Published On: Wed, Feb 28th, 2018

Smarter ways to open a stuck jar lid

Few kitchen complications plague the single person more than a stuck jar lid.

It’s a rule universally known, that no matter how tight the lid, a second person will always be able to pop the top, and mock “you loosened it.” But without a partner to tempt the sarcasm fates, you may instead find yourself tempted instead to just to smash the jar to pieces and spoon out the contents from shards of glass.

I’m surprised I didn’t resort to that dangerous method with a jar of red beets that until this week was left unopened for two years.

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I bought the jar at a Yonge St. grocer that has since closed and I’ve never had such difficulty twisting a lid off in my life. The vacuum seal was among the strongest I had ever felt that I thought I might snap my wrist.

Though the best-before date has long past, I have finally opened the jar as part of this life hack mission.

We’ve all heard the jar-opening tricks of fastening an elastic band around the lid, a rubber cleaning glove or, better yet, inventions such as silicone grips and the electric assistant RoboTwist. But none of those methods worked for me (though admittedly I have not tried the robot).

When you’re stuck without rubber gloves, handy infomercial gadgets or a significant other to call, are there other items that can do the trick? We scoured kitchen advice blogs for a few of the most oft-cited strategies.

Test 1: Spoon

The Test: Using a wooden spoon, hit the top of the lid around the edges. This action will hopefully hit some air pockets or dislodge food that has crusted the lid closed.

The Result: If you are someone who struggles opening jars, this is a solid stress reliever but not necessarily a great jar opener if you’re dealing with a particularly stubborn one.

The Rating: 5/10

Test 2: Hot water bath

The Test: Fill a bowl with hot water and tip the jar over to soak only the lid (not the whole jar) in the water for 30 seconds. Dry the lid and try to open the jar.

The Result: I didn’t believe this one would work, but the lid popped off easily after a couple rounds in the water. Science says that metal conducts more heat than the glass, so the lid expands more than the jar itself, loosening its grip.

The Rating: 8/10

Test 3: Bottle opener

The Test: Using a bottle opener, pry one part of the lid away from the jar to pop the vacuum seal. Alternatively, use the mouth of a spoon to pry the lid away form the jar.

The Result: We’d be wrong to ignore this tool simply because it’s called a bottle opener and not a jar opener. It works both ways. A simple flat opener might not do the trick, so opt for one with a sharper lever like those attached to a wine bottle opener.

The Rating: 9/10


Don’t let a jar go to waste like I did without trying any of these methods. The impatient will appreciate the quick efficiency of the bottle-opener technique, while others may opt for the stress-relieving thrill of whacking the jar with a spoon even if it doesn’t work as well. But rest assured that singledom need not leave with you unopened jars.

Jonathan Forani is a Toronto-based freelance journalist in search of ways to make everything a little easier. Still looking for a life hack to six-pack abs.

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Smarter ways to open a stuck jar lid