The Best Ever (Quick) Guide: How to Open a Jar

We’ve all been there… you get a sudden craving for a pickle so you go and grab a fresh jar out of the pantry ready to taste that sweet, sour, vinegary goodness, but the jar has other ideas! No matter how hard you try, you just cannot get that lid to budge off the jar. Before you throw the jar of pickles at the wall in a fit of frustration, we highly recommend that you check out our quick guide on how to open a jar.

This doesn’t just work for pickles either. It can work for any sort of jam, bolognese sauce, a jar of curry, or any other jarred goodies you may have in your cupboard. We promise you don’t need to be Popeye to get it open, you just need some of our foolproof tips and tricks! Some of these tips and tricks are things you can do at home, manually, others are some excellent recommendations for some kitchen must-haves.

1. Use heat to open a jar

Apologies for turning this into a high school physics lesson, but as a quick refresher, do we all know what heat can do to different materials? Yep, that’s right, who said expand?! Heat does indeed expand materials. This is a process known as thermal expansion. This heat expansion expands the lid of the jar away from the jar itself, loosening it and allowing you to remove it with ease.

There are two ways of doing this: with water or with direct heat. You can either run the jar under hot water for thirty seconds, ensuring the lid gets the heat, or prop it into a bowl of hot water for thirty seconds. The heat from the water should loosen the jar lid.

When you are removing it from the hot water, please take care not to burn yourself. You can open it with a towel if you wish to ensure you are protected from burns.

The second option involves using direct hear from none other than your hairdryer. Simply blast your hairdryer at the top of the jar for a few seconds. This doesn’t need to happen for very long. Twenty seconds should be enough if the hair dryer is on its highest heat setting.

Take due care when doing this and ensure the hair dryer is not brought into the kitchen. Instead, take the jar to the hairdryer. The lid is likely to be very hot, much hotter than if using the water method. For this reason, you will definitely need to use a towel to take the lid off.

2. Use an electric jar opener

There are some fantastic feats of technology out there now that can revolutionize the way we live and cook. Electric jar openers are becoming increasingly popular, especially for people who suffer from arthritis and other conditions that affect the strength in their hands.

These electric jar openers can either be fitted under a cupboard or sideboard like this one from EZ Off or they can be a stand-alone device that can fit the whole jar inside like this one by Black and Decker.

Both of these devices can take off any lid with ease, even on those that seem like they have been vacuum sealed at least ten times. Both of them are super easy to use and we think they are a necessity for anyone, not just those with weak hands or conditions like arthritis.

3. Use a rubber band to open a jar

Sometimes when we are opening a jar it can seem like the main issue lies in the fact that our hands keep slipping and sliding. It’s as though they just aren’t ‘grippy’ enough. Partner that with the inevitable sweating whilst trying to get a tough jar open, and it’s a recipe for disaster.

A good fix for this is adding a little friction into the mix. Something that has proved useful for us time and again, especially in the days before we got an eclectic jar opener, is using an elastic band.

Simply place the elastic band around the outer diameter of the lid and open it whilst holding the band. The elastic band should provide you with enough grip to successfully open it – especially since you have probably already loosened it after attempting to prise it open for the last hour.

4. Rubber gloves or a specially designed rubber grip

Just like the rubber or elastic band method, you can also use a rubber glove to open your jar. Make sure the rubber glove is completely dry and put it on, opening the jar with the gloved hand. You should feel right away that you have a better grip on the jar, and be able to twist it off with ease. There are also rubber grips that have been designed with opening jars in mind.

They are made to be textured, providing as much friction and grip as possible, both on your hand and on the jar. Our favorite set is by Prepworks because it is a set of three all in different sizes to suit any size jar. Each of them also comes in a different color so you know exactly what color is for which size jar.

The reason these kinds of methods work so well is that it helps to give the dynamic friction a leg up over static friction. The static friction is what happens between the lid and the jar. It is tightly held in place and more stubborn than the friction we place on it when trying to open it. By adding even more friction to the mix with a rubber band, we can increase the amount of dynamic friction, thus opening the jar far more easily.

5. Use a knife to open a jar

…. Or any other sharp and pointy object for that matter! You can use a sharp knife or screwdriver in two ways to get your stubborn jar open. The first, and perhaps, the safest option is to run a very thin sharp object under the rim of the lid between that and the jar. This will help let some air under the surface, expanding the lid and allowing it to pop right off with that ever so satisfying noise.

The other option involves you stabbing the lid itself. This method does work but can be more dangerous. You will need to hold the base of the jar tightly with one hand and then pierce the lid with a knife in the other hand.

The hole from the knife (or any other sharp object you want to use) will allow air to quickly flow in, and will likely make a loud pop similar to the noise a jar makes when it opens.

As we have said, this latter method is a little more risky as you risk hurting yourself with the sharp object or perhaps getting the contents of the jar all over you and the kitchen. That being said, if you are super careful, it can be a very successful method.

Final word

We are sure you will agree that there are so many more methods of opening jars than you ever thought possible. All is not lost when you have a particularly stubborn jar. As frustrating as it can be when the lid doesn’t immediately pop off there are certainly some amazing tried and trusted methods you can enlist to get that jar of pickles open for you in no time.

Don’t forget to take care of yourself when you are using some of the methods listed in our article. If you are using any of the methods involving heat or a knife, make sure you are protected, and if you are a child, please get your parent or any other responsible adult to do it for you. We hope that you have found this article of great help.

We bet you have already got some of those must-have jar opening products in your virtual basket, right? One thing is for sure and that is that you will never have to wait for those delicious pickles again. Use our methods and all of your jars of pickles will be open in a jiffy!

Thank you for reading our quick guide! Have the best (ever) day!