5 Tricks for Opening Stubborn Jars

Whether youíre in the middle of cooking or simply getting a snack, a hard-to-open jar is always an unwanted setback. Next time youíre faced with a lid that wonít budge, try one of the following tricks to get your jar open and get back to what you were doing.

Remember that most jar lids open by twisting counterclockwise, so make sure you twist in the right direction when youíre working with these techniques.

1. Get a Grip

Often the main issue is simply a wet or slippery jar you canít get a firm hold on. Some of these items can help you get a better grip on a jar lid:

  • Dry dish towel
  • Rubber glove
  • Plastic wrap
  • A wide rubber band
  • Silicone mat or shelf liner

Place your grip-assisting item over the jar lid and twist. If this still doesnít work, you can use a second gripping item to grasp the jar as well.

2. Dent the Lid

Take the flat edge of a butter knife, a heavy spoon or other solid utensil and knock it against the edge of the jar lid a few times. This can often help release the seal on the lid. If it doesnít work the first time, try a few more rounds of knocking to help loosen the seal.

3. †Use Leverage

Prying the lid open can also be effective. Use a butter knife, spoon, bottle opener, flat-head screwdriver or other utensil with a small tip that fits under the jar lid. Wedge the utensil firmly in between the lid and the jar edge, then lift upwards. You can do this in a few places around the lid until the seal breaks.

Use caution with this approach because itís possible to crack a glass jar or puncture a plastic one if you use enough force.

4. Create a Water Hammer

The idea behind a water hammer is to force the contents of the jar towards the lid, which will create enough pressure to break the seal. You can do this by turning the jar upside down and jolting it downwards a few times. Another option is to hold the jar in your non-dominant hand at a 45-degree angle with the lid facing down. Then, slap the bottom of the jar a few times with the center of your palm.

5. Apply Heat

This should always be your last choice because itís the most dangerous. There are a couple different ways to use heat to open an especially stubborn jar.

The first way is to put a small amount of hot water in a bowl. Youíll only need enough to cover the lid. Turn your jar upside down and slowly lower the lid into the water. Hold it there for a short time until you hear the seal pop. Do not let the water touch the jar itself because the sudden temperature change could crack a glass jar or melt a plastic jar. For this reason, never use boiling water.

The second way is to apply heat directly to a lid, typically with a hair dryer. You should only do this with metal lids, as plastic lids can easily melt. Blow hot air around the edge of the lid, keeping it moving so the lid doesnít warp from too much heat in one place. Then put on an oven mitt or other glove to protect your hand while you twist open the hot lid.

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Peggy B
Peggy B1 months ago


Marie W
Marie W3 months ago

thank you

John J
John J4 months ago

thanks for sharing

John J
John J4 months ago

thanks for sharing

Ann B
Ann B9 months ago

none of these work with arthritic fingers

Sophie L
Past Member 9 months ago

thanks for posting

Mona M
Mona M9 months ago

Thanks for this timely article, that's was my problem just 2 days back!

Angela J
Angela J9 months ago


Zdzislaw Topor
Zdzislaw Topor9 months ago

Ciekawe, dziękuję.

Julie W
Julie W9 months ago

I'd forgotten the heat trick. I usually put a screwdriver under the lid - it soon 'pops'.