How To Open A Can Without a Can Opener

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Last Updated on December 11, 2020

As a prepper, I find a lot of inspiration from watching movies that have some element of doomsday survival. Not so much the fantastical aspects, but the more mundane like any blind spots I might have in the food storage department. If you haven’t watched, National Geographic’s American Blackout, I highly recommend it. One of the many opportunities to learn something from this survival movie was the scene that inspired me to learn how to open a can without a can opener.

Actually, this post when it first came out resonated with a lot of people on Facebook who had been affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda. Real people affected by a real doomsday survival scenario when they had lost everything. The word I heard at the time was the relief agencies had quickly provided canned food to the “1.8 million homeless and more than 6,000,000 displaced” but no one had a can opener. I do not know if that was true or not but the steps below on how to open a can without a can opener, and this post remain one of our highest visited pages ever.

Back to the movie and the topic at hand, this movie had so much more information to make you think about a doomsday scenario and what prepping could do in order to save your life.

In this movie, the premise is that the electric grid goes down completely. The movie follows several families as they are faced with several situations where emergency preparedness would have helped them. It’s a compelling fictional dramatization of what experts believe we as Americans could see should the electric grid fail us. It is one of the more prevalent prepping topics we see people reading this site in preparation for.

In American Blackout, there is one scene where the “Yuppie couple”, facing extreme hunger was trying to open a can of peaches that he had stolen in an act of desperation. When they got home he realized that they didn’t have a can opener in their fancy apartment so the guy had to use his own smarts to open the can himself. Spoiler alert – This is the same can he bashed over the head of a guy who was trying to steal it from him to feed his own family. Funny how this man was so desperate for food that he beat someone to death, but the can of peaches ended up kicking his butt.

When he couldn’t get the can open, he started jabbing a knife down onto the lid in frustration (bad idea) and ended up cutting his hand pretty badly. Not what you want to do in the middle of a crisis when hospitals are already overwhelmed and you don’t want to go outside for your own safety.

American Blackout teaches what can happen if you don't know how to open a can without a can opener.
American Blackout teaches what can happen if you don’t know how to open a can without a can opener.

In this scenario there was no way he could make it to a hospital and there were obviously more people with much more serious injuries so he and his can inspired fit throwing would be at the back of the line. Not to mention both he and his girlfriend would have to leave the relative safety of his poorly equipped apartment to seek medical attention. They might end up in worse shape as evidenced by the bad guys who finally got to them at the end of the episode.

If the crisis had lasted longer than 10 days, there might never have been any medical treatment and he could have died from a relatively simple infection.

KitchenAid Can Opener
The KitchenAid Classic Can Opener is an essential tool for any kitchen. The can opener's large, easy to turn knob makes opening cans an easy task.

Most of us do have a can opener around the house and I recommend you have a manual can opener as a backup because canned food items are one of the simplest ways to stock up your food storage. This is especially important if you are a yuppie couple living in an apartment and don’t know how to open a can without a can opener. πŸ™‚

How To Open A Can Without a Can Opener

There are ways to open a can without a can opener though and I found this quick video explaining the concept. It’s dirt simple and doesn’t require you to kill anyone first. These two guys are funny and my favorite line is: “Guess what? Cat gonna Survive too”. – Thanks to Sarah for correcting me. I don’t understand Russian too well πŸ™‚


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Freedom-loving American doing what I can to help prepare and inform others. Editor and creator of The Prepper Journal 2013-2017, 2020 -

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I seen the samething from Cody Lunden but really doesnt everyone have a P38 I have 2 and sometimes I use them just to show people how easy they are and leave one on youre keychain



Thanks for commenting!

I know, this shouldn’t be an issue for most of us. I don’t have a real p38 although whenever I am at a Military Surplus store I feel like grabbing a hundred because they are so cheap. I have an opener on my Leatherman as well as the manual can openers. You never know… you could be trapped somewhere with a million cans of food and no can opener.

Sounds like a Twilight Zone episode but I guess its possible.

Bobby Bob

Yeah, and when you break your eyeglasses, how do you find the cans???? (we miss you, Burgess!)


The P38 is a supper tool, I am going to go and buy at least a dozen. When I was in the army I had a bunch and used them all the time. The cement idea is great if you are in the city, but the P38 works everywhere.

Michael Swaine

Well, it could be a lunch tool, too.


i have 1 of the p38 can openers on my keychain too,,i only hope i can find my keys in a crisis,,lol


Sorry, I found myself laughing so hard until I realized what you were talking about! We have a p38 and I was picturing you guys shooting a hole in the can with a 9mm, lol! We have a 1941 model and we love it, but opening cans….probably not, lol.


And my idea of a P-38 had him either blasting away with 4 .50-calibers and a 20 mm cannon, or using the propeller tips of running engines. Neither of which sound like there’d be much usable food afterwards (unless you lost your arm in the propeller).


It would be a lot more informative if you actually described what a P38 is. Oh, I had to do a SWPPP today and an EA has been started. Got to make sure, too, that the COA is happy with what I am doing.


LOL… Most Preppers know a P38 is a tiny military keychain size can opener blade…
You could save face next time by just Googling it… js
Oh… and just in case you haven’t heard, the P51 is the larger model…
Great for beginners to master due to the size… but it might stab you more often on a keyring as they tend to open easier due to the hole placement….. hope it helps.


I like this (and my thumbs):

(plus, it has a loop on one end, for tying or using a clip to attach to a rucksack or carpenter pant loop)


every time im at a surplus store I pick up a p38 I also have half a dozen p54 which is the larger can opener plus my leatherman plus in my bugout bag I have a hand operated can opener anyone who thinks about storing can food should have several different methods for opening cans . most of us carry at least a knife which can be used to open cans


I grew up in the cold war era. Friend had a bomb shelter in their house, very well stocked. HOWEVER, most can foods today have an expiration date, and its important. When you see the top of the can puffing up it’s not good, lol. I’m sure if we had had to use that bomb shelter we would have all died of food poisoning!


It is a ” best by date ”, not a expiration date. Most cans are good well beyond the date, unless they rust. After the best by deadline, the food may lose flavor or coloring and texture but may be still eatable. They found cans at the bottom of the missisippi river in a sunken boat and they where over a 100 years old and the food was still good. Tomatoes have a lot of acid and are more likely to rust those cans from the inside. Also , do not buy the pull tabs. If you got pull tabs… Read more »


He actually says, “Guess what? Cat going to SURIVIVE too”. But hey, why get things right?

Pat Henry

Ouch! You got me Sarah. I’ll fix it.



Why such a harsh, sarcastic comment over a mistake?

Sherrie Roberts

Some people get their kicks out of pointing out mistakes of others. They are rather low in character. One should concentrate on the overall message. Low characters are unable to do that.


How ironic that you slammed her translation & didn’t even spell SURVIVE correctly.

anna pajama

Guess what? It’s survive. But why get things right?


Why not just eat cat, Kommrad?

Bobby Bob

And do it quickly while it still has meat on its bones.


I gonna’ shoot you myself, comrade! No eat furbabies!


My cat brings small bunnies and mice back, which could make a nice snack. Plus, she makes a better warmer alive.


right on, show us fire from ice.


ok, that was adorable! very cute guys! also, good info. i was totally interested and learned something new and helpful. Thanks guys!


no i like knowing how to do this and NO tools available, which is always possible. i would have no idea you could do this.


Well, no tools except a flat piece of concrete, which implies a city, which has lots of tools.


lol – good point. I would point out that the situation in opening paragraph would not have been helped by this method. Not too many people have concrete slabs in their apartments….

Tony Ramsey

I would bet concrete is somewhere on the building or slab or basement of whatever domicile you reside… if not… brick or even pavement would also work.


Please go back and reread the first paragraph. The characters in the story were afraid to leave their apartment for fear of looters during an extended blackout.

Tony Ramsey

once again most buildings at least my old apartment building not only had brick on the side just outside my glass patio door there was also concrete porch slabs at not only the outside porch stoop but under the entry way carpet or tile and also the entrance slab.


open the window most building are made of some sort of stone ? wonder if it would work on my granite counter ?

Sherrie Roberts

Probably not. Not rough enough. That’s why concrete works. Rough surface.

Bobby Bob

Not sure where you live, but I think most buildings are wood and stucco.


Apartments generally are some sort of permanent structure like concrete, concrete blocks or bricks. We are in a rural area and unless it is an antique home or older home it at least has brick or rock on the outside. I call our town Rock City because all the older homes are made of rock – looks like artwork. Those would work well, too.


not in my country

Glen Mast

think foundation Bobby


Uh, you better be starving or your significant other will make you the next meal, lol. But no, I doubt it…it’s needs to be a harsh abrassive form.

Sherrie Roberts

There you go.

Thomas Kemmett

If you were prepared you would not have to leave. Plus, those knuckleheads looting the apts.? I have an answer for that, a 12 gauge works great.

Sherrie Roberts

Hell, I have a DRIVEWAY! But I think this was aimed at refugees found in a bombed city who had cans of food which they needed to open.


Well, if its post apolocalyptic (ok, I butchered that word)….you just might since the city will probably be in ruins. Not probably, WILL be.


you got it – implies a city. we live a long long way in the country with no concrete – on the other hand, maybe granite would work. But I could imagine living where there was neither.

Daniel Tabor

Good Lord! Extrapolate the concept! Use a rock or anything. Too small to rub the entire top of the can flat? Rub the rock around the edge over and over with some force until you achieve the same thing… breaking the seal. Any rock big enough to hold in your hand so you can get force on it and last longer than the can edge will do! Having said that… the odds of finding a tin can of food somewhere there is not SOME semblance of human construction is slim to none. You’re not going to find a can of… Read more »

Tink Seagraves

*slow clap* That was… poetic!


Actually, it is in such places that cans are found. I was in a place called Hall Beach N of the Arctic Circle – cans keep so there were cans – no can opener. It was winter so hard to dig up rocks but it could be done. Of course, I’m just trying to think of places where the easy might be hard.

Mark Kawate

I disagree. There is concrete outside my house. In the middle of the country.


You can open a can with a spoon. Google it!


Also, I assume that a rock would work too.


I’m thinking this wold work on a flat rock, too. So in the country or beach it could work.

Sherrie Roberts

no, actually a BOMBED city which has pieces of buildings crushed and you have no can opener. Guess you never been there.

Daniel Stolte

I assume a rock out in the woods would not work at all…. πŸ˜‰


Why are you in the woods without a Swiss Army Knife, a multitool, another knife, a couple of guns, a P38, a car, a hatchet and a can opener? πŸ˜‰


I’m thinking this wold work on a flat rock, too.


i can’t figure out how to subscribe! dannng!

Pat Henry

You have to go to their YouTube page Kate. The link is here.

Thanks for stopping by!


In what imaginary world will you never have a knife, chisel or pliers, a can opener, and a punch?


Perhaps you would have a knife, or can opener, but what about men and women with no common sense???


I’ve opened lots of cans with a knife – steak knife, pocket knife, whatever. Any knife with a sharp point will do.


The point is that it’s very dangerous. Not a risk you want to take if you are in a situation where you have no access to better tools.


Very cool. Thanks.




i like how the tall guy sounds.. he sounds like Gru of Despicable Me animation. πŸ™‚


this is great and thanks for showing. subscribed to your youtube page and will definitely be checking out all your videos

Hopeful Hooves

Excellent video! Very helpful! I hope you will post many more like this! I will share each one you make on my FB page. I have nearly 5000 friends! Everybody needs basic 101 skills! So many think they are prepared but there are less then 10 million in America that have done anything at all to get ready. Americans need to be responsible to become self reliant instead of depending on FEMA or Red Cross to mop up after disasters. I learned the hard way after our farm burned to the ground in 2000 and had to live homeless for… Read more »


educational and entertaining πŸ™‚ cool

Jack Mabry

If you’re out in the boonies, you can usually find some flat rocks. This is pretty cool!


Excellent common sense solution to a potentially serious problem.


That was awesome! Can’t believe how simple that was!

Jim Crouch


Survivor Philippines

Thank for the awesome info. Your video is being circulated here in the philippines right now so volunteers can show survivors in the recent Yolanda typhoon how to open can goods without can openers. Again Thank you

James Earnhart

CrazyRussianHackers rule ! Awesome man !!!

Laura Becker Sherman

Wow, what an amazing trick! I would have never guessed this in a million years. Thank you!


GREAT NEWS! Thank you!


If you’re going to go through that much work, wouldn’t it be easier to just go buy a can opener?

πŸ™‚ JK – no post is complete without someone making an idiotic comment. Just my way of helping you guys out. Thanks for the video.

Tink Seagraves

You do realize neither of these guys understand Russian very well either?


You know where i got this link from? What to do when you get sent relief goods after the Typhoon Haiyan but there’s no can opener in sight because people didn’t pack them in bags and all our tools are washed away by the storm surge. Thanks for the very helpful tip.

To the trolls who just want to be “mema” about not finding any piece of slab of concrete, when you’re desperate you are going to make anything work.

Pat Henry

Hopefully it was helpful Mihia and that was our intent with sharing this information. I know there are a lot of people who might view this as simple, but there are more I think who might look at a can and give up. Simple knowledge like this can make peoples lives easier or at least that was the goal. If it doesn’t do that, it may help some people to look at the problem from a different way. Either way, this simple re-post of a video has generated more discussion on this topic than I could have imagined. If it… Read more »


sounds great!!! but I do only have a manual can opener!!

Jan Bradley

This would also probably work on a flat rock in the woods. Don’t have to be in a city to do it, I would bet. And yes, the cat WILL survive!


Cool trick…but how is it that you don’t slice your fingers to pieces when you squeeze the can and the lid pops up? You’re squeezing on the can till the lid pops, and as soon as the pressure releases, wouldn’t your hand contract–right into the freshly exposed edges of the lid? Ouch. Having been with someone when they sliced themselves open on a can lid, I assure you it is NOT something you want to do in the apocolypse. I dunno, maybe the lid edges aren’t sharp, but I’d probably still wear gloves.

April Born


Danielle Moro


Angela Quinn Mause

This is just awesome


To remove hair from sink drain, if your sink is draining very slowly, use a certain coat hangar. Use the pant hangar from the cleaners with the cardboard tube. Pull off the tube and straighten the curve and use the very tight crimped end, the one that fits into the tube. It makes the tiniest hook to fit down the drain and very strong. Pull it all out and down the toilet or garbage. Sink is now draining beautifully.

Randy Smith

Who’da thunk it! Thanks guys.

Leandra Walker

God I love their accents



Thom Turner


Joseph Autrey

FAKE!!! At 2:00 you can see the can was open with a can opener. There is a cut where it was first put into. The first can they cut the video from him scraping it. The second one you never see it from the beginning. Why would you make such a dumb video that isn’t real. I’m the biggest loser and have not one single friend and I wouldn’t even do something so dumb too waste people’s time.

L. H.

What are you, 12?

Joseph Autrey

nope im 11. pretty close tho

Jane Doe

I would worry about eating the metal shavings….


Great idea!!


good stuff


Why would you say “Much more interesting videos coming up” THIS was a way cool video! LOVE The Russian Friend!!!!!!!!


Each time they start squeezing the can to pop the top, I foresee one of them slicing their hand down to the bone. That would be my biggest concern I suppose, if in a real life or death situation, what is the likely hood that you don’t severely injure yourself trying to open a can in this fashion?

Does this method leave a sharp edge like a can opener would, because like most anyone would agree.. the top of a can is razor sharp.

Kirk Lawless

How do you open the ammo can?


you guys are great ! Good humor too .. Thanks.. спасибо !

Charlie Malone

Works with Asphalt and plain rocks too. πŸ™‚ great to know if you are stranded up in the mountains.


going to try this


Very cool! Thanks for the can opening demo!

John Cross

Looks like you could cut yourself pretty bad doing that squeezy thing.

Ronald Neil Howdeshell


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