A can opener can also be referred to as a tin opener. This piece of mechanical equipment is purposely made for opening tins or cans. Food storage uses can have been in existence for a long while.

In that sense, just like most machines, can openers have been undergoing improvements from the earliest models of can openers to the most recent models.

The development has been progressive.  The initial model was a can opener with a point cutting edge then one with a rotating cutting edge, followed by a can opener with a rotating cutting edge with gear, and finally a can opener with a side cutter. Aside from the mechanical can openers, electronic can openers exist nowadays.

These pieces of equipment are mostly used in kitchens and restaurants. There’s also a significant use of the can openers in the military. It can be noted that World War brought about the major innovation of the can openers.

This was a better innovation fitted with a cutting blade. Despite the evolution of the can openers, they still do not work with maximum efficiency as expected, there are still some challenges associated with them.

The preference of the kind of can opener to be used differs from the young aged and the old aged. The openers as well need to be cleaned and maintained to remain in a proper operational manner.

Types of Can Openers

Familiarizing with the types of can openers is very important since it may help one in choosing one according to their preference. A better choice will help one save energy as well as their time. Different types of can openers vary in the time taken to open the can, the EMG muscle activation and the wrist angle. The following are the types of can openers;

1. Lever- Type

Opens metal cans by slicing them. It has a blade in the shape of a sickle and on the opposite side another blade that is curved that serves as a shield to prevent diaper penetration of the blade inside the can.

2. Butterfly can opener

Has a wheel that allows cutting the lid in a rotating movement. It also has a crank (key) for penetrating the lid before the rotational cutting motion begins.

3. Church-key can opener

Most preferred by drinkers. It is used to cut off the beer lids and various glass bottles. This type is made of hard-pressed metal and has an edge that is pointed so that it can easily penetrate the lead.

4. Single wheel opener

It is more like the bunker can opener only that it uses a magnet to hold the metal can in place.

5. Electric can opener

Unlike the mechanical can openers, these are the easiest to use. They only require one to press a button and the cutting is done efficiently and very fast.

6. Key opener

They look more like the normal key. They are more efficient for opening containers with thin walls.

7. Bunker opener

It is made of a combination of handles resembling those of pliers, a saw-toothed wheel, and a key.

8. Side can opener

These are the only ones that cut through the lead and completely remove the rim. It has both a serrated wheel as well as a cutting wheel.

9. Countertop opener

This one is for being attached to the kitchen surface and is mostly shipped with a vacuum base that enables the surface attachment. Besides opening, it can also pop-top cans.

10. Manual can opener

This one is pocket friendly except that the user will be expected to do most of the work manually, unsuitable for people with physical problems.

How to Use a Can Opener

Functional parts of a Can Opener

Both electrical and mechanical can openers have more or less the same functional parts.

  • Blade assembly- Holds and aligns the blade with the gear.
  • Crank- for operating the gear.
  • Motor- controls the gear, crank, and the knife.
  • Magnet- maintains the can in position and gets hold of the lid when the cutting is done.
  • Gear /feed gear- for rotating the knife and are connected to the crank.
  • Knife /Blade-for penetrating the metal can lids.
  • Cord storage (under unit) – for storing the cord especially for the electric can opener.
  • Base/handle- Basically for support, it holds the opener in place. In countertop can openers, it is used for mounting the can opener on the surfaces.

Steps for using the Can Opener (The Electric Can Opener)

  1. The blade assembly is often in a separate package from the can opener. It, therefore, needs to be connected to it by correctly matching the key tabs with the key slots. The blade assembly is interlocked and then the can opener is twisted until it is completely locked.
  2. The cord is then plugged into an electrical outlet of 120v.
  3. The can should be placed below the lever and then the leaver is pushed down ensuring the knife is inside the rim.
  4. Once the cutting is done, the opener stops automatically. They can be removed by holding the can in one hand in a tilted position while the other hand brings the lever back to the initial position.
  5. The cord can be unplugged and returned back to the cord unit.

To Increase the Knives Sharpness

A knife sharpener is part of the can opener. So as to increase the sharpness the blade/knife is passed through the sharpener slot in an upward manner towards the user. This process is repeated until the desired sharpness is achieved.

The knife should then be cleaned and kept dry. One should be cautious while using the sharpened knife.

Maintenance of the Can Opener

Maintenance of the Can Opener

  1. The cord should be unplugged before cleaning commences.
  2. Parts that can be easily assembled and dissembled like the blade assembly could be removed by raising the lever and pulling out the part. The cleaning can be hand washing in hot water; it could be rinsed or wiped using a sponge. It is then wiped till dry.
  • The parts can then be correctly assembled back to their initial positions.

Advantages of using Can Openers

  • Most of the openers do not come in contact with the contents of the can.
  • Most of the openers cut the can lid neatly, this reduces the chances of the users hutting themselves due to uneven cutouts.
  • Some are easy to use e.g. the church key opener
  • Some like the single wheel opener have a magnet that helps in holding the can in place for efficient cutting.
  • The electronic opener is easy and quick to use


  • Some like the lever type have sharp blades that could hurt the fingers.
  • The butterfly can opener can be somehow cumbersome to use.
  • The pointed edges like those of the church key can be a risk to the user’s hands.
  • The electric can operator is expensive and requires the use of both hands.
  • Some like the manual can opener base on the user’s physical strength and therefore unsuitable for the elderly and individuals suffering from arthritis.


Most equipment is evolving in nature, there are always dynamics that aim to improve the functionality of the present devices. Despite the drawbacks of the existing can openers, it is important to appreciate the help these devices offer. How would life be without such a small yet very helpful tool? Maybe people would have opted to use knives, which is very risky and inefficient.