How to Use an Old Fashioned Can Opener?

How to Use an Old Fashioned Can Opener

One of the essential appliances that every kitchen should have is the can opener. It performs the primary function of opening tin cans without harming the user or contaminating the food inside. There are many varieties available, and as such, one needs to get oriented with each type to make it easy to use whenever in need.

One of the openers well known is the old-fashioned can opener used in the olden times, and still in use today. No matter how old an opener may seem to be, each of them has a mechanism used to cut the tin so that it could save one’s energy and time spent in cutting.

Some of these can openers include a side can opener, single wheel opener, and butterfly opener, among others.

  • The first can opener was invented in 1858 by Ezra Warner and became the first to be patented.
  • The rotating wheel Opener was invented by William Lyman in 1870.
  • In 1956, the first popular electric can opener was invented by Udico.

How to Use an Old Fashioned Can Opener? (Step by step)

1. Placing the knife in a nearly perpendicular manner to the edge of the can. By using gentle force, drive the knife part of the opener in a downward manner into the can. This is to enable it to slide into the can. This method is known as the stab push, or the old-fashioned push, which to date is still preferred by people who have used it for a long time in comparison to the modernized can openers.

2. Take precautions when doing this to avoid any harm. Ensure to hold the can in a tight manner such that even if the blade is blunt or not sharp to the extreme requirements, the can remains stiff. If not sure about doing this, let someone help you hold tight to the can as you work on the cutting blade until you gain enough experience.

3. Holding the opener and ensuring the blade part is facing downwards – As discussed in the first step, push the blade down once more and make another hole from the area where you made the first hole, which should be parallel to the smooth edge of the can.

4. Move the Can Opener along the edges. Just like the way a seesaw operates in moving up and down, use the same movements using the opener by fitting the groove on the edge of the can. Cut it to your satisfaction, but note that the edges may be very sharp, and such extra care needs to be taken by keeping your hands from the edges.  The can will now be open and ready for use.

Advantages of Using an Old-Fashioned Can Opener

Every opener has its benefits and limitations, and so is the Old-fashioned Can opener. Some of the advantages include;

  • No energy needed-One only use bare hands to cut the tin.
  • Easy to store – Since it is small, it is easily stored in the kitchen cabinets or available drawers.
  • Easy to clean – You only need to wipe the can opener with a clean towel.
  • Easy to use – A good opener needs not to be complicated with features that are hard to understand. The old-fashioned can opener is the easiest to use, and anyone can use it without any training and still get good results.
  • It is cheap – Because of its hand’s operation feature, this is among the most inexpensive can openers one can find in the market.

However, it is essential to note that even though this can opener has many advantages, several limitations still exist.

  • One must pull the can manually as opposed to the modern ones that open automatically.
  • If care is not taken, one can slice the hand easily, being manually operated.
  • It poses a significant challenge to those people who have arthritis to operate it.
  • It takes a longer time to open than the modern ones, such as the electrical can opener, which requires a touch of a button, and it’s done.

Proper Maintenance of Old-Fashioned Can Opener

It is evident that can openers are the most neglected appliances in every kitchen. Wiping itself is quickly forgotten, leaving it to rust, and its life span is affected. This may lead to some foul smell when new cans are opened again. It is essential, therefore, to maintain your can opener using the following steps.

  • Use of white distilled vinegar-To obtain good results, soak the can opener in a jar of distilled vinegar for ten minutes.
  • Wipe and scrub any areas that could be showing dirt particles using a toothbrush. Always ensure that the cutting blade faces away to avoid any cuts while scrubbing the dirty areas.
  • Use a lubricant such as the WD-40 and apply it on the cutting wheel, the serrated wheel, and the cutting knob to avoid rusting. Vinegar is not a good lubricant, and if proper lubricant is not used, this can shorten the can opener’s lifespan.

Troubleshooting a can opener

At times can openers may fail to work. But then it is essential to avoid misuse to get to the level of breakdown. But if it breaks down, wipe properly, apply a lubricant and screw back the knobs tightly. This works perfectly for the old-fashioned can openers.


Q. Why is it difficult to get the right angle when using an old-fashioned can opener?

A. At times, the old-fashioned ones can be a challenge even after pushing hard. Should this happen often, the best thing is to dispose of and buy a new one.

Q. Which is the best can opener for seniors with arthritis?

A. The old-fashioned ones are not friendly for seniors, but getting the Balywood One-Touch can opener works perfectly for seniors with arthritis.

Q. How long can an old-fashioned can opener last?

A.  This is manually operated, and if proper maintenance is taken, it can last for many years. However, it is prone to breakage even within the first two years if not properly maintained.


A good can opener can last for years. This is a must appliance in every kitchen. Otherwise, one ends up having tasteless food if you go by using uncanned food only. Maintain it well, and you will have the best kitchen experience when it comes to cutting cans.

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