Complete Can Opener Buyers Guide
Even though can openers seem like a pretty straightforward piece of kitchen equipment, there are actually a lot of different factors you need to take into consideration to make sure you get the right model. From simple elements like size and shape to bigger concepts like overall durability and safety features, it can get a little overwhelming. Below is a buyer’s guide overview that touches on the most important topics you should think about before you start shopping for a new can opener.
This is the first factor you should take into consideration because it’s going to influence pretty much all of your other decisions. If, like me, you use your can opener every day, then you’re going to want to focus on a model that you can feel comfortable using. Elements like a comfortable handle and a knob that turns smoothly might seem insignificant at first, but they can make all the difference down the line. The more often you use your can opener, the more you want to prioritize ease of use and the operation style.
On the other hand, if you’re not planning on using the can opener very often, then you don’t need to focus as much on the comfort aspects of the model. Instead, you may want to find the most reliable can opener; one that requires the least amount of maintenance. In this situation, a can opener that you can leave in a drawer and not have to think about would be more useful to you than one with an ergonomic handle or that comes in a variety of colors. Once you know your basic usage pattern, you can start building a proper list of priority features.
Ease of Use
For most people, ease of use is going to be incredibly important in a can opener. I used to struggle with models that were unbelievably difficult to operate, and it really took precious time away from the other activates in my day. Struggling to get a can opener to fit onto the can, or having it hit a snag halfway through and end up creating a jagged metal rim, can leave you feeling incredibly frustrated and put you in a bad mood for the rest of the day.
For the most part, electric can openers are going to be easier to use than manual openers, since they deal with the actual act of cutting through the lid. However, these models can be more expensive and more prone to malfunction and require additional care. Some manual models use gears and other designs to make the turning motion easier, though you still need to put in some effort to perform the cutting. Finding the right balance here depends on your budget and your physical capabilities.
The most significant safety feature you need to think about when shopping for a new can opener has to do with the edges of the lid. There are a lot of manual and electric can openers that cut into the top of the can, which can leave sharp and even jagged edges on it. When it comes time to remove the lid, these sharp edges can cut your fingers or tear holes in your trash bags. If reducing the risk of cuts from can lids is important to you, then you’ll want to focus on models that promise a smooth edge.
Most can openers achieve this by cutting underneath the rim of the can top, so the entire lid comes off with a smooth ridge. These models also help reduce the chances of the blades getting stuck on the lid and the can opener slipping off during operation, as well as the lid getting stuck in the blades of the opener after you’re all done with the process.
There are two ways to look at durability in a can opener – overall lifespan and can cutting power. The lifespan of a can opener is going to be longer with a chromed or carbon steel model, because the metal is much harder and better able to withstand the impact of cutting into cans and the force that it takes. Can openers made from these materials are also going to be able to handle heavier cans, which can prove difficult for smaller models. You may want to avoid any can opener that has completely plastic handles, since these are more likely to break when you use them on a can made with a thicker type of metal.
I went back and forth quite a bit trying to decide whether or not I wanted to stick with manual can openers or try out an electric model. I hadn’t used an electric model since I was a kid, and back then they weren’t very powerful or impressive. I was pleased to find that modern electric can openers are much sturdier and stronger than those in the past. Even though electric can openers are very easy to use, they are also more expensive than manual can openers and can sometimes be much harder to clean.
Also, electric can openers are completely useless without a power source. That means that you can’t take them with you to a picnic or camping trip unless you have a portable generator or access to a power outlet. Manual can openers are incredibly portable, so you can take them with you pretty much anywhere. Another benefit of manual can openers is that they will always work during a power outage – a property that can be very important during an emergency.
If you plan on opening a lot of oddly-shaped cans, or cans that are made of particularly thick metal, then you probably need to choose a manual can opener. Electric can openers can struggle with cans that aren’t perfect circles. Some manual can openers can also struggle with these types of cans, especially if they are wider than a standard can. Think about the types of cans you open most often to find an opener that can best meet your needs.
Cleaning your can opener is extremely important, because leaving it dirty or wet can cause it to rust. A rusted can opener is not only much harder to use, but can contaminate your food and cause you to become sick. Most manual can openers are relatively easy to clean, but some have extra ridges and nooks that can catch food and be troublesome to clean. There are also a lot of manual can openers that are not dishwasher safe, which can be an extra inconvenience for a lot of people. Similarly, electric can openers are very hard to clean because you can’t submerge them in the water.
Whatever type of can opener you choose, make sure that it’s one you feel comfortable using. Trying to use a can opener that is too big or too hard to turn can lead to some serious hand pain, which can compound over time to become more than just a mild inconvenience. Remember, you deserve to have appliances and tools in your life that make things easier, so don’t just settle on something that doesn’t meet all of your needs.