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Do you know how to open a can without a can opener? It’s probably not a life-saving skill, but it’s always good to have a couple of aces up your sleeve. Picture this scenario: You’re camping and you have a bunch of canned food for your family and friends. After an exhausting walk in the woods, you’re back at the camp to enjoy dinner. You have prepared a couple of delicious canned food recipes. Alas, you have forgotten to pack a can opener!

If you have ever experienced it, you know how annoying it is. Actually, I get pretty frustrated when I can’t find a can opener at home. Even if you’re not a meticulous person who doesn’t forget things, there are different scenarios where it won’t be your fault. I can think of a couple of disaster situations where you may lack a decent tool to open your cans.

It Is Easier Than You Think

While tin cans may appear to be sturdy, they are much easier to open than you think. I have often emphasized the significance of resourcefulness in survival situations. So, you probably have your multitool or a Swiss Army knife packed in a bag out bag, and you are prepared to improvise if need be. However, whatever the possible adversity, someone has probably faced it before. And by virtue of the internet, you can see improvised solutions when plan A can’t work.

Back to our mission, there are probably dozens of ways to open a can without a can opener. But we’re only going to cover four that really work every single time!

4 Easy Ways How to Open a Can Without a Can Opener

Method #1: How to Open a Can With a Spoon

Our secret weapon #1 is a simple metal spoon. This is my favorite method because the spoon doesn’t appear to be a versatile tool. Also, it is not sharp, so it’s pretty safe. But, let’s get to the point. Science says that if you don’t have a sharp object, friction is your best bet. This is how it works.

Hold a can steady with one hand. Take the spoon and hold it vertically and perpendicular to the can. Position the tip of the spoon in the groove where you would typically puncture with a can opener. Now, rub the spoon back and forth while applying some pressure. You won’t cut through immediately, but soon enough the friction will thin and eventually puncture the lid. The toughest part is over.

Pressing the spoon into the hole will make it wider. With a little bit of prying and pushing sideways, you’ll be able to work your way around the edge of the can. Once the opening is large enough, you can pry it open. Some lids are stronger than others. For tougher ones, you may have to repeat a rubbing process a couple of times.

And there you go! You have opened a can with a spoon. It will work each and every time. You just need to use a metal spoon. A plastic or wooden spoon can’t do it.

Method #2: How to Open a Can With a Fork

how to open a can without can opener

A fork can do the job as well. The toughest part of a can opening process is to create an initial hole. With a fork, you can use one prong to puncture the lid. The other three prongs will provide stability so you can apply enough force to push through without slipping. If the prong of your fork is strong, you’ll be able to proceed and cut through the edge of the lid.

It is a similar motion as if you’re using a can opener or a spoon. However, if the prong bends, keep piercing holes close to each other to make it easier to cut it open.

Chances are you will distort and destroy the fork in the process. That’s why I prefer a spoon. But, you have to do with what you’ve got.

Method #3: Open a Can With a Rock or Concrete

Now, this sounds impossible and silly. But, it works like a charm!

When you don’t have any tools, you just need a relatively flat rock or concrete slab with a rough surface. Turn your can upside down and rub it against the surface of the rock. The rock will emulate a file and it will file down the edge of the lid. As soon as you see the moisture seeping out, it’s done. You can use anything to pry the lid open.

Method #4: Open a Can With Any Sharp Tool

A chef’s knife, scissors, survival knife, screwdriver, or any sharp pointy object can help you to open a can. It’s the same principle: use a sharp point to pierce the first hole and then keep tearing the metal with up and down sideways motions. 

A chef’s knife can do it quickly and easily. Use the heel (the widest part of the blade) of the knife to avoid damaging the tip. This way, you can create a lever and open a can in no time.

Final Thoughts

There’s a solution to every problem. While opening cans with improvised tools and clever techniques is not really an important bushcraft skill, it is cool to know. Although it is pretty easy, you should still be very careful. A jagged lid can be very sharp. So, stay smart and safe. In my opinion, the best method is the safest one

Now you can enjoy your peas or tuna even if you lose your can opener!