Food preservation

How to Open a Canning Jar with Minimal Effort

Getting your canned food safely sealed and stored in the pantry is a significant achievement. It can be quite a letdown to find that when you are ready to use your wholesome preserved food, the lids feel like they are welded on. Fortunately, some handy hacks are available, and you don’t need ninja skills to open canning jars.

The quickest way to open a canning jar is to use a churchkey can opener to lift the lid. You can also break the seal by exerting pressure against the thread while lifting the lid using a teaspoon. Punching a small hole through the top breaks the vacuum, and the lid will come off smoothly.

 Being faced with a stuck lid that seems to have become one with the glass jar can be frustrating. You can see the delicious food inside, but getting it out may seem impossible. Fortunately, we have loads of practical tips and ideas on how to open tightly sealed canning jars.

How To Open Canning Jar Lids

Opening canning jars needs to be a delicate balance between lifting the tightly sealed lid and being careful not to damage the rim of the glass jar. Canning jar lids should only be used once, while glass jars can be reused and may even become treasured family heirlooms if they are well looked after.

There are many ways to open canning jars, and many home canners develop their own unique jar-opening styles. When considering how to open jar lids, there are two parts to consider:

  • The flat lid
  • The metal band

Once a canning jar has been properly sealed, there is no need to leave the metal band on the jar. In some instances, for example, if they are to be transported, gifted, or used to store dry food, the metal bands may be left on to provide additional security.

Techniques to remove flat lids from canning jars differ entirely from those used to remove the metal band. There are several ways to remove even the most stubborn canning jar lids quickly.

Person opening jar with pickled tomatoes at grey table against black background, closeup

1.   Use A Churchkey Can Opener To Lift Jar Lids

Churchkey can openers may seem old-fashioned, but if you do a lot of home canning, it is well worth investing in one. Lifting flat lids from mason jars is as simple as engaging the lower hook of the churchkey on the side of the cover and pressing down on the handle. Work gently, taking care not to chip the jar’s rim.

A churchkey can opener like this one from TRUE Store is inexpensive and makes opening old-school cans a snap. Opening canning jars can become a quick and easy, no-mess, no-fuss operation, and you may wonder how you ever managed without one.

2.   Lift Canning Lids With A Teaspoon

A simple hack to opening canning jars is using a teaspoon or butter knife to pry the lid gently. This is what you should do:

  • Run your fingers around the raised glass thread at the top of the jar.
  • Locate the spot where the gap between the raised thread and the lid is closest.
  • Use the top of the raised thread as a wedge for your teaspoon or butterknife and engage the bottom of the canning jar lid.
  • Use a firm but gentle twisting motion to exert pressure on the lid.
  • You should hear the seal break, and the lid will then be easy to peel off.

3.   Punch A Hole In The Canning Jar Lid To Break The Seal

When all else fails, carefully punching a small hole into the flat mason jar lid is a surefire way to open a stubborn top. Since flat lids should only be used once, using this method is not wasteful.

Place the jar on a large work surface in case it slips while you are making the hole. Use a clean nail or another sharp object and gently poke a hole through the center of the flat lid. You may need a hammer to force it through.

Once the vacuum seal inside the jar is broken, the lid will be easy to remove. Punching a hole in the top may not be the most elegant way to remove a flat mason jar lid, but it is guaranteed to work.

How To Remove Metal Bands From Canning Jars

The metal bands used while processing canned food should be removed after the contents of the jar have cooled. Leaving them on increases the chances that they may become difficult to remove. It may even rust inside, which damages the reusable band.

Fortunately, the metal screw band does not touch the jar contents, so the food will not be ruined even if it has rusted slightly. Getting a stuck metal band off can be frustrating, but there are lots of things you can try and one of them is sure to work.

5 Ways To Remove A Canning Jar Ring

Although facing a stuck metal band on a canning jar can be exasperating, remember to work gently while loosening it. If the glass jar rim sustains any damage, the bottle will not be able to be reused in the future, as it won’t form a tight seal.

The trick to getting a stuck metal band loose is to work smart, not hard. Gently persuade the band to release by trying the following:

  1. Add heat. The metal will expand when heated, while glass does not. Heating the band will therefore make it less tight. Run hot water over the lid, or use a hair dryer if you prefer dry heat. Remember that the metal will heat up and may become very hot, so test it before gripping it with your hand to try to open the jar.
  • Tap around the band with a wooden spoon. Try tapping the metal band to loosen the seal. Use a wooden spoon to avoid denting the band, as it is reusable. The aim is to cause vibrations that will ease the grip of the metal against the glass jar.
  • Try to pry the band away from the glass jar. Use a flat metal utensil that fits under the lid’s rim. Then gently work around the rim, lifting the bottom edge slightly to unstick the band.
  • Get a better grip on the metal screw band. Wear a rubber glove or cover the lid in a layer of plastic wrap to get a tighter grip on the top when twisting to open it. Other methods include stretching rubber bands around the lid or using a dish towel or dryer sheet.
  • Use WD-40 to lubricate the band’s threading. If the metal rim won’t budge, turn the jar upside down and spray a small amount of lubricant around the lid’s edge so it runs into the threading. Give it a few moments to penetrate before twisting the cap to open.


Flat canning lids can be removed using a churchkey, prying it open with a teaspoon, or punching a hole in the center to release the vacuum inside. Metal bands should be removed after processing food to prevent them from rusting in the jars.

If the metal screw band gets stuck on the jar, try heating it or improving your grip. WD-40 can be applied as a last resort to lubricate the rusted metal thread, making it easier to twist off.

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