6 Brilliant Ways to Open Stubborn Jars

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Release that frustration (and the lid)! Learn how to open a jar the easy way—even the most stubborn ones.

Ever find yourself craving pickles, but when you reach for your favorite jar of dills you can’t pry it open no matter how hard you grip? Or maybe you’re struggling to open a jar of marinara sauce for pasta night. Well, when brute force has failed you, give these ideas for how to open a jar a try.

The Easiest Ways to Open a Jar

Don’t hassle with that pesky jar any longer. We’ve got six fool-proof methods for how to open a jar.

1. Add some grip

Often all that is needed is to improve 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, plastic wrap or a piece of silicone (often found in kitchens as a heat-resistant mat or shelf liner). Place the grip-assisting item over the lid of the jar and twist as you usually do to 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. This rubber band trick works for opening beer bottles without a bottle opener, too!

2. Tap the lid

close up of red and white checkered jar lidKypros/Getty Images

Take a wooden spoon or a butter knife with the handle 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 carefully use the tip of a butter knife, a bottle opener or even a flat-head screwdriver as a prying device. You can also use a screwdriver to open a wine bottle without a corkscrew.

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. (Keep it pointing away from your face while you work.) The popping sound is the seal breaking. Once this has happened you should be able to twist the lid open with ease.

4. Try the water hammer

Another way to break the seal when you’re trying to open a jar 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 30 seconds. You can also use a hairdryer. (Here are some other handy hints for removing tough stuff!) Opening the hot lid after heat has been applied is best done with a potholder or dry dishtowel.

6. Reach for a jar-opening gadget

Close Up Of Senior Man Taking Lid Off Jar With jar opening toolDaisy-Daisy/Getty Images

If you regularly have trouble opening jar lids, stubborn or otherwise, or if you simply love kitchen gadgets, this method is for you.

Major retailers sell a number of jar-opening devices that apply the necessary grip for you and make opening that stubborn lid a breeze. And yes, electric jar openers are a thing (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 or use them to organize your kitchen. And if you’re wondering how to can your own food before you test those lid-levering skills, you’ll need a lesson in canning 101.

Check out our favorite jar-opening gadgets

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