How To Open A Can Without a Can Opener


One of the scenes or opportunities to learn something from American Blackout was the scene where the Yuppie guy was trying to open a can of peaches that he apparently had stolen. I guess the Yuppies didn’t have a can opener in their fancy apartment so the guy had to use his own smarts to open the can himself. This is the same can he bashed over the head of a guy who was trying to steal it from him to feed his family. Funny how this man was so desperate for food that he beat someone to death, but the can of peaches kicked his butt.

When he couldn’t get the can open, he started jabbing a knife down onto the lid (bad idea) and ended up cutting his hand pretty badly. Not what you want to do in the middle of a crisis. 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.

Most of us do have a can opener around the house and I recommend you have a manual can opener as a back up. There are ways to open a can without a can opener though and I found this quick video explaining the concept. Its 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 ๐Ÿ™‚




  1. 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

    • Cole,

      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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

  2. 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!

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

    • 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.

  4. 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 two years while I rebuilt it from scratch. Very steep learning curve! Had to embarrass my insurance company on national TV to get a settlement!

  5. 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

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

    ๐Ÿ™‚ JK – no post is complete without someone making an idiotic comment. Just my way of helping you guys out. Thanks for the video.

  7. 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.

    • 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 helps one person in the world I am so happy.


  8. 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!

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. This is awesome. Because just when your confident that you will never have to do this is the day you cant find a can opener to save your ass lol…thanks for the info!!

  14. This is cute! I have done a sort of personal “Apocalypse Challenge”, of living off the grid, using collected water or water from the creek, cooking my food over a fire, collecting my food from the garden or from the wild (lots of cactus pads), and I raise my own rabbits, so I have meat. (It takes quite a bit of time to gather them food every day). I did this for a week. I plan to do this again next year.

  15. Great video ๐Ÿ™‚ shared on my FB. BTW you have great english skills ๐Ÿ™‚ I am jealous. I can only speak 1 language. Sooooo if you see someone criticize …. well ask them how many languages they speak fluently ๐Ÿ™‚ and then tell them to F off ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Thank you! Awesome trick of survival! But “how” does chaffing makes the can now openeable? I love your accent! How many languages do you speak?

  17. you’re grinding down the aluminum sealing the food. once the can is breached, the metal would be mixing in with the food until you’re able to loosen the lid enough to get to the food. Using a knife is a good and efficient idea, just needs practice

  18. I used to wonder this, how I would open these cans if I had no can opener, and here we are, many years later, finding out. I really do appreciate having such a practical lesson like this available. You may never know when such a thing will be needed! lol

  19. Thanks that was pretty cool, now how do you open a wine bottle with a cork in without tools? The cat an I would like wine with dinner! LOL

  20. ะกะฟะฐัะธะฑะพ ะฑะพะปัŒัˆะพะต, ะผะพะน ะดั€ัƒะทัŒั!

  21. Prepping for the end, huh? Why you want to live in an apocalypse? Is your need to be alive so great that you actually live with no electricity or cars or computers or so on?

  22. I think you will end up dying either way. You will either die because you will not have any canned food or you will die because the noise that the rubbing of a can of food makes on the street will alert all the zombies in your vicinity.

  23. why is everyone talking about a surplus store or whatever you might have on hand. This is “if you don’t have anything” to open a can. I think it’s awesome! Thanks!

  24. If you work for HHS, you can order the can to open itself or pay a penalty.
    If you work for the Fed, you can just assume the can is open.
    If you work for TSA, and the can is bigger than three ounces, it will be confiscated.
    If you are the President, if you like your can to be open, your can is open. Period.

  25. I learned this originally from the movie Do The Right Thing, were a little girl takes one end off of a tin can this way so it can be used to funnel water from an opened fire hydrant.

  26. If the cat and myself were really starving, instead of worrying about how to open a can to feed me and the cat……I would just eat the cat.

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