s how to use it like a pro:

  1. Place the Can Opener: Position the can opener on the rim of the can, with the cutting wheel at the designated starting point (refer to your specific model’s instructions if needed).
  2. Turn the Knob: Begin turning the knob in a steady clockwise motion. The cutting wheel will pierce the lid and follow the can’s edge.
  3. Continue Turning: Maintain steady, even pressure while turning the knob completely around the can.
  4. Lifting the Lid: (For models with a lid lifter) Once the cutting is complete, engage the lid lifter to pry the lid off the can.
  5. Manual Lid Removal: (For models without a lid lifter) Carefully lift the can opener straight up to detach the cut lid.

Safety First! Important Precautions

  • Always keep your fingers clear of the cutting wheel while operating the can opener.
  • Dispose of the sharp lid safely, directing the cut edge downwards.
  • Consider using a model with a built-in magnet to catch the lid as it’s cut.
  • If the can opener feels damaged or dull, replace it to ensure safe and efficient use.

Electric Can Openers

Electric can openers offer a convenient alternative, especially for those with limited hand strength. Here’s a general overview of their operation:

  • Automatic Can Openers: Simply place the can opener on the rim and press the button. The device will automatically clamp, cut, and remove the lid.
  • Semi-Automatic Can Openers: Position the can opener, activate the motor to cut the lid, then manually lift the lid off.

Remember to consult your specific electric can opener’s manual for detailed instructions.

Additional Tips and Tricks

  • Lefty Friendly: Some manual can openers offer a reversible cutting wheel for left-handed users.
  • Stuck Lids: If the lid seems stuck, gently tap the can on a flat surface to loosen it. Don’t force the can opener, as this can damage both the tool and the can.
  • Alternative Methods: In a pinch, you can use a spoon or a dull knife to pry open a can lid (exercise extreme caution with sharp objects). However, this is not recommended as a regular practice due to safety concerns.

Maintaining Your Can Opener

  • Regularly wipe down your can opener with a damp cloth to remove food residue.
  • For manual can openers, occasionally apply a light coat of food-grade oil to the turning mechanism for smooth operation.
  • Refer to your specific can opener’s manual for cleaning and maintenance instructions.


Can I open a can without a can opener? 

While not recommended, there are some makeshift methods using tools like spoons or knives. However, these methods are dangerous and can cause injury. It’s always best to use a proper can opener.

What’s the difference between a standard and electric can opener?

Standard can openers are manual and require some effort to operate. Electric can openers are effortless and ideal for those with limited hand strength or dexterity.

How do I clean my can opener? 

Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific model. Generally, you can wipe down the can opener with a damp cloth and mild soap.

How do I dispose of the lid safely?

Before discarding the lid, check the inner rim for any sharp edges. You can bend the lid slightly to reduce the risk of cuts. Dispose of the lid in your recycling bin (if your local program accepts metal).

My can opener is leaving sharp edges on the lid. What can I do?

A dull cutting wheel can cause jagged edges. Consider replacing the cutting wheel on your can opener or investing in a new one.

What are the benefits of using an electric can opener?

Electric can openers are a great option for those with limited hand strength or dexterity. They are also faster and easier to use than manual can openers.

My can opener won’t cut through the lid. What’s wrong?

The can opener might be dull. Consider replacing the cutting wheel or the entire opener if it’s worn out.

What’s the best type of can opener?

The best choice depends on your needs and preferences. Manual can openers are affordable and reliable, while electric can openers are faster and easier to use.


Congratulations, you’ve become a can-opening champion! With this newfound knowledge, you can conquer any can with confidence. Now, go forth and explore the delicious world of canned foods!

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