How to Open a Jar Lid that is Stuck

Is anything more annoying than a jar lid that you can’t get open? Well, okay, there are lots of things more annoying than that, I suppose: George W. Bush opening his mouth to speak, mosquitoes getting inside your screened porch, not being able to put your foot on the accelerator for thirty seconds after a light has changed to green . Seriously, what’s up with that? I can see the people at the front of the line of traffic moving, so why are the thirteen cars between us not moving in immediate concert. I mean, come on! You saw the light turn green, you see the guys ahead of you moving, why in the name of hell does it take half a minute before I can accelerate!!!

But I digress.

Opening a jar lid that simply refuses to pop its top can be aggravating, especially if you are the brawny athletic type who can’t it open only to watch the nerd in the house use science instead of unreliable non-steroidal muscle tissue to get the job done. I imagine all those illiterate athlete are getting pretty tired of watching as nerds steal all the really hot girls from them with their inventions, and their 500,000 shares of Apple and their ability to use science to unstuck stuck jar lids. If you would prefer to be the nerd who gets the job done rather than the brawn who fails to appreciate that high school ended over a decade ago then follow this advice. Even if you aren’t and you just want to pour some delicious Classico Spicy Red Pepper tomato sauce over your chicken and prosciutto stuffed tortellini then read further and put aside stuck jar lids forever along with your Beanie Babies, Pet Rocks and Bush/Cheney bumper stickers.

What makes a jar lid get suck in the first place is the very same scientific principle that makes them possible. Nature, it has been said, abhors a vacuum; so do cooks in the kitchen who desperately want to add mayonnaise to their sandwich. The easiest way to unseal a too tight vacuum that presents an obstacle toward reaching the jarred food product of your desire is to simply pierce the top. Get an icepick or a screwdriver and mallet and go to town. Of course, this line of attack is only in play if you have no plan to reuse the jar’s top. There are any number of cases where this is the way things should be, from tiny little jars of anything to great big jars of jalapenos. If you are planning on reusing the jar lid, however, there is the old tried and true method of holding the jar under water. You have heard this advice before, no doubt, but you have probably heard that you should use hot water. Well, guess what? That’s not correct. Holding a jar with a stuck lid under warm water better facilitates the release of the vacuum. Even better is to keep the jar in the refrigerator until you are ready to open it using the warm water method. If you think all it takes to get a lid unstuck is to apply a firmer grip, you may be right. Sometimes it’s hard to get a good grip, however. Here’s a good tip: apply some rubber bands around the lid. This typically works better than a towel. Then use one of those rubber lid openers and apply full force.

Amazingly, the vacuum of a jar lid can be even more frustrating after it has already been opened and then resealed. The best way to keep this from happening is to clean the dang thing clean. Get a wet rag and wipe around the lid of the jar and the rim. Dried food and that vacuum can create problems you don’t even want to think about, not to mention the danger of bacterial infection that could arise if that dried food gets into your fresh food you are eating.

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