How to Open a Can Without a Can Opener (2 Methods)

Posted in: Expat Hacks

open can without a can-opener

Has this ever happened to you? 

You’re hungry.

You have a can of soup (tuna, sardines, beans, etc).

But no can opener.

This happened to us when we first moved to Ecuador. We had just bought all our housewares and groceries to setup our new apartment. We were hungry but had no can opener.

Of course, this could also happen on a hike, a road trip, or even while staying in a “furnished” apartment abroad.

2 Methods to Open a Can (Without a Can Opener)

  1. Rub the lid on a piece of concrete until it wears through
  2. Puncture the lid with a spoon and then use the spoon like a can opener to remove the lid.

The video below shows both techniques in detail.

3 Steps to Open a Can on Concrete

As it turns out, the metal in the lid is very thin. And it’s a rolled seam.

  1. To open the can, just rub it against a flat piece of concrete or a flat rock. The friction will quickly wear through the seam and allow you to easily remove the lid and open the can.
  2. To know that it has worn through, watch for moisture appearing on the grinding surface.
  3. If you have a tool of some sort, you can pry it open. Otherwise, you’ll have to keep grinding until the lid comes off easily. While you’ll lose more liquid from the can, it’s less likely that you’ll get cut and lose some of your own.

If you don’t want to consume metal filings or concrete dust, just wipe the edge of the can before opening. It should remove most of the loose material.

3 Steps to Open a Can With a Spoon

  1. Grasp the spoon firmly, with the inside bowl of the spoon facing the center of the can.
  2. While applying pressure, rub the spoon back and forth against the edge of the lid. This will thin the metal and the spoon will quickly break through.
  3. Now work the spoon around the edge of the lid – as if it were a can opener.

Open a Can Without a Can Opener (Video) (Concrete and a Spoon)

Watch on YouTube

Aside from the obvious solution of bringing a can opener (or not eating canned food), how would you do this?

My first option would be the spoon: it seems much cleaner and a little more civilized. In a survival situation, both methods would definitely work. But I think on a normal day, I would just use some self control and wait until a can opener presents itself.

What about you? Would you open a can on a rock?

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Meet the Author

Bryan Haines

Bryan Haines is editor of GringosAbroad - one of the largest English language sites about Ecuador. Work with GringosAbroad. He is a travel blogger, photographer and content marketer. He is also co-founder of ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorial blog) and Storyteller Media (content marketing for travel brands).

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