How to Open the Most Stubborn Jars, Even If You Have Weak Noodle Arms

How to Open the Most Stubborn Jars, Even If You Have Weak Noodle Arms
Photo: Alliance Images, Shutterstock

We’ve all been psyched to dig into some Kosher baby dills or fresh jam, but after twisting, grunting, and vowing I will not ask for help, I can do this myself, we realise our meager hands aren’t cutting it. Many of us reach for a silicone grip, a jar-opening kitchen gadget, or try to create friction with a dish towel. If these methods fail though, you should turn to one of these clever approaches that may not be in your standard repertoire.

Improve your grip with rubber (or an open hand)

Of course, if the lid or your hands are damp, it’s a non-starter. After drying them off, the obvious next step is to use the dish towel (or a piece of grippy silicone) to help increase your grip power. But failing those, you can try any number of other rubbery aids, from plastic wrap and rubber dish gloves to placing a thick rubber band around the lid. Any of them will improve your grip. You can also try using an open hand grip — which looks hard, not gonna lie.

Try some (strategic) lid banging

Many articles suggest you tap on the top and sides of the lid with a “wooden spoon” to break the seal. Which sounds well and good — but have you tried “tapping” the lid up against the nearest counter edge repeatedly (while spinning the jar so the lid is equally tapped all around)? It requires finesse and self-control — we’re not suggesting a lid-banging massacre — but as an inveterate counter banger, we can recommend this careful-yet-firmly-executed contact.

Break the seal with a knife or spoon

If you’ve already tried the “water hammer” method (slapping the base of the jar with an open palm) to no effect, it’s time to bring in some utensils. Insert a butter knife, spoon, bottle opener, or flat-head screwdriver underneath the rim of the lid and move it slowly around, using it as a lever to pry the lid away from the jar. When it pops, the seal’s been broken, and you can twist it off easily.

Heat up the jar lid

Heat serves to expand the lid making it less tight — running the lid under a steady stream of hot water or placing it upside down in a bowl of hot (not boiling) water for 30-60 seconds can do the trick. You can also opt to toast it with your hair dryer, but don’t use your bare hand to open the heat-blasted metal lid — use gloves or a hand towel as a barrier before opening. (This approach will also melt sticky stuff that may be keeping an already opened jar sealed shut).

Make a duct tape handle

If nothing else works, could it be time to swallow your pride and ask a housemate to step in? No, of course not — it’s time to make a tape handle. For this (unorthodox) option, tear a piece of duct tape about eight inches long, and stick a few inches of it on the top, tucking some under the lid. Fold the remaining tape in half to create a “handle.” Rotate the jar so the handle forms a 90 degree angle with the tape on the lid. Holding the jar steady with your non-dominant hand, pull the handle with your dominant hand. (Have that dish towel nearby, because the force of pulling it off this way can create a mess.) Then enjoy your victory pickles. Because nevertheless, you persisted.

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