How To Open A Can Without A Can Opener – Top 3 Methods

using can opener

In this article, we are going to show you how to open a can without a can opener. Hold on to the edge of your seats, its gonna be a fun ride.

Yes, you're probably wondering:

Why would you ever need to open a can without a can opener?  Can’t you just go to the store and buy a can opener?

It turns out...

In most cases that would be an option, but what if you are deep in the wilderness or it is some other survival situation and you don't have one in your gear?

open can without can opener

Canned food represents a major food source in survival cases and the readiness of can opener might not always be a sure thing.

Without the knowledge of how to deal with this situation, trying to open a can might cause severe injury.

Jagged metal or the slip of a hand on the edge of the knife is a sure way to cause injury.

In a situation where this knowledge would be vital, a severe injury can be a major setback to survival.

With that in mind...

We will look at the top 3 best ways to open a can without a can opener and detail the process step-by-step.

By the end of the article you will have added to your wilderness and survival knowledge.

Let's jump right into our first method.

Warning:  Safety is your responsibility! These methods can be dangerous and should only be attempted by an adult. Be careful when following any of these methods as there will be sharp edges. Also make sure to remove any metal shavings from your food and do not consume the metal shavings.

Disclosure:   Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, where I make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

The Spoon Method

The spoon method is beneficial because the spoon is not sharp and you do not risk your grip slipping and cutting your hand.

The drawback is you will need to find a durable metal spoon that will not break or bend easily while opening the can.

Be careful with the sharp edges of the can top.

Here are the steps:

  1. Grip the spoon around the neck and the bowl leaving the bottom edge of the bowl open to make contact with the can lid.
  2. Pick a spot on the top and inside edge of the can lid and applying medium pressure move the spoon back and forth around a 1 inch area of the lid rim. This will help weaken the metal in that area. You want your motion to be quite rigorous. Be sure the can is on a stable surface.
  3. Once you feel that area begin to weaken push down with enough force in the center of the weakened area to break through the lid. You now have an opening.
  4. Now take the spoon and, using the same grip, push down on the edge of the opening and continue around the edge of the rim.
  5. You do not have to puncture open the entire circumference of the lid. Just enough to be able to leverage the lid off with minimal resistance.
  6. To do this take the bowl of the spoon and insert it under the opening and use the spoon as a lever to remove the lid. Be cautious when removing the lid entirely. The punctured metal is extremely sharp.
  7. You now have an unspoiled, open can!

The Concrete Method

If you happen to find yourself without any type of tool that can puncture a can and you absolutely have to get to the contents inside you are still in luck!

The concrete method of opening a can utilizes scraping the lid of the can vigorously over concrete to weaken the edges around the rim and allows you to pop the top off.

The drawbacks are without being careful you can lose some of the food from the can, but if you’re in a situation where you have to use this method that probably wont be much of a concern.

Again, be careful with the sharp edges of the can top.

Here are the steps:

  1. Find a piece of concrete. The sidewalk would work or find a cinderblock that is laying around.
  2. Flip the can so the lid is facing down and press the can against the concrete.
  3. Squeeze the can slightly and while applying pressure ,rub the can lid back and forth rigorously against the concrete.
  4. To tell how close you are getting to opening the can be on the lookout for liquid beginning to appear on the concrete. This will tell you that the lid is beginning to weaken.
  5. This step is where more experience is required. If you rub for too long you can pop the top while the can is still upside down and when lifting the can the contents will spill. Your best bet is when you see liquid begin to appear remove the can and with the lid facing up, squeeze near the top. Once the edges of the lid are weakened enough it will pop right off! Be careful with the extra sharp edges.
  6. If you still cannot remove the lid, continue rubbing vigorously for several seconds and check again.
  7. You now have an opened can!

The Knife Method

The knife method for opening a can might be the quickest and most efficient way. Most outdoorsman and survivalist will always have a pocket knife handy so searching for a tool will not be necessary.

This method also has the highest possibility for injury so it is critical to use the proper technique when opening the can.

Because this method is the most dangerous, we don't recommend you using it unless there is absolutely no other choice.

If you want to learn how, there are many great tutorials on YouTube to check out. We decided its not in your or our best interest to cover the details of this method because there is a higher chance of injury.

Remember, it is a very dangerous method, you need to be careful, and if you try it you are assuming responsibility for your own safety.

Cheap Solution

If you want a great all around solution, then go with a compact can opener to include in your gear.

U.S. MADE P-51 & P-38

The P38 (smaller) or P51 (bigger) are excellent can openers that have been around for almost 75 years.

They were especially popular in World War II.

Both are light weight, compact, and can be attached to your key chain.

If you don't carry one on you for EDC, you should at least have one in your bug out bag as well as your home for survival situations.


You might find yourself in a survival situation or maybe just in kitchen prepping a meal and can’t find the can opener.

No problem though, because after reading this article on opening a can without a can opener, you are all set. When using these methods always remember to be careful.

Hopefully this article has strengthened your survival skills or maybe just provided some alternative methods to opening a can before you can run out to the store to purchase a new can opener!

Got another method or have you tried these out before? Let us know about it in the comments below.

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