All it takes is a metal spoon and some elbow grease.

Picture this: you've just gotten back to the cabin that you're renting with your friends after a full day of skiing on the slopes. Chill-ridden and ready for your favorite can of soup, you search high and low in every cabinet for a can opener but to no avail. You're left wondering: "How do you open a can without a can opener?" Although takeout may start to sound like an inevitable option, there are several ways to open a can without a can opener. Should you ever find yourself in such a tricky (and hungry) situation, here's a little tutorial for you to brush up on some survival skills. While it's possible to open a can with a rough surface or a pocketknife in a pinch, we'd rather involve fewer sharp edges. We've found a safe, easy solution to opening a can without a can opener. So instead of trying to pry the can open with a knife, consider using another common tool that can be found in your cutlery drawer.

The secret weapon? A metal spoon.

That's right: You can open a can with only a metal spoon. Even if you find yourself without a can opener, you likely have a metal spoon in your kitchen. This simple hack is fool-proof. It may sound ludicrous, but with a little friction, the metal of the spoon thins and cuts through the metal of the can lid. It's crucial to use a metal spoon for this trick: plastic just won't work.

Even with the proper tools, opening a can is often quite perilous—the aluminum lid is deceptively sharp and, if you're not careful, can easily incur deep cuts. That danger only multiplies when you don't have a helpful can opener to keep your hands at a safe distance from the can's razor-sharp lid. Although a metal spoon poses less of a threat than a sharpened knife, it's still important to handle the can with care, as the lid is still quite sharp.

How To Open a Can With a Metal Spoon

  1. Set the can down on a steady table or countertop, holding it firmly in place.
  2. Use your other hand to hold the spoon at a 90-degree angle over the can, with the bowl of the spoon towards the bottom. Position the tip of the spoon against the inner lid of the can, with the inside of the bowl of the spoon facing in. Set the spoon in the groove on the lip of the can where the lid meets the rim.
  3. Rub the tip of the spoon on the lip of the can, working back and forth over a small area until the friction thins the metal and the spoon rubs through the lid. Move on to another small area until you've rubbed the spoon through the metal all around the rim of the can. Once you've circled the entire can, the lid should be loose.
  4. Dig the spoon under the lid and use the spoon to pry the lid upwards. Be careful not to touch the edge of the lid with your finger, as it will be very sharp. Use a towel to protect your hand and dispose of the lid.

Although we prefer the safest methods available to us in these situations, we realize that sometimes a metal spoon might not be handy. Here are two more backup ways to open a can without a can opener.

How to Open a Can with a Pocketknife

Say the situation is even more drastic, and you're on a hike with no metal spoon, but you have your trusty pocketknife, don't fret, you'll still be able to enjoy that can of soup you packed. Although this method is definitely more perilous than opening a can with a metal spoon, desperate times call for desperate measures. Hold the can steady in your hand on a flat surface and poke the tip of the knife through the top of the can. Continue poking holes around the edge of the can top until you are able to pry the top from the can.

How to Open a Can with a Rough Surface

A can opener, metal spoon, and pocketknife all out of the question? While it may appear that you'll have to survive off the granola bars you packed for the rest of your camping trip, you're not totally out of luck. There's one more way to open a can without a can opener that takes a whole lot of brute force and patience.

Find a rough surface, like a rock or a slab of concrete, and use that surface to sand down the ridge of the can until it breaks the seal on the top. Be sure to rotate the can so that you're evenly sanding down the top and have an extra t-shirt or sweat rag ready to catch and clean off the top when it finally pops. Squeezing the sides of the can every so often also helps put pressure on the top seal. Once there's moisture on your make-shift sander, you've struck (liquid) gold and the can's seal should be open.

Voilà! You've accomplished the impossible—you've opened a can without a can opener. While we may not be tossing away our can openers, these handy tricks will work in times of dire need. Show off these serious survival skills on your next camping trip, or when Nana can't seem to find her can opener but absolutely needs that canned cream-of-mushroom soup for her Thanksgiving Green Bean Casserole.