Most times we can open jars of food with little to no problem, a bit of pressure is applied as we’re twisting and then “pop”, the tight vacuum seal is broken and the lid comes off with ease. Occasionally though it just won’t budge, even after bringing some serious muscle power to the job…so how does one remove them?
Here are a few different ways to open stubborn jar lids:
- Take a butter knife and give the metal a few good wacks along the top edge (turning the vessel incrementally while you hit it), this should help break the seal and make the top come off easily.
- Use the smooth edge of the knife (or the handle) and you’ll need to whack it (not light taps), but not so hard you shatter the glass.
- A metal spoon can be used instead.
- I consider this the best technique since it was my grandmother who taught me this method. It’s my “go-to” fix when problems arise, I’d say it has about a 99% “unstuck” success rate. Grannies always know!
- To improve traction, put on rubber or latex gloves so you can grip really well when twisting.
- A square of plastic wrap will work well too.
- Lightly moisten a dishcloth or towel and use that to grab hold of the top and twist, this also gives you more gripping power.
- Try breaking the seal by running the jar under hot water for up to a minute (tilt vessel down so the water can reach the underside of edge).
- Giving the top a few wacks with a butter knife while doing this can also help speed up the process.
- You can also put it upside down in a bowl of hot water (just an inch or so deep to cover the lid edge) and leaving for up to a minute before trying again.
- Rubber bands will do the trick too! You’ll need a wide one to place around the lid then grab hold of it to squeeze and twist.
- Not working? Try another wide rubber band, this time placing around the glass sides so you have two firm places for gripping.
- Keep a square of rubberized non-slip drawer and shelf liner in with your kitchen gadgets, this can also be used to give you more traction (drape over jar before twisting off).
- A silicone oven mitt will work the same & a comment below from Amberose recommends using a mousepad (clever!).
- Try giving the bottom a good wack with the heel of your open hand. You may need to do this a couple times.
- You could also tap the bottom on the countertop (cover with a towel first to prevent damaging the surface), do so with enough force to loosen the seal without shattering the glass.
If trying to open a stuck jar that has previously opened successfully, the airtight vacuum seal isn’t the problem. What’s likely happened is the food contents crusted shut because old syrup or sauce has solidified underneath and between the lid and glass rim.
Here’s How To Fix This:
- Soaking in hot water should do the trick (as mentioned above) since it will help soften the crusted goo and loosen things up.
- You might also need something for extra grip (such as a rubber glove, elastic band, etc.). To prevent this problem in the future, wipe rim with a clean damp cloth before twisting closed for storage.
Bonus: Helpful Tips From Readers
- Rita: The pointy end of a beer can opener turned upside down & pushing it gently under the cap until you hear a pop. Christine says a blunt knife can be used for this technique, K Brown recommends a teaspoon.
- Kelly & Jack both recommend poking a small hole in the top to release the pressure.
- Cheryl’s tool of choice: A strap wrench. She keeps one in the kitchen drawer for this very purpose.
- Mary cuts a long piece of masking tape, folds it in on itself (so sticky on both outer sides), wraps a strip around the lid & another around the glass sides. Two-sided tape works well too.
- Sam Bready: Sets the vessel in ice water & then applies heat to the top. The jar contracts slightly while the lid expands.
- Jenny: Had good luck with applying heat with a hair dryer while wacking with a butter knife.
Did I miss your tried and true? Please share in the discussion area below 🙂
I always whacked the lid and not the bottom to release the pressure and thus open the jar
I’ve found the best and easiest way is to hit the jar on a towel on counter upside down, lid first. works every time.
I have been trying to open a jar for a week. I am a pretty strong person so I knew it was on tighter than most jars. I did exactly what you suggested and it opened right away!! Thanks for your solution.
Has not worked for me eith my gherkins
I do the same thing but hit the floor with the top of the jar. It does work.
WT it works!
I’d already tried most of the above already with no success so thank you Robin as you said ‘works every time’ 🙂
OMG IT WORKED!!!! THANKYOUUUU
You’re my hero. My husband and I tried every trick we knew and this is the only thing that did the trick.
best tip ever!
Just tried it…. it works! Every time 🙂
Robin, my dear, you just saved me a huge embarrassment in front of my two female coworkers – thank you sincerely. I had to go to the bathroom with a jar full of food tho : D
THANK YOU ROBIN!!! If I had not seen this post, I would have gone to bed sobbing not being able to satisfy my craving!
I didn’t believe it at first, but I tried it and it worked instantly! Thank you so much <3
Turn the jar/bottle upside down and immerse in hot boiling water for a few seconds and presto! Lid will open quickly.
Using the pointy end of a beer can opener turned upside down, gently push it under the lid till you hear a “pop”. You’ve broken the seal and the lid will easily turn .
I use a blunt knife in the same way.
This is the method I use and it’s fool proof.
Teaspoon works really well, too.
only way I open jar lids is the way Rita says…works every time and no straining
I’ll poke a hole in the lid to (release the pressure) and then I hear the “pop”. Works all the time
I always try to poke a very small hole in the top to release the vaccum! It works but compromises the seal for things that last in the refrigerator for long periods. They can give you refrigerator a funky smell.
Strapwrench – works every time. Lives in my kitchen drawer
I give it to my 6’8″ son. Works every time!
That’s right auntiepatch! My grandson at the age of 16 is 6’4″ and still growing, is very busy the first minutes of a visit with his grandmother!
Hold the jar stright up and thump the top on the counter, works every time. Easy as pie.
Thank you all for your suggestions. I just had a very tight jar lid that I couldn’t open I go to this site. But I took some of your ideas and it opened. Thanks again.
A cut piece of inter tube from a automobile tire. I use this to open jars and I have cut my emergency vacuum belts from a medium size inter tube. Cut a seal for a garden hose, out of a piece of inter tube this is a washer that goes in the part of the hose that connects to the faucet. We keep a few inter tubes for emergencies of all kinds.
To open jars, just go to your computer. I keep an extra mousepad (cut up into useable size) to open jars. Nothing else works as fast or as easy for me.
OMG, I tried everything in this comment room and this is the only thing that worked Thank you so much Amberrose!
throw the jar against the wall – works every time! 🙂 the lid goes off easily 🙂
When the lid is small enough, I use the door jam. Open the door all the way, insert the lid in the door jam and close the door just enough to securely hold the lid. Leverage is on your side, so be careful not to crush the lid. Spin the bottle with your other hand.
The butter knife tip worked like a charm. Thank you!!!
the butter knife tip worked perfectly
I tried the laytex gloves, worked perfectly fine!
Recently developed rheumatoid arthritis and couldn’t open most jars. Your tip on banging the top with a knife works like a charm — even on the tightest tops. Can’t thank you enough !
Bullet proof method:
I spent the better part of a day struggling with the tightest jar. Tried all the things on here and had no success. I was going to give up and take it back to the store, but luckily I gave it one last shot.
I cut a long piece of Masking tape and folded it on itself so that it would have two sticky ends (two-sided tape should work as well), I wrapped it around the lid and repeated the process with the jar itself. Nothing will give you better traction. I got it open in one try with very little force.
Thank you for this. It sounded odd, masking tape being less strong than duct tape and such, but it worked so well!!!
Putting the jar in hot water for about a minute and a half and then unscrewing jar worked.
I have had success a time or two by setting the jar in ice water and applying heat to the lid. The jar contracts slightly while the lid expands et voila!
That said, I have three jars sitting on my counter top right now laughing fiendishly at me. I’m going to try some of the suggestions here and if I don’t have any luck, they go to the food bank (again) in the hope that somebody out there is either stronger than I am and/or is more fiendish than the lids and outwit them. I live in hope.
Thank you for your tips for loosening a jar lid, TipNut! With your help I just opened a jar of Mixed Nut butter that I was sure was both hermetically and hydraulically sealed. At first, nothing I did worked: I tried banging on the lid with a butter knife, running it under hot water for several seconds, and holding either a towel or a potholder while twisting the cap. I’ve opened many jars with stuck lids using these simple methods and this jar was by far the worst. I was almost resigned to returning the jar to Trader Joe’s for a refund or to exchange it for another jar of Mixed Nut butter that does open. Then I decided to look online for help and found your site. I followed steps no. 1 to 4. After leaving the jar upside-down in hot water in a bowl for > 1 minute, it finally opened!
Next time I have this problem I’ll try one or more of the other suggestions mentioned by your readers above, and see how they work.
Ok i tried all the solutions to no avail.
Place towel on floor. Slam jar lid facing down. 2 to 3 times. Opened.
If you get a hammer and smack the jar and try to unscrew it will help cause it helped me
Thank you! For me, the rubber glove did it! Thank you!
I had been fighting with a jar of pearl onions for several hours to no avail. I had tapped the top of the jar, immersed in hot water and tried a rubber gripper – no luck. Then, I read here that your grandmother had always tapped the side of the jar to by tuning it incrementally and tapping with a butter knife no less. Yep, it opened.
Thank you! We are working on repairing a pipe in the dark and had to open a small can of primer as well as pvc glue. Both were sealed tight, but the combo of a hairdryer and wacking it with a butter knife did the trick!
I tried the butter knife and wacked the jar and the lid a 3 times and it worked and I used the dish cloth to clean the rim of the jar and wiped after with paper towels and washed the inner lid and washed the lid dired then both and put plastic wrap on the jar thanks for the butter knife tip I will definitely use this again thanks Schae
Did number one in the list above and can’t believe how easily the lid came off.AMAZING.