Choosing a new tin opener

Choosing a new tin opener

Tin openers are used to remove the lid of a tin so the contents can be removed or can be used to puncture the tin on either side to release, for example, evaporated milk. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (Rospa) reported that 14,555 accidents related to opening tins occurred in the UK during 2002.

Factors to consider before purchase:

  • Are you regularly opening tins?
  • If so, what type of tins? Many tin openers are designed for a range of diameters only (often around 10cm / 4") so if you are opening larger size tins check whether the tin opener will work before purchase. Some tin openers are harder to use with smaller tins like tuna ones.
  • If you have low vision it may be worth choosing a tin opener that colour contrasts with your work surface or is a bright colour you can spot when stored in a drawer.1
  • The ease of use of a tin opener, can depend on how proud the the rim of the can is.
  • Many tins now have ring pulls, if you have difficulty pulling back ring pulls an opener for can ring pulls may be useful.
  • Are you right or left handed? Most tin openers are designed for right hand use. Left handed tin openers can be purchased and some of these are included in our product information.
  • Do you have the use of only one hand? Consider a hand held electric tin opener (see below).
  • If your wrist strength and/or or hand grip is reduced then consider using a manual tin opener with larger moulded handle or an electric tin opener.

Types of tin opener

Manual tin openers

There are two main types of manual tin openers: handheld and wall mounted.

These tin openers may be top opening or side opening. Top opening tin openers such as butterfly tin opener cut inside the top of the tin.The lid is left with a sharp edge and will fall into the tin unless the tin opener has a magnet to stop this. However the loose lid can be used to drain the tin contents. Side opening tin openers remove the top of the tin, the tin body will have the sharp edge.

Electric can openers

There are two main types of electric tin openers: handheld and free standing.

An electric tin opener may require less strength and dexterity to use than a manual tin opener and may be used one-handed. A magnet attaches to the lid of the tin and the opener stops once the lid has been removed. Some are battery-operated.

Hand held tin openers can be helpful for people with reduced upper limb strength and reduced hand grip. They can be used right or left handed.

These electric, mains powered tin openers stand on the worktop. This means you do not need to support their weight, however they generally require two hands to operate. They are often combined with other functions such as a bottle opener or a knife sharpener.

Further information:

You may also like to view our advice on:
- Opening ring pulls on tins.
- Opening aluminium cans.

Advice last checked: 20 April 2017 Next check due: 20 April 2020

All advice is either supported by references (cited in the text) or is based upon peer reviewed professional opinion. Our advice is impartial and not influenced by sponsors or product suppliers listed on the site.
Conflict of interest statement

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