May 25, 2016


Canned food is one type, if not the best type, of survival food to have in your survival supplies.

Even with no refrigeration, water, special preparation, or method of cooking, you can enjoy a relatively tasty meal.

And it doesn't stop there...

There are more than 1,500 types of canned foods so you can have enough variety to keep from getting bored of the same meals.

Canned food is also easily found in any grocery store, it's inexpensive, stores compact, and has a long shelf life.

In fact, Hormel Foods specifically states their foods are "always safe to consume as long as the seal has remained intact, unbroken and securely attached."

And you don't have to just take their word for it.

In 1974, canned food brought up from the Bertrand Steamboat which sunk in 1865 was sampled by the National Food Processors Associate.

Their conclusion, there was no microbial growth and the food was as safe to eat as it had been more than 100 years earlier.

And our food preservation techniques have only improved since then.

When it comes to an emergency or survival situation, canned food can be a lifesaver.


If the shoe drops and you don't have a tin opener accessible...

Most people consider canned food useless because it's nearly impossible to open cans without the proper tool.

That's where this post comes in.

Pay close attention as I show you 4 fast and simple ways to open a can of food without a can opener.

I have also included short video demonstrations of all four methods so you can see exactly how to perform each of these techniques.

Let's begin.


If you know me at all, you know I love field expedient survival hacks that don't need obscure equipment.

If you're stuck trying to get your cans open but don't have a tin opener, it doesn't get any better than needing virtually zero equipment to get it open.

If you have access to a hard, slightly abrasive surface such as a concrete sidewalk, street, brick, or rock, with a bit of elbow grease you can have your cans open in less than 60 seconds.


The strategy behind this technique is using the abrasive surface to wear down and loosen the top seal on the can.

To open cans like this, all you need is a firm grip and a little bit of muscle.

First, place the can top down onto a hard, abrasive, surface such as a concrete sidewalk or brick.

Next, place your hand over the bottom of the can. Using slight downward pressure, quickly rub the top of the can back and forth like you're scrubbing a cast iron pan.

Once the top of the can begins to loosen, you may see liquid start to emerge around the edges or small breaks in the seal.

At that point, you're ready to open the can.


The next step is removing the can’s lid so you can enjoy the food inside.

If you have a pair of gloves handy, they can be useful to ensure you don't cut yourself on this step. But so long as you're careful, they're not required.

Holding the can right-side-up, carefully squeeze the sides of the can about one inch below the top.

If the lid doesn't pop off immediately, rotate the can and squeeze from a different side.

You may need to do this all the way around the can until the top breaks free.


Once you've popped the top of the can’s lid, discard and enjoy your food.

That's it. One of the easiest and most effective techniques to open canned foods without any tools.


Whether it's the titanium spoon from your bug out bag, or a regular old metal spoon from your kitchen drawer, spoons are one of most common items you should have no trouble locating in an emergency.

Once you've gotten your hands on a metal spoon, with just a little bit of friction on the top of the can, you will have your can open in no time.


Once you've gathered a can of food and a metal spoon, place your can right-side-up on a hard flat surface such as a table, bench, or even the ground.

Next, hold the spoon in one hand like you would hold a hammer with the "bowl" of the spoon closest to your pinky finger. With the other hand, firmly hold the can in place.

On the top of the can, there is a raised lip around the sharp edge where the manufacturer sealed the can.

Position the tip of the spoon against the edge of this lip with the bowl of the spoon facing outward from the can. Move your hand quickly back and forth over a small area at the crimped edge.

The friction from the spoon will eventually weaken and break through the top of the lid.


Once you have broken through the seal of the can, continue the same process around the lid of the can.

Fortunately, because you have already broken through the seal, it only gets easier from here.

Rotate the can slightly so you can rub the spot right next to the first area you broke through.

Repeat the process of breaking through the seal making your hole in the can slightly bigger around the edge each time.


Once you have loosened the lid around the majority of the can, use your spoon to peel it back and access the food in the can.

At that point, you're ready to eat!


This method of opening a can without a can opener is rather intuitive.

All you need is an object such as a pocket knife, kitchen knife, screw driver, metal file or similarly shaped tool combined with a little bit of muscle.

If you have a hammer or other tool you can use to baton the top of your tool of choice, it can make this even easier.


Like any of my favorite field expedient techniques, the tools you need for this one are common items that can be easily located.

In this case, you have nearly an endless supply of options.

Whether you use your pocket knife, the knife from your titanium cutlery set, a regular old household butter knife, flat screw driver, chisel, or putty knife, you just need to find one of these items or a similar tool. You just need something durable (preferably metal) with a narrow tip suitable for driving through the top of the can.

If you can also get your hands on a hammer, large rock, or sturdy piece of wood, it can be a bit easier to puncture the top of the can.


Once you have located your tools, it's time to crack open your can.

First, place your can right-side-up on a hard surface such as the ground, tabletop, or work bench.

Next, hold your tool so the tip is pointing down into the can on the top along the edge where the can was sealed.

Using either your free hand or hammering device, lightly strike the top of the tool until it punctures through the top of the can.

Now you know how to get inside.


Just like you would open a can using the manual can opener on your multi-tool, rotate the can slightly and continue puncturing through the lid in the can around the edge.

Once you have rounded far enough around the lid, use the tip of your tool to peel back the top and access your food.


If you can get your hands on a chef's knife in an emergency situation, it could be one of the most valuable tools to hang on to.

To ensure the knife stays in good condition and to keep from dulling the blade, this method of opening a can is easier on your knife than what I covered in Method #3 above.

For this technique, you will use the heel of the chef's knife rather than the tip to puncture through the top of the can around the edge.


If you're going to use this technique in a survival situation, the first place to look for a chef's knife is the kitchen.

Don't own one yourself? Whether it's from a neighbor, school, store, or corporate office, chef's knives are extremely common and you shouldn't have any trouble getting your hands on one.

Once you have your knife, place the can right-side-up on a hard surface such as a table or counter-top.

Next, hold your knife as you would to use it for cutting food while using your other hand to steady the can in place.

Place the heel of the knife along the top edge of the can where the can was crimped and press down firmly until you puncture the top of the can.

If you're at all worried about slipping or having trouble remaining steady, rather than risking injury just use Method #3 and drive the blade down through the lid.


Just like with a manual can opener, you need to continue puncturing through the top of the lid all the way around the top.

Rotate the can slightly each time after you puncture it and repeat Step #1 of driving the heel of the knife through the lid.

Once you have broken the seal around most of the lid, use the tip of the knife to peel back the top of the can so you can access the contents inside.


Canned food is without a doubt one of the best assets you can have in your survival supplies.

And yet, without one simple tool most people would be stuck in a survival situation.

That's why learning alternate techniques and how to be resourceful in a survival situation is so important.

And why I'm so committed to sharing the most effective techniques I know with you.

In this post, I've shown you four different ways to open a can without a traditional can opener. Try to master one or two of these techniques, particularly Method #1 which doesn't require any tools.

Once you're comfortable, try the other techniques so you have a well-rounded skill set.

If you know of any other methods to open a can without a can opener or tips that you'd like to share, I'd be really interested to hear about them. Just leave me a comment below.

About the Author

Kevin is the co-founder of Go Time Gear.

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