Liberate the Lid: 7 Ways to Open a Stuck Jar

Struggling with a stubborn jar lid can be frustrating. Fortunately, there are several ways to break the seal and open a stuck jar.

The drinks are poured, the bowl of chips is on the counter, and the only thing standing between you and the perfect snackfest is a stuck jar of salsa. What’s a nacho lover to do?

Whether you’re locked out of salsa, pasta sauce, or grandma’s canned pickles, a jammed jar can be a real pain in the hands. 

Fortunately, you’ve got options:

  1. Run the jar under warm water
  2. Use a butter knife
  3. Give it a bang
  4. Try a shoe
  5. Get a grip
  6. Pop the seal with a spoon
  7. Get help

Keep scrolling for the deets on how to open a stuck jar so you can get on with your life.

jars
Martí Sans/Stocksy United

7 ways to open a jar

First things first: Save time by identifying why the jar is stuck. Has the jar been opened before? You might be dealing with dried gunk effectively gluing the lid to the jar.

If it’s a new jar of food, on the other hand, consider whether you’re struggling because the jar is slippery, the lid’s too large for your hands, or the seal itself is hella strong. 

Pinpointed the prob? Here are some ways to liberate that lid.

1. Run the jar under warm water

If there’s any chance that you have gummed-up food in the lid, try this one. Running the jar under warm water might soften and loosen the old sauce enough to crack the code — erm, jar.

Running the jar under warm water can also help with new sauce jars. Hot water can help break a stubborn seal by causing the metal lid to expand and loosen. 

Here’s how:

  1. Run the tap with hot water that’s still cool enough to touch.
  2. Turn the jar onto its side, then hold the lid into the stream of water.
  3. Slowly turn the jar so that all sides of the lid have been soaked.
  4. Flip the jar right-side-up, then twist open the loosened lid. Voila!

Alternatively, soak your jar upside-down in a bowl of hot water for 30 seconds. 

2. Use a butter knife

If your jar o’ jam is airtight AF, a butter knife can help you pop the seal.

Here’s how:

  1. Place the jar on a stable surface and grab a butter knife.
  2. Now slowly ease the tip of the knife into the small gap between the jar and lid.
  3. Twist! (Think of the knife as a makeshift screwdriver.)
  4. You’ll hear a loud “pop!” when the seal breaks.
  5. Once the seal is broken, twist the lid to open the jar.

3. Give it a bang

No, really. Sometimes a light slam can also pop a jar’s seal. 

  1. Hold the jar upside-down in your non-dominant hand.
  2. Use your dominant hand to slap the base of the jar.
  3. You might need to whack the bottom of the jar a few times. Continue slapping with firm, quick hits until you hear a “pop!” That sound means the seal has been broken.
  4. Flip the jar upright and twist the lid off.

P.S. Please be careful not to break the glass. Try to tap the lid on the counter, not the jar itseld.

4. Use a shoe

Maybe your hand is too tired to give the jar a good whack. Maybe your wrist hurts. Whatever the problem, there’s a way to break that stubborn seal without straining yourself. All it takes is you, the jar, and a shoe.

  1. Place the jar upside down in a shoe.
  2. Grab the shoe tongue so you’re gripping the shoe and the jar.
  3. Lift the shoe about 9–12 inches off the floor, then quickly push it back down.
  4. Chances are, you’ve broken the seal! So take the jar back out and try twisting the lid open.

Psst. Try not to slam the shoe into the ground. The glass might break and ruin a perfectly good pair of shoes.

5. Get a grip

Sometimes a lid is just too big or slippery to grip properly. Boost your traction by grabbing plastic wrap, a silicone oven mitt or baking mat, or a rubber band.

Here’s how:

  1. Place the grippy thing (rubber band or silicone object works best) around the lid of the jar.
  2. Grip the jar lid, keeping the item between your hand and the lid.
  3. Now twist!

Heads up: Putting on rubber gloves also works. The principle is to use an ordinary, grippy household object to gain traction.

6. Pop the seal with a spoon

This one works just like the butter knife trick. 

  1. Slide the end of a spoon in the gap between the lid and the jar.
  2. Rock the spoon back and forth to try to work it farther and farther into the void.
  3. Use the spoon as a lever to wedge space into the gap until the seal pops.
  4. Now open the jar.

7. Get help

Womp, womp. We know. But sometimes, the best way to open a stuck jar is with a friend‘s help. 

If you’ve strained your wrist or hand to the point of pain, it’s time to get outside help. Ask your partner or roomie to help you release that imprisoned marinara, or knock on your neighbor’s door and offer to split the sauerkraut if they can help you open the jar. 

BonusResearch shows that forging social connections is good for your health. Why not nourish your friendship before filling your belly? #win

Takeaway

A stuck jar lid can be a real test of your strength and patience. Fortunately, there are plenty of tricks to help pop that lock.

So before you scream in frustration, take a deep breath. Pop the seal with a direct hit, hot water, a butter knife, or even a spoon. Bump up the traction with a rubber band, silicone oven mitt, or pair of pliers. Worse comes to worst? Grab a buddy and ask for help. 

No matter which technique you choose, we believe in you. You’ve got this.

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