Tricks for opening very tight jars

58

11

What are some tricks for opening seemingly impossible-to-open glass jars, like the one pictured below?

jars

ATTEMPT: I have tried twisting as hard as I can, but clearly that hasn't worked so far. I have also tried twisting with a shirt to improve my grip. And I've tried using a knife to loosen the lid, but that also rarely helps.

JSW189

Posted 2014-12-09T23:07:06.030

Reputation: 2 715

A lot of these answers are the same, but there is one bit of physics that comes into play that I didn't really seem mentioned (although I may have missed it): The longer the tool used to twist the lid, the easier it will be. Leverage will be your friend when applying rotational force to the lid. – Broots Waymb – 2016-05-16T20:01:53.420

14longterm lifehack: get stronger hands – TylerH – 2014-12-22T21:23:22.717

17also longterm lifehack: get a boyfriend :D – Sarge Borsch – 2015-01-04T14:24:17.153

7Think of it as a dieting strategy. – Tyler Durden – 2015-04-27T20:34:55.390

Answers

46

Usually jars with stiff lids are fresh from the store and have been packed with the contents under lower pressure than the outside air i.e a vacuum. This pressure difference can increase the resistance presented by the thread and can make opening a jar for the first time difficult.

This approach that can be taken if a little damage to the lid is acceptable and requires only tools that are readily available in most kitchens.

  1. Take a small tool like a butter knife or spoon.
  2. Tilt the jar so that the seam between the jar and the lid is accessible.
  3. Insert the tip of the tool into the seam.
  4. Gently leaver the tool until it lifts the lid back from the jar, breaking the seal and allowing the pressure to equalize.
  5. Now that the seal has been released it should be easy to twist the lid off normally.

With a little practice and a light touch it is possible to release the seal without permanently changing the shape of the lid. I am happy enough keeping any food remaining in these jars if refrigerated but would avoid reusing the jar for projects with sterile requirements like making jam or preserves.

Kelly Thomas

Posted 2014-12-09T23:07:06.030

Reputation: 833

If you don't want to damage the lid, just spend five bucks on a jar opener. – Captain Obvious – 2015-06-14T07:18:03.650

This doesn't damage the lid in any way and it's my preffered method. – Tomáš Zato – 2016-03-09T09:51:49.683

9the vacuum can also happen if the content of the jar was warm when the glass was closed and has shrunk by cooling down since. – Vogel612 – 2014-12-10T10:34:54.533

40

  • You can wear rubber gloves and open it; usually, the extra grip helps.
  • Run hot water over the lid. The heat will make the lid expand temporarily and it'll be easier to open.
  • Put the lid on hot water (works as the above method)
  • Hold the jar horizontally and slap the lid

Shevliaskovic

Posted 2014-12-09T23:07:06.030

Reputation: 2 152

1Rubber gloves - always at hand, easily the best solution and doesn't involve ruining spoons whilst you try to pry open the lid, or stabbing yourself because you bent the spoon and tried with a knife instead – icc97 – 2016-01-21T12:09:42.810

1The heat from hot water expands the air inside the jar relieving the amount of negative pressure inside the jar. Hot water may additionally help to loosen any sticky material inside the jar lid from the canning process. Enough heat to expand the metal lid would be difficult to handle. – Stan – 2016-05-09T00:21:27.577

Get two pieces of rubber, e.g. two ends of a rubber glove. Use one to grasp the glass of the jar. Use the other to grasp the lid and twist it. The idea is that the high friction stops any slipping, so make sure both parts of the jar are dry and clean first. – h34 – 2014-12-27T20:35:58.857

17

First, make sure the jar (and lid) are clean. A dusty jar can make it hard to maintain a firm grip. Then make sure your hands are clean, for the same reason.

If your hands are too dry, you may also struggle to maintain a firm grip. That said, you don't want them to be wet (or covered in grease / lotion / corn husker's friend) either - if rubbing your hands together feels rough, cup them and breathe into them - the moisture in your breath should suffice to let your skin grip the (clean) surface.

Make sure you're not using your wrists to break the seal. That's a good way to hurt your wrists, but a bad way to put any real force on the lid. Keep your wrists straight and use your arms to apply force to the jar and lid.

Finally, if you find that your hands are too weak to grip the lid firmly, invest in a couple of cheap hand grips.

William the Pleaser

Posted 2014-12-09T23:07:06.030

Reputation: 2 284

16

You can easily open tight jars lid with duct tape. DYI . I have personally tested and worked in first attempt itself.

TIP: Place the jar on flat surface and hold if it contains liquid.

enter image description here

Here are the 11 summarized ways to open the tight jars lid.

Joachin Joseph

Posted 2014-12-09T23:07:06.030

Reputation: 4 132

10

Use a small square of damp neoprene (or rubber) to grip the lid.

Knocking or tapping the lid on the worktop while turning it can help unstick really tightly sealed lids.

Rory Alsop

Posted 2014-12-09T23:07:06.030

Reputation: 946

A friend uses a square of an inner tube of a truck tire, the family have done that for two generations, the third starting with it now. – Willeke – 2017-05-28T18:52:46.330

Tapping strongly with 2,3 fingers works every time. – Ejaz – 2015-04-29T19:51:07.007

9

You can open a jar by first putting a rubber band around the lid:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sMTUnsbZelI

More info on this other Lifehacker site.

Wikis

Posted 2014-12-09T23:07:06.030

Reputation: 191

1This is very useful for some jars with glues or brush-on components that tend to cause the lid to stick every time it's been used. You just leave the rubber band on for future uses. – Flint – 2017-10-04T08:46:45.597

7

Put a spoon under the lip of the lid, and lever it up a bit (you're not popping off the lid, just depressurizing the vacuum). You'll be able to unscrew the lid now.

My grandmother originally taught me this trick but I found a step by step guide (along with a photo) on Lifehacker:

Opening a vacuum-sealed jar with a spoon

  1. Hold the spoon in one hand and the jar firmly in the other.
  2. Nestle the spoon in the crack between the lid and the glass. Push up and back. You want to break the seal.
  3. Press up with the spoon to loosen the lid. If the seal does not break, rotate the jar and repeat, pressing up and back with the spoon until you hear a pop.
  4. Let go of the spoon and twist the lid off. It will come of smoothly and easily.

http://lifehacker.com/400144/open-a-stuck-jar-with-a-spoon

Jon Leibowitz

Posted 2014-12-09T23:07:06.030

Reputation: 158

There is also a commercial opener that works on this principle. Not for sale around here anymore, so I can not find you a picture. – Willeke – 2017-05-28T18:55:51.270

Using a spoon (or knife) is good and quick and easy when it works, which is a lot of the time, but in my experience there are times when a lid is stuck on so tightly that this method won't work and the rubber glove method is required. – h34 – 2015-01-01T10:49:05.927

1Some beer bottle openers will do this as well. Or those things they used to use for opening condensed milk, used the other way round. – RedSonja – 2015-02-02T14:50:17.717

7

Is it cheating to invest in a jar opener. Here are lots of them --- pick one. http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1/176-5905764-2208615?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=jar+opener

My personal favorite -- a bit pricy but works great --- is:\Swing-A-Way 711BK Comfort Grip Jar Opener, Black

I have severe arthritis and this always works for me with little strain.

Alan

Alan

Posted 2014-12-09T23:07:06.030

Reputation: 632

3

I don't think it's cheating; it's just using the actual right tool for the job. I've got this guy myself, it's only like $6 usd.

– Captain Obvious – 2015-06-14T07:15:38.847

4

If you have to open those glasses more frequently, such a device could help you:

rubber band with lever

It's a rubber band with a plastic lever arm, that fits on most common glasses:

device in use

For occasional use, built one made of things you have at home, like a leather belt and a lever arm made of a hammer, a cane or a boomerang - you name it:

selfmade glass opener

Apply the force gently in order not to damage the belt. And maybe protect the hand that holds the glass with a glove or similar.

ott--

Posted 2014-12-09T23:07:06.030

Reputation: 153

1The belt/hammer combo is the real thing. Great life hack! – Stan – 2016-05-20T01:50:54.573

4

Hold the jar tightly in one hand and firmly punch it’s bottom side with your fist or wrist. You should hear a distinct sound somewhere between hissing and popping. Afterwards the jar is easier to open. Repeat, if necessary.

Be sure to hold and punch the jar in such a way that you do not break your own fingers but at the same time do not lose your grip on it. As a further safety precaution, place a blanket on the back of the jar to avoid slicing your hand in the unusual event that the glass breaks.

My personal guess is that this somehow briefly lifts the lid and thus allows for an adjustment of pressures. However, I remember having heard a university lecture on this which involved gases dissolved in liquids contained in the jar, but unfortunately I fail to find any publications or other sources on this.

Wrzlprmft

Posted 2014-12-09T23:07:06.030

Reputation: 220

4

Put the jar on a piece of wood (or other material that is soft enough for the buttom knobs of the glass to sink it, but not too soft to provide grip). Then lay your hands (both!) on top of it and lean with your wight on the glass, start with a little and intensify carefully. Then twist it with you whole body, keeping your arms rigid. The glass part should stick to the wood as the knobs on the bottom are pressed into the wood, the lid moves with you. Then the glass is open.

You have to make sure that the wood can't move away. Your wood will have glass markings on it afterwards.

Angelo Fuchs

Posted 2014-12-09T23:07:06.030

Reputation: 1 368

3

Try tightening the lid first.

I realize how that sounds, but it has worked for me on occasion. My wife heard someone suggest that idea years ago. I was doubtful at first but it does seem to work on some lids.

I think it just helps break the seal much like banging the lid on the edge.

m42

Posted 2014-12-09T23:07:06.030

Reputation: 139

I don't understand how this could possibly help. Could you try adding an explanation? – Zach Saucier – 2014-12-27T15:15:07.933

Why down vote? Did you try it? I said on /some/ lids. – m42 – 2014-12-27T18:42:36.463

@ZachSaucier: It can possibly help somebody, if they try it out and it works. (This does not mean, an explanation would be better, though.) – Wrzlprmft – 2014-12-27T20:40:39.363

3

This only works with metal lids on glass jars!

Have no idea how this works but it has every time and its an old solution my grandmother passed down. Tap the lid with the handle of a knife or some such implement a few times in various positions around the side of the lid [not the top]... and you should be able to open with relative ease from there.

If the above does not release the lid, place the lid under a hot water running from a tap... try to keep the glass bottle out of the water - so tip the jar over so that the water is running predominantly on the metal lid. While the lid is still hot, place a tea towel or the like over the lid so you don't burn yourself and twist. Good luck!

drcrpsych

Posted 2014-12-09T23:07:06.030

Reputation: 41

this is what my parents usually try but it works only in rare cases – Mikhail V – 2016-05-16T13:45:38.633

I use the back edge (if that's not a contradiction) of a table knife. It works (when it does work) by deforming the lid and breaking the seal so that air pressure is not working against you. – Anton Sherwood – 2016-06-06T06:41:27.303

1

First, run hot water over the lid while soaking the bottom in ice cubes (you can skip the ice if it's cold). Be careful not to let the hot water touch the base. After that, don some rubber gloves and start twisting.

QuyNguyen2013

Posted 2014-12-09T23:07:06.030

Reputation: 865

1

Turn the jar upside down over the counter. Then rap the entire surface of the jar lid sharply on the counter. This breaks the seal on the jar. Now just open it as you normally do.

user100

Posted 2014-12-09T23:07:06.030

Reputation:

1

I've seen so many people (sometimes) having a hard time opening using Kelly Thomas trick. I know that it works, but from my grandmother, I learned easy and in my opinion better method. With a little practice, I was able to open any jar in less than 5 seconds.

  1. Catch the jar with your hands.
  2. Reverse upside down.
  3. Bang something hard* with the edge of the lid.
  4. Repeat point three exactly three times, turning the jar about 120 degrees.
  5. It should be ready to open easily.

*by banging something hard, I do not mean to bang a glass board or tiled floor. ;)

Kamil

Posted 2014-12-09T23:07:06.030

Reputation: 11

1

I've had ones where I've tried everything and cannot get the lid to come off. The final solution was a large pipe-wrench. Tighten it up around the lid and give it a twist (so that the teeth grab into the lid).

TheShaman

Posted 2014-12-09T23:07:06.030

Reputation: 135

That's my first resort. The extra foot of lever arm really makes a difference. – Mark – 2014-12-28T09:42:52.977

But only if you don't intend to re-use the jar some day. – RedSonja – 2015-02-02T14:49:21.380

@RedSonja, this is simply using the wrench to gain leverage, not using the wrench to smash the jar. – Mark – 2015-04-29T02:49:38.020

If I use a wrench to open a jar, the lid gets dented round the edge, then I can't reuse it next time I make jam. – RedSonja – 2015-04-30T20:34:49.520

1

For all your lids on jars/pots/etc that you'll empty straight away and you won't be reusing, there's one simple and easy trick:

Use a sharp knife/object and poke a small hole in the lid

It's the same effect as with the spoon, you're letting the air pressure equalize, but this could save you a bit of fiddling around.

CustomX

Posted 2014-12-09T23:07:06.030

Reputation: 241

For the lid you need to open right now but also need to be able to re-close, you can put a piece of duct tape over the hole in the jar. As long as you won't be subjecting said jar to a pressure differential, and don't put it on its side/upside down, it'll work just fine. – re-cursion – 2017-06-04T02:32:20.893

1

Tap the side of the lid with the back of a knife.

I have no idea why this works, but it does, and it is way easier than some of the other proposed methods.

Tyler Durden

Posted 2014-12-09T23:07:06.030

Reputation: 641

1

  1. Tap the lid of the jar on a horizontal hard surface. Try and keep the bottle as horizontal as possible making sure the glass doesn't hit the surface.
  2. Repeat this about 4 to 5 times at while rotating the bottle so as to tap different points of the edge of the lid.
  3. Once this is done, you should be able twist the lid off easily.

I've tried this technique multiple times with success every time using my marble kitchen counter as the hard surface. In case it doesn't budge, try tapping the edge of the lid a few more times.

This technique will allow you to reuse the lid after the jar has been opened.

Ian

Posted 2014-12-09T23:07:06.030

Reputation: 149

1

As you and others have already pointed out, the problem is the lack of grip.

Instead of using rubber gloves or duct tape to increase grip, another hacky substitute is a non-lubricated condom. Yes, a condom. They are actually useful for various other things. The following animated picture should explain everything. test

Alex

Posted 2014-12-09T23:07:06.030

Reputation: 3 369

1

I bought a bunch of circular non slip rubber pads in a UK supermarket, since then I haven't had to use any other trick.

Make sure the lid and the jar are dry. Cover the lid with the pad, tightly grab the jar with your weaker hand (use a cotton cloth if needed) and then just twist the lid with your strong hand through the rubber pad.

The lid will be released effortlessly.

I see they sell these pads online, if you can't find them locally, and they are worth every cent they cost.

eva

Posted 2014-12-09T23:07:06.030

Reputation: 11

0

I consume a lot of food in such jars and almost always they just won't open. Two methods that I find most effective:

  1. Punch a hole in the lid. To make the process easy and safe I use a small hammer and a masonry nail (short and thick nail for concrete walls) or a similar sharp object, like a center punch tool, which you can easily hold in hand while tapping it with a hammer. So you practically don't need to apply any power to open the jar and don't need to ruin your knifes.
  2. If you want to reuse the lid, use a leather work glove, not rubber. You can get a pair for ca.10 bucks, and it can be much better investment than a jar opener. Unlike other methods and thin rubber gloves, these not only give good grip but also reduce the pain in the hand especially if the cap is really tight and you must apply a lot of power. Till now I could open so all the jars without hassle. But this still needs some power :)

Mikhail V

Posted 2014-12-09T23:07:06.030

Reputation: 131

0

Simply, strike the bottom of the jar with the heel of your hand. It shunts the contents forward, adjusting the pressure. The lid will come off then with an easy twist. That's how you open a jar.

kexDexx

Posted 2014-12-09T23:07:06.030

Reputation: 11

0

Just bang it on the counter a bit. Solved.

Chris

Posted 2014-12-09T23:07:06.030

Reputation: 109

Why was this downvoted? It's a crap-ton better than the "accepted" answer that says take a knife and wedge it into the seal... – Chris – 2016-05-19T19:53:53.113

0

Counter-intuitively, press down on the lid while twisting - it gives you a much better grip.

Also, a variation on the hot water trick for the impatient/foolhardy: I invert the jar over a small gas burner for a few seconds. Take suitable precautions.

Keith McClary

Posted 2014-12-09T23:07:06.030

Reputation: 131

0

Hold it with your first hand and open its cap with another hand using a wet rag. That helps me a lot.

nicael

Posted 2014-12-09T23:07:06.030

Reputation: 3 173

0

As a last resort get a hammer and a screwdriver and punch some holes in the lid. Transfer the contents to another jar that will open.

ma turner

Posted 2014-12-09T23:07:06.030

Reputation: 1

That answer has already been given. – Chenmunka – 2017-11-27T08:51:24.033

-1

Did no one else's mother use the hinge of the back door to open the ketchup bottle when you were a child?

I am surprised.
My dad used to go mad with her. It's not good for the door.

Wouldn't work for full sized jar lids though.

n00dles

Posted 2014-12-09T23:07:06.030

Reputation: 198