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Can Openers… the indispensable kitchen tool!

Can Openers… the indispensable kitchen tool!

Can Openers… no one really cares to discuss them… until they are broken and you have to buy a new one! It’s one of those kitchen items that you take for granted, that you use regularly, sometimes daily and you just want yours to work properly when you need it!

A bit of history

Where does it all come from? Food was stored in metal cans since 1772 by the Netherlands. How they opened them for the next 80 years is still a mystery as the first official can opener was patented in England in 1855! Shortly thereafter a patent was registered in the United States. The basic use of a can opener is to remove the lid from a metal can in a way that prevents injury and does not allow metal shavings to contaminate the can’s contents. The original can openers had a sharp cutter, like the military opener designed during World War II. Followed were different versions of openers with rotating cutting wheels which travel around the can’s ring, slicing open the lid.

Types of can openers

There are four (4) types of openers:

  1. Basic hand held can opener:
    They consist of 2 handles that come together at the cutting wheel. The idea is to clamp the cutting wheel down on the rim of the can using the handles and then turn the wheel or knob to rotate the cutting wheel thereby cutting the lid from the can.
  2. Hand held smooth edge can opener:
    They are designed to cut the lid of the can off from below the lid’s seam by removing the entire top portion of the lid, seam and all, so there are no sharp edges on the lid.
  3. Hand held safest can opener:
    The most technologically advanced of all can openers that folds the metal at the seam leaving no sharp edge either on the lid or on the can. It’s perfect for recycling, especially when one needs to rinse out the can prior to disposal. The only opener with this technology is the “Securimax” patented technology from Starfrit.
  4. Electronic can openers:
    Designed to eliminate the hand stress that can come from squeezing the handles and turning the knob on manual models, they are great for individuals who have less strength in their hands either due to arthritis or other conditions. These can be on the counter or wall mounted.

How to choose an opener

Two basic questions need to be asked:

  1. How often do you use a can opener?
    The more often you use them, the sturdier you will need them to be. It’s worth the extra $5 or $10 if you want one that will last for a while and always be ready when you need it.
  2. Will you be manipulating the can / lid once opened to clean for recycling purposes?
    If you need to rinse the can once it’s empty, you should choose an opener that does not leave sharp edges on the lid or edges of the can for safety purposes, especially if you have a family with children.

How to care for your can opener?

It’s simple! Just rinse the cutting wheels off after each use to make sure no food residue remains on the opener. You can also wash it in the dishwasher once every year for a more thorough cleaning.


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