How to use a Can Opener

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Can openers be a useful and simple kitchen tool? You may find a can opener that is completely unfamiliar, even if it is one of the top can openers. We’ve put together a guide to help you use each type of can opener. Use these care tips to open cans safely, and extend the life of your can opener.

How to use a Handheld Can Opener

Most handheld can openers have been designed for right-handed use, but left-handed openers can be found at specialty retailers.

  1. Place the can flat on your countertop.
  2. Spread the arms on the can opener. The sharp cutting wheel will be separated from the notched feeding wheel.
  3. The two wheels should be aligned. Rest the cutting wheels on top of the lid of the right-side can (with the knob facing out). Make sure that the feed wheel and cutting wheel are perpendicular and aligned with the side of the can.
  4. You should hear the cutting wheel puncturing the lid as you squeeze both arms of the can opener. The cutting wheel should puncture the lid.
  5. The knob should be turned clockwise. The feed wheel will grab the lip of the can, and the opener is going to cut through the lid. Continue turning the knob until the lid is cut around the can completely or a small portion remains uncut. The can will rotate while you cut around it.
  6. Remove the lid safely. Take care not to cut yourself with the sharp edge.

How to use a smooth edge or safety can opener.

The safety or smooth-edge can openers work like the traditional can openers, but they cut the side of cans rather than the top.

  1. Place the can flat on your countertop.
  2. The two wheels should be aligned. The notched feed wheel should be aligned at the lip of the lid and the cutting wheel at the side.
  3. Turn the knob. The knob can be located on top or side of the can opener, depending on its make. The opener will rotate naturally around the can as you open the lid.
  4. Remove the lid using the notch-lid pliers. The can opener will remove a thin metal ring. Hook the pliers underneath the lid to remove the top.

How to use an electric can opener.

  1. Connect the can opener.
  2. Position the can on the opener. Line up the can against the opening by raising the lever.
  3. The lever should be lowered and the can clamped into place. The magnet and cutting blade must be positioned on top of each other.
  4. Switch on the power. The blade should puncture through the lid, and the can opener will rotate automatically. To reduce spillage, you may want to hold the can lightly as it rotates. The lid of the can should be removed from the can once the can has completed rotating and cutting.
  5. Lift the lever while holding the can to remove it from the opener.
  6. Remove the magnet’s lid.

How to clean and maintain a can opener

After each use, wash your can opener and let it air dry completely before storing it. Consult your manual to learn how to use and maintain your particular model.

For Handheld Can Openers:

  • To clean, use a sponge and dish soap to wash all parts of the can opener (handles and gears as well as wheel/blade). Use a toothbrush or scrub brush to clean the gears and the two sides of the blade. Spread the handles on a clean, dry towel. Dry the can opener using a dishtowel. It is important to let the can opener dry completely before storing. This will prevent rust.
  • Dishwashing detergents can also dull blades, which can affect the performance of the can opener. Dishwashing detergents may also dull the blades, which will affect how well a can opener performs.
  • Remove rust and gunk from your can opener: Soak the can opener for several hours in white vinegar or apple vinegar (or even overnight if it is really rusted). Scrub the gears using a toothbrush or a small cleaning brush to remove rust and gunk. Rinse with warm water. Apply a small amount of baking soda or dish soap to the gears if any residue is left. Scrub again. Dry with a towel, and let the gears air dry before storing.
  • Apply a small amount (about a teaspoon) of mineral oil food grade to the gears with a dishcloth.

Electric Can Openers

  • To clean: Wipe with a damp, soft cloth. Then, wipe the can opener thoroughly with a dry, clean cloth.
  • Remove the piercing wheel/cutting lever if it is removable. If not, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to remove it. The piercing/cutting wheel should be washed in hot soapy water and then thoroughly dried. If the cutting wheel cannot be removed, scrub with a toothbrush that has been dipped into baking soda to remove any residue or rust. Clean with a damp, soft cloth or a wet paper towel. Then, dry the surface with a clean and dry cloth.

Can Opener Without Can Opener: How to Open Cans

Here are some tricks you can try if you’re without a can-opener.

Use a Spoon

Grab a large spoon made of stainless steel and hold it at the base (where the bowl meets the handle). With the other hand, hold the can and rub the edge of it firmly with the spoon bowl. Continue to rub the lid in a small section until it breaks. Repeat this process until the opening is large enough to remove the lid. Avoid the jagged edges of the lid to avoid cutting yourself.

Use a screwdriver and hammer.

Use a flathead screwdriver to open a can containing only liquids (like coconut milk or soup). Punch a large hole to allow the liquid to be poured out. The screwdriver should be held firmly with one hand and lined up on the can’s rim. Use the hammer on the screwdriver’s handle with your other hand to make a small hole in the metal.

Use a Pocketknife and Box Cutter

Use this method with caution! Use a box cutter or pocket knife to cut the top of the can. Then, work around the edges until you are able to pry the can open.

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