5 Tricks for Opening Stubborn Jars

Whether you’re in the middle of cooking or simply getting a snack, a hard-to-open jar is always an unwanted setback. Next time you’re faced with a lid that won’t 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 you’re working with these techniques.

1. Get a Grip

Often the main issue is simply a wet or slippery jar you can’t 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 doesn’t 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 doesn’t 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 it’s 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 it’s 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. You’ll 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 doesn’t 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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43 comments

Ann B
Ann B4 months ago

none of these work with arthritic fingers

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Sophie L
Past Member 4 months ago

thanks for posting

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Mona M
Mona M4 months ago

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

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Angela J
Angela J4 months ago

Thanks

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Zdzislaw Topor
Zdzislaw Topor4 months ago

Ciekawe, dziękuję.

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Julie W
Julie W4 months ago

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

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Danuta W
Danuta W4 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Mona P
Mona Pietsch4 months ago

Noted

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Naomi Dreyer
Naomi D4 months ago

Water hammer is new for me.

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Lesa D
Lesa D4 months ago

thank you Zoe...

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