How to open a jar with a little elbow grease - and some great tools


How to loosen the lid of a jar and get it open

How to loosen the lid of a jar and get it open
Approach 1: A few solid smacks on the bottom

There are several ways to break a jar's vacuum seal, the easiest of which is simply to give it a few smacks on the bottom.

  1. Firmly grip the jar in one hand with the bottom your opposing palm, the lid more of less horizontal to the ground or slightly angled downward.
  2. While holding the jar still, hit the bottom firmly with an open palm three or four times.
  3. Try again to open the lid (Pro tip: Make sure the jar is no longer tilted downward).

The contents of the jar should have hammered against the lid, lifting it ever so slightly and breaking the vacuum hold. If that didn't work and the jar is still tightly sealed, turn to our next trick.

Approach 2: A few whacks on the lid

For this approach, you'll need a butter knife, spoon, fork, or other metal utensil with a decent heft to it.

  1. Hold the jar firmly in one hand (I recommend your non-dominant hand) and the metal utensil in the other.
  2. Using a blunt surface of the utensil (the backside of the knife), tap the jar lid at three or four different spots (think 12, 3, 6, and 9 on a clock face) right on its 90º corner.
  3. Try to remove the lid — the seal should now be broken and it should release easily.
Approach 3: Turn up the heat

So the lid is still stuck? Time to get things hot.

  1. Hold the lid sideways under hot running water for 10 or 15 seconds, rotating it slowly to achieve an even warming (alternately, you can use a hair dryer to warm the lid).
  2. Try to open the jar.

The heat should have the double effect of breaking the vacuum seal and of loosening any foodstuffs holding the lid fast, so by now, your jar should open right up. But if it didn't, or if you want to forgo the vacuum-breaking attempts, you can turn right to a jar-opening tool, which come in all sorts of different shapes and forms.

Approach 4: Use a jar key

A jar key is a tool that hooks under the lid and physically separates it from the jar, the small separation created being enough to break the seal. They are easy to use and reliable, but issue is that the jar may not re-close as well. We recommend the Brix JarKey Opener for the job.

  1. Insert the jar key between the jar and lid and lift upward gently, breaking the seal.
Buy two Brix JarKey Openers on Amazon for $11.99

How to open a jar with the best tools

How to open a jar with the best tools

Often, the difficulty of opening a jar isn't about your actual hand or arm strength, it's just about getting a proper grip on the lid, especially a jar lid that's smooth and wide.

To get a better grip, you need to increase friction. And to do that, a simple rubber jar gripper pad will do the trick nicely.

A four-pack of Regent Round Multi-Purpose Jar Grippers costs only $5.99, so go ahead and make the investment.

Jar grippers let you increase your leverage by squeezing onto the lid while your hand grips the tool several inches away from the jar itself. The added force should be enough to turn even stubborn lids. You can also try the GXONE Jar Opener for added grip. It has multiple jar sizes so you can open any jar easily.

To get a better grip and more torque, you can try a $11.95 Kichwit Jar Opener, which uses a single rotating motion to secure steel grips around the lid and then help you twist it off.

If you open lots of jars, consider a $15.99 EZ Off Jar Opener that affixes permanently underneath a cabinet and that holds the lid firmly in place with a series of little teeth, allowing you to twist the jar with maximum muscle applied, even using two hands if needed.

Finally, you can take all the effort out and go completely hands-free, turning to an automated jar opener like the $36.79 Hamilton Beach Open Ease Automatic Jar Opener.

And if you still can't get that stubborn jar open, throw it in the trash and order a pizza.

Buy a 4-pack of Regent Round Multi-Purpose Jar Grippers on Amazon for $5.99 Buy the GXONE Jar Opener on Amazon for $10.98 Buy the Kichwit Jar Opener on Amazon for $11.95 Buy the EZ Off Jar Opener on Amazon for $15.99 Buy the Hamilton Beach Open Ease Automatic Jar Opener on Amazon for $36.79