There’s nothing worse than being hungry and having a jar of food you can’t open. Whether the lid is stuck on your pickles, or you can’t get into the peanut butter, don’t stress out. You don’t need a fancy jar opening gadget; there are plenty of ways to open a difficult jar with common household objects!

Method 1
Method 1 of 2:

Breaking the Seal on the Lid

  1. Grab a wooden kitchen spoon; the heavier the better. Tap the lid of the jar on top a couple of times around the edge to pop the seal, then try to twist off the lid.[1]
    • You might need to repeat this a few times to get the lid to loosen.
    • You can try other kitchen utensils if you don't have a kitchen spoon. Wood utensils work best, but anything heavy could work.
  2. Insert the flat tip of a butter knife or the tip of another flat metal utensil that fits under the edge of the lid’s rim. Carefully pry the lid away from the jar, working your way around the rim, to break the seal.[2]

    Tip: Listen for a pop sound as you work your way around the lid with the utensil. This sound means you have broken the seal and can now twist off the lid.

  3. Hold the jar at a 45-degree downward angle with your non-dominant hand. Firmly slap the bottom of the jar with the center of the palm of your dominant hand and listen for a pop to tell you you have broken the seal.[3]
    • This method is called the “water hammer”. It functions by raising the pressure against the lid to pop the seal.
  4. Fill a dish with hot (but not boiling) water and flip the jar upside down in it. Leave the jar for 30 seconds, then try to open it. Repeat this process if the lid doesn’t come off the first time.[4]

    Tip: You can also try running the lid under hot water for about 2 minutes to try to pop the seal if you don’t have a dish to submerge it in.

  5. Turn the hair dryer on high and aim it at the lid for 30 seconds to expand the lid and loosen the seal. Use a towel or other heat barrier to try to twist off the lid.[5]
    • This method also helps to melt jam or other sticky foods that may have glued the lid shut in the first place.
    • Be very careful with this method not to burn yourself. The metal lid will get very hot.
  6. Move the flame of a lighter slowly and carefully around the rim of the jar's lid to heat it up. Use a towel or gloves to try to twist off the lid once you have heated it up.[6]
    • The hotter you get the lid, the more it will expand, but be very careful because both the lighter and the lid of the jar will get very hot!
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Method 2
Method 2 of 2:

Getting a Better Grip on the Lid

  1. Sometimes a towel is all you need to give you the extra grip to twist off a stubborn lid. Hold the jar in your non-dominant hand and place the towel over the lid, then twist it counterclockwise.[7]
    • It’s a good idea to try opening difficult jars over the sink or a counter. This way, it will be easy to clean up anything that spills out if the lid suddenly comes off quickly.
  2. Put on a dry pair of kitchen gloves that you would normally use to wash dishes or clean. Try to twist off the lid of the jar as normal.[8]
    • You can use a single glove if you feel like you have better grip on the body of the jar with your naked hand.
  3. Tear off enough plastic wrap from a roll to cover the lid of the jar. Place it over the top and press it down around the rim until it clings to the lid, then twist the lid off.[9]
    • Note that the more clingy the plastic wrap, the more likely this method is to work.
  4. Get a rubber band that can fit tightly around the lid of the jar and stretch it around the rim. Use your dominant hand to grip the rubber band and try to twist the lid off.[10]

    Tip: Wider rubber bands work best for this method, so that there is more surface area to grip onto.

  5. Try using a dryer sheet for extra grip if you have one handy. A dryer sheet is another option to create traction for your hands. Place a dryer sheet over the lid and twist the lid off.[11]
    • You could try combining this method with the rubber band method by placing a rubber band over the dryer sheet to hold it more securely in place.
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Community Q&A

  • Question
    What’s the best way to open a tight plastic jar?
    wikiHow Staff Editor
    wikiHow Staff Editor
    Staff Answer
    This answer was written by one of our trained team of researchers who validated it for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
    wikiHow Staff Editor
    wikiHow Staff Editor
    Staff Answer
    Plastic jars usually have plastic screw-on caps. You can sometimes loosen these caps by running warm water over them, which can cause them to expand slightly. You can also try holding the jar upside down and pouring warm vinegar over it so it gets into the space between the lid and the top of the jar. This may help expand and lubricate the lid so it’s easier to get off.
  • Question
    How do you open a mason jar lid?
    wikiHow Staff Editor
    wikiHow Staff Editor
    Staff Answer
    This answer was written by one of our trained team of researchers who validated it for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
    wikiHow Staff Editor
    wikiHow Staff Editor
    Staff Answer
    First you’ll need to remove the screw band, the ring around the lid of the jar. You may be able to do this with a rubber jar grip, or tap the seal loose as you would with a regular vacuum sealed metal jar lid. Once the screw band is off, use the flat edge of a butter knife to pry up the flat cap on top of the jar.
  • Question
    What if the item I am trying to get the lid off of is refrigerated? Can I still use heat to get the lid off?
    Top Answerer
    If it's glass, you should be very, very careful not to let the hot water touch the cold glass. This could cause it to shatter. Avoid using direct heat on it for the same reason. Try a damp towel to grip the lid and turn. Most refrigerated jars have been opened already, and may be stuck because of dried food or condiments between the lid and the jar. Try using warm water, instead of hot to try to rehydrate the dried bits and make it easier to twist the lid.


  • Be very careful not to burn yourself when using a lighter to heat up the lid of a jar.
  • Don’t use a hair dryer to heat up lids that have any plastic components. You could melt the plastic.
  • Check the rim after removing the lid for chips of glass that may have broken off during your efforts to loosen it (they could be in the food).
  • Be careful when using butter knives to open a jar. They may not seem sharp, but if one slips while you are applying force to it, you can experience a very nasty cut.

Things You’ll Need

  • Dish towel
  • Rubber kitchen gloves
  • Plastic wrap
  • Rubber band
  • Wooden kitchen spoon
  • Butter knife or metal spoon
  • Dish of hot water
  • Hair dryer
  • Dryer sheet
  • Lighter

About This Article

wikiHow Staff
Co-authored by:
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This article was co-authored by wikiHow Staff. Our trained team of editors and researchers validate articles for accuracy and comprehensiveness. wikiHow's Content Management Team carefully monitors the work from our editorial staff to ensure that each article is backed by trusted research and meets our high quality standards. This article has been viewed 2,599,031 times.
99 votes - 63%
Co-authors: 75
Updated: November 30, 2023
Views: 2,599,031
Article SummaryX

If you’re having trouble opening a jar, try using a rubber glove or a wide rubber band to help you get a better grip on the lid. If that doesn’t work, hold the jar tightly in your non-dominant hand and tilt it at a 45-degree angle so you can see the bottom. Then, slap the bottom of the jar with your dominant hand firmly, but not so hard that you hurt your hand or break the jar! If it works, you should hear a pop, and the lid should come off easily. For tips on using heat to loosen a lid, read on!

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