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How to Use a Manual Can Opener When Camping

Woman's hands opening a can with a can opener

A manual can opener is a must for most camping trip food preparation and is easy to learn how to use. You'll need to be able to grip a can opener and turn the crank to open any canned foods you take on your camping trip.

Step One

Pull the handles apart so the circular gears are separated. You'll want to position the circular blade is on the inside of the can rim and the lower gear is on the outside of the rim.

Aluminum Can And Opener

Step Two

Squeeze the two handles together so the blade and gear close and engage around the can rim. The blade positioned at the inner rim will depress and cut through the can lid.

Opening can with manual can opener

Step Three

Continue to keep the handles closed by holding them with a firm grip. Use your other hand and grasp the outside crank that is positioned opposite the two gears and metal circular blades.

Manual Can Opener

Step Four

Turn the crank in a clockwise motion. This will force the gears to grind and move the blade against the can lid and the gear wheel move around the outer rim.

Woman Opening Can with manual can opener

Step Five

As you turn the crank, the can opener propelled by the gears turn around the can with the inner blade cutting through the lid.

Can opener blade cutting can

Step Six

Continue to turn the crank until the can opener returns to the point where you started. You can either continue to turn the crank until the lid detaches or leave it hinged.

Can opener and lid

Step Seven

You may prefer to leave the lid partially hinged, so you can easily pull it up from the can to empty its contents. Stop turning the can opener just short of completely cutting the lid free. This method allows you to press the lid down by placing your finger tips in the center of the lid if you need to drain liquids. You can safely press the lid back into the can once you've emptied it. This prevents accidental cuts when handling trash.

Can Opener Cutting Lid Off Can

Step Eight

If you cut the lid completely free, it will free inside the can. You'll carefully need to remove it, preferably with a fork or other utensil. Avoid using your fingers since the edge of the lid is razor sharp and can easily slice your fingers. Empty the can of its contents and place the detached lid inside the can for safely discarding in the trash bin.

Open can of tomato paste

Troubleshooting Can Opener Fails

Sometimes a can opener may stop cutting through the lid. When this happens, it's usually due to an irregularity in the can rim.

  1. Open the handles to release the circular blade and gears from the can lid rim.
  2. Set the blade just beyond the last cut and close the handles.
  3. Once more maintain a firm grip and begin turning the crank.
  4. The circular blade should once more begin to cut through the lid.
  5. Continue until you reach the area where you first ran into trouble with the can opener no longer working.
  6. Attempt to cut through this section of the lid once more.
  7. If the can opener won't cut through this portion of the lid, use the edge of a dinner knife to pry the lid open enough to empty the contents.
  8. If the can opener continues to miss or skip areas in a can lid, you may need to buy a new can opener.

Using a Manual Can Opener on a Camping Trip

You'll quickly get used to using a manual can opener instead of an electric one. You may find that you prefer using a manual can opener all the time for canned foods and quicker meal preparation.

How to Use a Manual Can Opener When Camping