The Top 6 Items That Can Be Used In Place Of A Can Opener To Open Your Canned Goods

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Canned food is a camping staple. Can openers are a cheap and reliable way to open up cans without a pull-top opener. On a recent camping trip, we learned we had accidentally left the can opener back home. So we had to improvise opening the cans using a knife.

And this inspired us to write this article. Please be careful. Place the cans on a stable surface, wear work gloves, and keep your fingers out of the way.

1 - Pocket Knives Or Survival Knives

For this method, you can use any knife within reason. To open your can with a knife you’ll need to first place it on top of a sturdy surface. Next, hold the knife with a reversed grip while ensuring that the blade is pressed against the inner edge of your lid. However, it is advised that you only use knives with sharp edges and tips to avoid injuries from duller ones.

Using your free hand, use the pommel of your knife and forcefully pound it into the top. If for some reason you’re having difficulty, you can use a hammer, a rock, or the next item you see that can be used to hit the knife hard enough. However, be careful so that you don’t damage the knife or your hands in the process.

If you were successful, you’ll need to now reposition your knife and repeat the previous steps so that you can make punctures around the entire lid. When this is complete, you can easily pry your loose lid off. Keep in mind that the edges are sharp and you should not use your hands to open them.

2 - A Spoon

If the word spoon threw you into a state of confusion, we’ll clear that up in a minute. To open your can with a spoon you’ll need to ensure that your spoon was robustly made from metal and when we say spoon we mean an actual spoon and not a spork. To begin, you’ll need to ensure that your can is placed on a sturdy surface.

Next, you’ll need to grasp the spoon as firmly as you can with the tip at the edge of the lid. In doing so, you’ll also need to see to it that the bowl of our spoon is facing the center of your can. As you hold the spoon against the lid, start rocking the back and forth as if you’re sawing into something.

After a bit, the continuous sawing motion should soon penetrate the lid of your can. By using a continuous back-and-forth motion, the applied pressure will puncture the lid. When the lid is finally pierced, you can now continue to saw until you’re able to remove the lid by prying under it with the spoon.

As you push against the lid, you’ll be able to soon retrieve the contents of your can. However, it’s best to keep in mind that the edges are still extremely sharp, so be very careful.

3 - A Chef's Knife

If you managed to pack a chef’s knife for your camping trip, you’ll soon be on your way to opening up that can. However, you mustn’t use it in the same way that you’ll do with smaller knives. Chef’s knives are much sharper but they are very flexible and thin.

To open your can using a chef’s knife, you’ll need to use the heel of the knife as opposed to the tip. However, exercise as much caution as you can to prevent yourself from becoming injured. Place your can on a leveled surface as you grasp the knife with a firm hand.

Be sure to keep the blade facing in the opposite direction from yourself. By resting your thumb at the side, you’ll be able to avoid having your thumb cut in the process. It should be noted that this method, shouldn’t be used with any other type of knife since the blade’s weight is crucial in the process.

As the can stays on the leveled surface, you’ll need to position the heel on the lid and forcefully pressing it down. This allows you to pierce a spot on the lid. In order to get the can opened, you’ll need to repeat the process until you complete the entire circumference.

By the time you get to the other side of the lid, it would be very easy to pop off. If for some reason you become tempted to reverse the blade and cut into the can, please rethink your decision. There’s a high possibility that unopened areas exist on the lid and by cutting into it you run the risk of breaking the tip and damaging yourself.

When most of the lid has been carefully punctured, it’s finally time to pry it off. Be sure to place the blade of your chef knife under the lid and pull in an upward manner to remove the lid. Keep in mind that you should never use your bare hands to remove these lids.

4 - Rough Rock

If you planned your camping trip on the spot and forgot a couple of the essentials, you can still open your can using a very rough rock. When you use hollow abrasive surfaces, the applied friction will work wonders to remove your lid. However, when it comes to selecting a rough rock, it’s best to get one with a really wide face.

Next, you’ll need to hold your can upside down so that you can begin to break the seal. Breaking the seal involves a scrubbing motion. So, apply some pressure and get to rubbing the rock with your can. With this method, you’ll need to continue until you begin to see some of the moisture seeping onto the rock’s face.

However, be sure to stop when you notice this to prevent rubbing through the lid of your can. Turn the can upside down and then continue to rub it as you repeatedly check for moisture. Remember, stop when you see moisture. Too much moisture could mean that you’re wasting the contents of the can.

At this stage in the opening process, the lid should be thin enough so that you can pry it off with the use of your pocket knife or any small tool that you have onsite. In some instances, the lid will become very thin and all you’ll need to do is squeeze the sides of the can with your two hands. This will make sure that the lid pops off. Don’t forget to use a cloth or gloves to open the lid.

5 - Tomahawks Or Axes C<h2an Also Be Used

In the olden days, the Native Americans may not have used their tools to open canned goods in this way. However, there’s no reason why you can’t do so if you desire. To begin, be sure to hold the can against a stable flat surface.

Now, with a form hand, grasp the tomahawk or the ax by the haft. The haft is just below the blade, so be extra careful. Using the haft, you can simply cut into the lid of your can. Using a raking but steady movement, you can easily slice into the can.

However, it’s best that you stop at least halfway or about 75% of the circumference. This allows you to easily pry the lid off using the ax or the tomahawk.

6 - Tin Snips

If there are no other tools around and all you have is tin snips, then don’t worry because you’ll be opening cans in no time. Using snips has always proven to be one of the fastest and most effective ways to open a can. The best part of this is that there’s no spillage or rather any wastage involved and you’ll never be faced with jagged edges to injure you.

To get started, use a firm grip on the snips while pacing the can on a sturdy surface. As a precaution to avoid injuries, it’s best to keep in mind that you shouldn’t hold the can with your free hand. Using the tin snips, you can easily cut into your tin at an angle on its lip.

However, you’ll need to slowly rotate as you cut into the lip. After cutting about 75% of the lip, it’s time to pry the lid off.


As we conclude, we have just looked at the top 6 items that you can use to open your canned goodies while exploring the wilderness. While it may seem odd or strange to open a can with a spoon, there’s no need to worry because, with a couple of back-and-forth motions, you’ll be on your way to having a hearty meal. However, it should be noted that extreme caution should be taken when it comes to handling your cans.

Cans should always be placed on flat sturdy surfaces unless stated otherwise. Use firm grips and keep free fingers away as needed. Opening any canned item on your trip can certainly prove to be an adventure depending on how you choose to look at it!