Genius Hacks For Opening Stubborn Jars That Are So Simple

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Opening a tight jar lid is a common kitchen struggle we've all encountered at some point. It's particularly frustrating when you need the content within the jar quickly, forcing you to engage in a frustrating and frantic muscle flex. These stubborn jars occur thanks to the traditional sealing process. During this, the air inside the jars contracts and creates a vacuum after it has been heated for sterilization and then cooled. So, tough lids are a necessary evil we have to deal with frequently.

Thankfully, there are some genius hacks you can try, many with the help of everyday kitchen items. Using a few simple supplies, you can go the easier route by leveraging things like heat expansion and friction to open that stubborn jar of pickles or pasta sauce. These hacks — tested and proven — require minimal effort, little time, and no help from another person, making them fast, safe, and effective.

Use rubber gloves for grip

When you try to open jars with your bare hands, the lid often slips due to its slick surface and your soft hands. So, it reduces the force transferred to the lid, making it difficult to open. Common rubber gloves used for various cleaning purposes can give you extra grip on slippery jar lids. This is due to the inherent properties of rubber, having a high coefficient of friction and natural tackiness.

For improved performance, wear clean and dry rubber gloves with the right fit. Larger gloves may not provide the secure grip you need, and tighter ones may impede the movement of your fingers. Also, keep in mind that textured gloves often provide additional friction. Just make sure you use a different pair than the ones you use for cleaning tasks. If you wear the rubber gloves on both hands you can firmly grip the jar and lid. If your initial attempt fails, readjust your grip and try again.

Apply hot water

Hot water works magic in loosening stubborn jars. When you apply hot water to the metal lid, the heat expands it faster than the glass jar, breaking the vacuum seal and letting you open the jar more easily. However, you must tread with caution when using this method because of the risks of burns and glass breakage. To prevent burns, you can use a towel and a protective glove when handling the jar. Furthermore, avoid using boiling water because sudden temperature changes can induce internal stresses within the glass and cause it to crack.

For a safer approach, fill a bowl with hot water from the tap. Then, submerge the lid by placing the jar upside down in the bowl. The experts at America's Test Kitchen advise using a pie plate in order to target the lid specifically. To give the lid enough time to expand, leave the jar in the hot water for about 30 seconds to a minute. Afterward, remove the jar from the water, dry the lid thoroughly with a towel, and twist open the lid.

Use plastic wrap

Plastic wrap has lots of uses and is a staple in most kitchens, making it a perfect alternative when rubber gloves are out of reach. Again, the slippery nature of the lid is a critical challenge, and reducing this will boost your chances of opening the jar easily. Experts recommend wrapping plastic wrap around the lid to create a non-slip surface, increasing the friction between your hand and the lid. But you want to ensure that your hands are not wet or oily, as this defeats the purpose altogether. 

First, cut a small piece that extends a few inches down the side of the jar. Center the wrap on the lid and press the sides to mold it to the grooves, stretching the excess around the sides of the jar. With dry hands, hold the jar firmly and twist the lid to open. You can also combine this with the rubber glove trick to create even more non-slip friction.

Use a rubber band

The rubber band method is another option to try if you're dealing with stubborn jar lids. It is similar to using rubber gloves because it provides extra grip with its rough texture. Plus, the stretching of the rubber band around the lid creates additional heat. This helps it adhere more tightly and creates more traction, giving you an even better grip.

Even home guru Martha Stewart swears by this trick to easily open her jars. Thick bands are preferable, but if you don't have any available, you can stack several thinner bands to get a good grip on the lid. For this to work, you'll also need to use a right diameter band because a loose one can slip off. If you can't find one tight enough, you can either tie a knot in it to make it smaller or wrap it around the lid several times.

Use a kitchen utensil

Those heavy wooden spoons and utensils can open your tight jars with just a tap. By hitting the rim of the lid firmly, you can disrupt the seal, making it easier for it to budge. It will be easy to tell when a seal is broken because you will hear a pop. Once this happens, you should be able to twist the lid and open your jar without issues. However, if this method doesn't work the first time, you may have to repeat the process.

If you don't have a wooden spoon, your basic table knife can also work. Simply turn it around so the dull edge of the knife is facing the jar. Then, use a chopping motion to firmly hit the top edge of the lid. Rotate the jar, hitting along the edges at several spots. Then, you should be able to twist the lid off the jar.

Try jar-opening tools

If you're running out of options for using items in your home, many stores sell several jar-opening tools to deal with your stubborn jar. For example, an adjustable Racheting Jar Opener, available at Garrett Wade, allows you to tighten the grasp on the lid. Then, you grip a handle and easily twist it to open your jar. 

Alternatively, you can purchase silicone jar openers from Amazon. They are similar to rubber gloves because they allow you to get a good grip on the lid before twisting it open. Another effective tool is an under-cabinet jar opener, like this one from Home Depot. This is mounted in the kitchen and can be used to open different-sized jars, regardless of the kind of lid it comes with, as well as bottles. If you find these don't open jars as easily as you'd expect, use the hot water trick to loosen the lid's seal first.

Use the flour method

The flour jar-opening method is a simple and cost-effective way to deal with stubborn lids, even if the other jar-opening tools are unavailable. So, the first thing to do is ensure that the lid is clean, dry, and free from any sticky residue. Next, sprinkle a little flour on the bottom edge of the lid. Make sure to apply evenly and close to the rim so it can work its way into the grooves. 

The fine powder will lubricate the area, making it easier to twist off the lid. It also helps break the jar's seal, releasing the lid when you twist it. Make sure you brush off the flour after loosening the lid if you don't want it to get into the jar's contents. To make this trick more effective and less messy, you can combine it with another method and cover the flour-dusted lid with plastic wrap.