6 Brilliant Ways to Open Stubborn Jars

Cooking pasta and can't get the lid of the sauce jar to budge? Release that frustration (and the lid)! Learn how to open a jar, even the really stubborn ones, the easy way.

Closeup on young housewife opening jar of pickled cucumbersPhoto: Shutterstock / Alliance
Photo: Shutterstock / Alliance

Ever find yourself craving pickles but when you reach for your favorite jar of dills (we have our favorite brandcheck out our taste test), you can’t pry it open no matter how hard you grip? You twist and turn and, in the end, you’re out of breath and without your favorite snack. Well, when brute force has failed, give these ideas a go.

1. Add some grip

Often all that is needed is improving your grip on the jar lid. A loose grip could be caused by the lid being damp, or perhaps it’s simply shiny and slippery.

Items that can be used for greater grip include a dry dish towel, piece of silicone (often found in kitchens as a heat-resistant mat or shelf liner), or plastic wrap. Place the grip-assisting item over the lid of the jar and twist as you usually do and turn a slippery lid into an open one. You can also improve your grip by donning a pair of rubber gloves, or placing a thick rubber band around the lid.

2. Tap the lid

Take a wooden spoon or a butter knife with the straight edge facing the lid. Give the lid of the jar a couple of firm taps. This can have the effect of disrupting the seal. After tapping, try to open the jar again. You made need to repeat the tapping a few times to get that lid to budge.

3. Break the seal

Go a step further and use the tip of a butter knife, a bottle opener or even a flat-head screw driver as a prying device.

Insert the tip of the chosen object under the rim of the jar lid and lever it out. Move around the rim, inserting the tip and applying leverage, until you hear a small pop. The popping sound is the seal being broken. Once this has happened you should be able to twist the lid open with ease!

4. The water hammer

Another way to break the seal is to use a method that’s sometimes called “The Water Hammer.” Start by holding the jar in your non-dominant hand and tilt it 45 degrees with the lid facing down. With the center of your palm slap the base of the jar firmly but not too hard. The effect of the water hammer is to raise the pressure near the lid in order to break the seal. You should hear a small pop indicating the seal has been broken and the jar can be opened.

5. Add some heat

Applying heat to the lid will expand it slightly, releasing it from its tight grip. Methods of heating include running the lid under hot water or putting the jar, lid first, into a bowl of hot water for thirty seconds. You can also use a hair dryer. Opening the lid once heat has been applied is best done with a pot holder or dry dish towel to avoid getting burnt.

6. Jar opening gadgets

If you regularly have trouble opening jar lids, stubborn or otherwise, because your hands are weak or have trouble grasping, or if you simply love kitchen gadgets, this final method is for you.

Amazon sells a number of jar opening devices that apply the necessary grip for you and make opening that stubborn lid a breeze. They even sell an electric jar opener (perfect for the cook who has everything!).

Once that jar is open and the contents are gone, remember you can repurpose your jars as gifts, for Christmas, birthdays or just because. And if you’re wondering how to can your own yummie things before you test those lid-levering skills, find out here.

Popular Videos