Staying Mindful of Rust when Shopping for Can Openers
Rust is pretty much the worst thing that can happen to a can opener. It damages the gears and blades of the device, making it harder, or even impossible, to use. It can also lead to some serious health concerns if left on a can opener that is in regular use. Read on to learn more about rust, how it affects can openers, and what you can do to stop it.
What is Rust?
Without getting too technical, rust is a compound that forms as a result of iron or certain metals being exposed to
oxygen and water for a long period of time. In terms of can openers, the water can come from the liquid contents of a can or from leftover water after a cleaning. Rust is a byproduct of the oxygen, water, and metal reacting at a chemical level, which causes the metal to weaken.
The rust is actually parts of the metal flaking off, so the more rust you see the worse shape the can opener is in. You can identify rust by its distinct orange and brown color, as well as its rough and flaky appearance. Some rust can appear darker, which can make it harder to see when it builds up on compact areas such as screws on handles or the inner areas of the gears.
How Does Rust Harm Can Openers?
The biggest way rust can harm a can opener is by wearing down the components and making it much harder for you
to use. Most of the time, the rust builds up in the gears and the blades, since this is the area that is most frequently exposed to liquids. Rusty gears mean that the knob of the can opener is going to be hard to turn, which in turn means that the device is going to be less effective at cutting through the can. Rust on the actual blade will also make it harder to open cans. Some severe cases of rust can cause the can opener to seal itself shut completely, so you can’t even open it.
Using a rusty can opener is also a serious health concern because it can cause the rust to fall into the can and your food. This can occur directly when the rusted component touches the contents of the can or indirectly when the rust wears off by rubbing against the can. In either case, ingesting rust can make you very sick, resulting in major stomach issues and other complications. Also, if you cut yourself on the can lid and the rust enters into your blood stream, you can develop even more serious health issues.
Methods to Prevent Rust
One of the best ways to prevent rust in can openers is to look for models that are made out of stainless steel or certain types of chrome, as these metals are more resistant to forming rust. If you choose to purchase a can opener that is made out of a different material, or that doesn’t expressly promise the prevention of rust, then you need to take extra care to clean it thoroughly after each use.
Once you clean the can opener with soap and water, make sure you dry off the gears and blades before storing them. Any water that remains on the metal parts can cause rust if the opener is left to sit in an area where the water can’t evaporate. Also, never put a can opener in the dishwasher unless its care instructions explicitly say it’s dishwasher safe. The extreme heat of the water and the drying process can lead to the fast development of rust.
Rust and Electric Can Openers
Rust is less of an issue with electric can openers, since many have fewer metal components and most use materials that are resistant to rust. However, you still need to clean electric can openers thoroughly if any water or food gets onto the gears and blades. If you can remove the blade easily, this can greatly help with the cleaning process. Just make sure to follow the care instructions so you use the right cleaning method and type of detergent.
However, putting a wet or damp mechanism back into the machine can increase the chances of it rusting or otherwise malfunctioning. Just like with manual can openers, look for models that use stainless steel components so that you can ensure the highest level of protection throughout the lifespan of your item. Rust can also develop further inside the can opener where you can’t easily see, so you may need to periodically check the gears for signs of corrosion.
Another way to avoid rust in can openers it to look for manual models with fewer moving parts. Any areas on the can opener where water can gather and pool, such as between swing arms or inside plastic grooves next to metal, will increase the odds that the area will rust.