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Different Types of Can Openers and the Correct Way to Use Them

Types of Can Openers
A kitchen must-have, a can opener is used specifically to cut into packaged tin cans. Acquaint yourself with the varieties available in the market.
Cheryl Mascarenhas
Last Updated: Mar 19, 2018
Can Opener Notables
1858 - Ezra Warner patented the first can opener
1870 - William Lyman invented the rotating wheel opener
1956 - Udico produced the first popular electric can opener
1966 - Ermal Fraze invented the pull-open can
A can opener, simply understood, is a device that eases the process of cutting into a metal can. The opener works in a simple procedure―that of puncturing into the metal and ripping off the top cover of the can.

Depending on the mechanism used to cut into the can, the openers are categorized into different types. However, each of these openers have a sharp object that helps cut into the lid of the can, thus, ripping it apart. Having said that, possessing the right can opener to do the job saves you a lot of time and energy.

There are manual openers that require you to turn a crank for the lid to be separated and the automatic ones that open the tin with ease. Take a look at the types mentioned below before opting to purchase one.
Claw-shaped Opener
Claw-shaped Opener
The claw-shaped opener, also known as lever-type opener, was one of the foremost designs used to slice open cans. It is a hand-operated tool that features a large curved blade with a guard on the other end to stop it from penetrating deep into the can.

Usage: Puncture the lid along the rim of the can, drive the sharp sickle into the can, and saw along the edge. Be very careful while using this opener as it leaves you with a rather sharp-edged container and lid.
Church Key Opener
Church Key Opener
This simple hand-operated opener, initially used to pry open the crown cork of glass bottles, is used to open flat top beer cans. It is made using a single piece of pressed metal and consists of a pointed edge that is used to pierce the lid.

Usage: Hold the can with your left hand, secure the guard at the edge of the can, and puncture it using the pointed edge of the opener. Lifting the opener with a quick and firm move will rip a part of the can. , giving you access to pour out the contents.
Key Opener
Key Opener
This opener consists of a single twisted piece of metal resembling a door key. Used to open thin-walled cans, these openers are generally attached to the container itself.

Usage: Using this key is as simple as twisting it in a particular direction so as to tear and roll up a strip on the side of the can. You will find a couple of such keys placed on the lid to roll it from one edge to the other.
Bunker Opener
Bunker Opener
A one-handed opener, the bunker firmly grips the can while you crank the key that rotates the serrated wheel. In short, the bunker is made of plier-type handles, a key, and a serrated wheel to ease the task of opening cans.

Usage: Grip the can with pliers, turn the knob or the key, and cut through the lid with the serrated wheel.
Butterfly Opener
Butterfly Opener
Very much like the bunker opener, this type incorporates the church key pattern to puncture the can. The serrated wheel helps cut into the lid.

Usage: Puncture the lid with the pointed church key end, following which you can secure it with the pliers. Crank the lever to cut through the lid with the sharp wheel.
Single Wheel Opener
Single Wheel Opener
The single wheel opener has a finer grate, allowing you to cut through the lid with a smooth finish. It comes equipped with magnets to hold the can in place, while the wheel cuts through the rim.

Usage: Place the opener on top of the lid with the wheel close to the rim. Slice through the lid with ease by cranking the key to turn the wheel.
Side Can Opener
Side Can Opener
The side can opener comes equipped with a serrated feed wheel in addition to the cutting wheel, giving you a better grip while slicing through the lid. It is designed to cut the outside rim of the can, thus, leaving you with a smooth finish.

Usage: Place the raised edge of the opener along the raised edge of the can. Twist the knob to cut through the can.
Countertop Opener
Countertop or Hand-held Opener
These openers generally have a vacuum base that can be secured on the kitchen counter. The groove holds on to the protruding lip of the can and slices the lid open.

Usage: Secure the opener in place. Hold the base of the tin, and turn the knob with the other hand. The sharp wheel will slice into the lid, giving you a neatly opened can.
Electric Opener
The electric opener comes equipped with magnets to hold the can in place, which allows you to watch in awe as it goes about slicing through the lid.

Usage: Position the can under the opener. The can will rotate, thus, allowing the wheel to rip open the top. Magnets will then separate the lid from the can.
Pull Tabs
Pull Tabs
Modern cola cans and tins come equipped with pull tabs, allowing one to easily open the can and consume the contents. Most thinner tins and cans come equipped with this mechanism.

Usage: Lifting the tab punctures the tin. It then either rolls or lifts the lid off completely.
Modified Versions of Openers
Hand-held Claw
Hand-held Claw or military opener
Bunker with Bottle Opener
Modified Bunker with Bottle Opener
Church Key with Bottle Opener
Modified Church Key with Bottle Opener
Besides the types mentioned here, you will find mini handheld, battery-operated lid openers that make work easy. As a rule, keep an electric opener as well as a manual-operated can opener in your kitchen.