It turns out that the first canned foods where in “hole and cap” cans or “solder dot” cans. To open one of these cans, you would stab a hole into the top with a knife and then pull the the cap off. Obviously, this method isn’t going to work well with today’s cans.
1. Cut Lid Off With Knife
This is the easiest method of opening a can without a can opener. Obviously, you’ve got to be careful that you don’t hurt yourself with the knife. You’ll also end up with a very sharp, jagged edge around the can where you can slice yourself. Pierce the can with the tip of a sharp, pointy knife: You’ll want to use something as a “hammer.” A metal cup or wooden mallet work well. Position the knife upright and then hammer the butt end of the knife gently until the tip pieces through the can. Grip the knife firmly: Choose a position on the blade or handle (depending on the type of knife) so you have good leverage. Rock the knife back and forth: This will slice the lid of the can as you move the blade around the lid.
2. Heel Of A Kitchen Knife
If you don’t have a pointy knife, it will be hard to use the method above. However, you can use the heel of a kitchen knife (the part of the blade closest to the handle). Instead of rocking the knife, you’ll be making a series of small cuts to the lid. This method can be a bit tricky to do (despite how easy it looks in the video). However, you are less likely to cut yourself.
3. Rub Can On Rock Or Concrete
Today’s cans have a seal around the lid. If you rub away this seal, you’ll be able to easily pry or pop off the lid of the can. Find an abrasive surface: A flat-but-rough stone works well. Concrete works great. Turn the can so the lid is facing downwards. Rub the can on the abrasive surface. You’ll need to use a bit of pressure on the can. Check for leakage. When a bit of liquid starts to come out, it means the seal has been broken. Remove lid. You can do this by squeezing the sides of the can until the lid pops off. Or you can pry off the lid with a knife, screwdriver, or similar tool.
This method of opening a can without a can opener surprisingly does work. However, it does require a lot of hand strength and determination. The reason for choosing a spoon is because of the curved shape. This allows you to rock the spoon back and forth on the lid, indenting the lid until it breaks. Grip the spoon firmly: You want your hand to be near the spoon part, low on the handle. Hold the spoon upright against the inner lip of the can. Rock the spoon back and forth. It should start indenting the can. You’ll need to apply a lot of pressure. Keep rocking until the spoon pierces the lid. Move the spoon and repeat. It will be easier once you’ve broken the seal. Peel back the lid: When you’ve broken through about half of the lid, you can use the spoon to pry back the lid and get at the contents.
This is technically a can opener. However, since most (young) people don’t know how to use one, I thought it was important to include instructions for it. Plus, you probably do have one of these manual can openers in your home somewhere or on your multi-tool.
6. Church Key
Again, this is technically a can opener. You probably have one on your bottle opener sitting in a drawer somewhere. Usually church keys are used for puncturing cans of condensed milk (or other liquids) to make a spout. However, by making a series of punctures, one next to the other, you can open an entire can.
7. Tin Snips
Assuming that you have tin snips handy, you’ll be able to open a can easily. Just use the tin snips to cut the lip off the lid of the can. This will break the seal and allow you to lift the lid right off.