Can Openers

From Cook's Country | October/November 2008

Overview:

Update: January 2014

Our top-rated can opener from OXO has been discontinued. The runner-up by Kuhn Rikon is our new winner.

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Traditional can openers cut through can lids from the top, leaving sharp edges on the lids (which sit atop the contents and must be fished out). Safety can openers, on the other hand, cut from the side and remove the entire top part of the can (lid and all), leaving dull “safe” edges behind. In a previous testing featuring both types, our favorite was a $35 safety can opener by Rösle. Hoping to find a less-expensive alternative, we rounded up six safety openers as well as two traditional openers boasting “safer” operation; all models are priced under $20.

Update: January 2014

Our top-rated can opener from OXO has been discontinued. The runner-up by Kuhn Rikon is our new winner.

___________________________________________________________

Traditional can openers cut through can lids from the top, leaving sharp edges on the lids (which sit atop the contents and must be fished out). Safety can openers, on the other hand, cut from the side and remove the entire top part of the can (lid and all), leaving dull “safe” edges behind. In a previous testing featuring both types, our favorite was a $35 safety can opener by Rösle. Hoping to find a less-expensive alternative, we rounded up six safety openers as well as two traditional openers boasting “safer” operation; all models are priced under $20.

Methodology:

We tested six safety openers as well as two traditional openers boasting “safer” operation; all models are priced under $20.

ATTACHMENT ISSUES

Efficiency starts with locking onto the cans. Safety can openers come in two basic designs: top mounting and side mounting. Side-mounting openers proved to be much less intuitive for first-time users; testers had particular difficulty getting one opener to attach. Top-mounting openers (their turning cranks are parallel to the counter) attach by scissor action; two models were especially easy to attach. The two traditional can openers have locking mechanisms with push-button releases; this worked great on one, but several testers had trouble disengaging the another opener from the cans.

EASE OF OPERATION

Testers preferred openers with easy, smooth-turning motions. The biggest loser here was a safety opener, which required too much muscle to use comfortably. Handles on two openers were angled so that short tuna cans tilted and spilled liquid when not opened with the handle hanging over the counter: a major flaw. Left-handed and right-handed testers had similar experiences with all models tested.

SAFETY MATTERS

Whether a lid is sharp (from a traditional opener) or dull-edged (from a safety opener), the danger lies in having to handle it; the best openers allow no-touch lid disposal. Two safety openers had metal pincers that gripped the lid for safe disposal. The side-mounting safety openers were downgraded for lacking mechanisms for no-touch lid disposal. The two traditional openers we included had magnets designed for no-touch lid disposal.

SUMMING UP

In opening over 120 cans, we found that there isn’t a single style of opener that works best. Our surprise winner left sharp edges, but its lid-catching magnet made disposing of the lid easy and safe. This opener was intuitive, comfortable, and efficient.

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