This Is The Best Way To Open A Jar, According To Science

No matter how skilled you are, no matter how smart you may think you are, no matter what you do in life, we all share one common problem. Why the heck is it so hard to open a jar? Finding yourself bested by a jar of pickles or jam can create self-esteem issues, rage, and even a bit of shame. You'd think you'd have to be Superman to open it.

There is, however, good news. First off, if you've ever lost a fight with a Mason jar, you're not alone. A February 2020 study shows that 50% of consumers struggle to open jars (via Globe Newswire). Second, there's more than one way to open a jar, and none of those ways require the use of power tools or extreme force.

For example, you can run that stubborn jar under a stream of hot water, which will help loosen the lid. This is due to the process of thermal expansion, which causes the lid to loosen as it comes into contact with hot water. If you're handy — and most importantly, careful — with a blade, you can use a butter knife to jimmy the lid loose (per Instructables). But if you don't want to risk burning or otherwise harming yourself, there's one very simple solution you can do to make that sealed lid pop off.

Give the bottom of the jar a good whack

Now, here's what you're going to want to do. Stay with us here. Take the jar, turn it upside-down in your hand, and give the bottom of it a quick couple of whacks with your palm. The lid should be able to twist off a bit easier now.

Wait a second, you may be saying. That's it? How did smacking the bottom of the jar accomplish anything? The reason has to do with the vacuum seal around the jar's lid. According to MadSci Network, this is because that sudden whack to the bottom of the jar forced its contents to the top, thus putting pressure on the lid the same way a crowd of people presses against a door. Food Network also notes that giving the jar a "pat on the bottom" helps to break the vacuum seal, allowing you to open the jar with less force. It's not about brute force, but instead knowing where the key points of a jar are.

If you're unsure about this method, or you worry you'll look like some kind of caveman savagely whacking the jar, America's Test Kitchen has plenty of other methods that can help. For example, putting plastic wrap between the lid and your hand can help you get a better grip on it. Redditors, on the other hand, suggest using a bottle opener to break the jar's seal. With these tricks, stubborn sauce jars will be thing of the past.

How to get a better grip

Some of the most common struggles when attempting to open a jar involve our grip. But according to VacuumSaver, there are plenty of good ways to get a grip on whatever stubborn jar is plaguing you. 

You can use a rubber glove — one of those big ones with the raised bumps all over the palm — to hold the jar in place and better grasp the lid so it doesn't slip out of your hand. You can also place a large rubber band fitted snugly around the lid to help ensure a stronger grip, as well as put some downward pressure on the sealed lid. In a pinch, a damp sponge can also provide some traction.

If you don't feel like slapping on some rubber gloves or a rubber band every time you want to open a jar, you can buy a special jar opening tool that can help you open multiple kinds of jars and "a variety of jar sizes," from sauces to pickles (per Better Homes & Gardens).

Making a homemade jar opener

While a tool that can open jars for you sounds pretty useful, let's say you don't want to shell out the money just for one little pair of grips. Why should you spend money on something like that, you reason, when you can probably make one at home for free? 

According to Happiest Camper, making a do-it-yourself jar opener is easy and requires few materials. All that's really needed, the bloggers explain, is some rubber shelf liner, a small magnet, and your choice of fabric. Simply cut your fabric and shelf liner into squares (they recommend 7x7-inch) squares, layering the shelf liner between two pieces of fabric. Sew both pieces of fabric together, leaving a 5-inch gap on one side. Then, turn the newly-formed pocket inside out until the shelf liner interior is now the exterior, slipping the magnet between the fabric layers before sewing the pocket shut. This gives you one side with cloth and another side with a rubber grip.

In case you're more interested in something a little on the rustic side, Lumberjocks offers step-by-step instructions for constructing a circular wooden jar opener that can be mounted under cabinets. This uses a set of saw blades built into the jar opener to secure the lid and helps you unscrew the jar from the lid without overexerting yourself.