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

If you find yourself with a hankering for soup but can’t seem to find your can opener, don’t worry. There is still a way to open up that can (without accidentally injuring yourself in the process). While it’s possible to open a can with a pocketknife or a chef’s knife 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.

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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.

And 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, this handy trick 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.

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