The Easiest Way To Open A Can Without A Can Opener

Imagine you find yourself alone, in a basement, after the zombie apocalypse finally hits. Lucky you, this basement was stocked by a doomsday prepper (guess he wasn't such a loony after all!), and there's all the canned food you're ever going to need from now until, well, doomsday. But wait — the prepper forgot one crucial thing — there's no can opener! You'll have plenty of time to appreciate the irony as you slowly starve to death while surrounded by all that food.

While this scenario is a favorite fictional trope, played out in sources as diverse as science fiction stories, comic strips, and even episodes of Looney Tunes and South Park, in reality, the situation holds a lot less terror than you might think. For one thing, many canned foods these days come with ring pulls, eliminating the need for a can opener altogether. Even if your basement-stocking prepper had a preference for good old fashioned non-pull tab canned goods, however, there's still a fairly easy way you can open a can with no opener using another kitchen utensil: a simple spoon. After all, not even a zombie would eat pork and beans with its fingers.

How to use a spoon as a substitute can opener

While Country Living magazine supplies several can opener-free methods of prying open aluminum cans, they recommend the spoon method as being the easiest and safest, although admitting it does require some "brute force." The method they describe involves gripping the spoon handle with four of your fingers while resting your pinky in the spoon bowl for stabilization. Once you've got your spoon firmly in your grasp this way, rub it vigorously along the crimped edge of the can until you wear a hole in the metal — it should be fairly thin at the joint. Once you've got a hole that's big enough, insert the spoon and use it to pry the lid up as far as you can and then scoop out the can's contents. If you find yourself without a spoon, you can also utilize this same method with a screwdriver, a pocket knife, or a fork. 

Other ways you can open cans without a can opener

If you're more of a Crocodile Dundee type, there's a can opening method involving a slightly different technique that calls for using a big knife. Take that knife and use it to puncture a big hole in the lid around the can's rim, then repeat the process until that lid is entirely detached and you're good to go — kind of like using an old-fashioned church key bottle opener, only this is way more macho.

Perhaps the most low-tech method of opening a can requires nothing more than a rough surface like a rock, a brick, or even a patch of asphalt. Rub the top of the can against this rough surface repeatedly, and eventually, the rim will be sanded down to the point where its seal is broken.

How to stay safe while you're opening those cans

All of these different methods of opening cans could be somewhat dangerous should your utensil slip, be it a spoon, fork, knife, or brick. Even if you're rubbing your can lid along the floor of your concrete bunker, it could still fly up out of your hand. Oh sure, if you're desperately trying to break into the last can of Vienna sausages left on the planet, you might think you've got bigger things to worry about, but it won't help your chances for survival if you manage to put an eye out. It's recommended that you wear some sort of safety goggles or a face shield when opening cans via these methods. Even a gas mask should do, and you'll surely have one of those with you, as they seem to be de rigueur in post-apocalyptic fashion.

Perhaps the best thing to do, however, should you expect an imminent apocalypse, is to take a tip that's been slightly modified from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy — instead of carrying a towel wherever you go, instead, try packing your own personal can opener. Sure, it might get you some weird looks, but as any Boy Scout can tell you, it's always best to be prepared.