We’ve All Been Using Can Openers the Wrong Way

published Jul 12, 2019
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Whenever I crank open a can of beans for a super-quick dinner, I have this not-so-irrational fear that I’ll slice my fingertips open while fishing out the now-serrated can lid that’s swimming around in slimy canning juice. (I’ve remained unscathed thus far, but I’m more than certain that it’s happened to lots of people before!)

I’ve always used what I thought was the most conventional can-opening method (which I’m sure most of you use too). First, I clamp down on a hand-operated can opener with the same motion I’d use if I were using a hole punch. Then I crank until I get all the way around the circumference of the can. Once a clean cut is made, the lid usually sinks down into the contents of the can, and I then carefully perform a search-and-rescue mission for it. Let’s call it Method A.

Credit: Joe Lingeman
The WRONG way!

But I recently learned that another method exists, courtesy of this YouTube video a la Cinemagraphy, and I believe it to be far superior. You hold the can opener horizontally and clamp down on the side of the can instead of the inside of the lid. The can doesn’t bounce around as much when you make your trip around the lid, and you might not even feel like you’re doing anything at all. Behold, Method B.

Credit: Joe Lingeman
The RIGHT way!

Presenting, the moment you’ve all been waiting for: The resulting lids from Method A and Method B, respectively.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Notice that there are a few trade-offs in choosing one or the other: Method A leaves the lid jagged, which is not the safest for fishing out. Method B, however, leaves a cleanly cut lid.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Our Lifestyle Director, Lisa Freedman, stands by Method B: “The single best thing about this method is that it creates a safe edge. One of my biggest fears in life is slicing my finger open while trying to get a lid off a can of dog food (okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but it is a concern!). This creates a smooth edge and the top actually comes off ATTACHED to the can opener, so I don’t even have to touch the lid.”

As far as which method is safer, Method B has our vote. The edges of the open can are a little sharp, but you don’t have to send your fingers digging around. And once you empty out the contents of the can and give it a good rise, you can pop the lid back on and throw it in the recycling bin so that no jagged edges are exposed.

For no sharp edge risk whatsoever, though, there’s a gadget for that. OXO sells a Good Grips Smooth Edge Can Opener for $15, which eliminates the problem altogether. Not so surprisingly, the product guide recommends using Method B. B for best!

Which method will you use going forward?