Understanding Electric Can Openers

Understanding Electric Can Openers

Investing in an electric can opener is one of the greatest decisions you'll make. The openers work to open the can safer than in traditional methods. Thus, you need to know about the underlying history and mechanics behind them.

Knowing this makes your more of an informed buyer, and makes the shopping process easier. We’ll get you up to speed with the internal mechanics of electric can openers so you can save money on your first purchase.

How Do Electric Can Openers Work

The electric can opener is used through operating a lever. Once the lever lifts, the can's edge is placed between the cutter and the feed gear. A magnet grabs onto and attaches to the top of the can.

Electric Can Opener How it works

Once pressed down, the lever activates a switch, and the motor is turned on. The motor brings power through the gears to rotate the can. Once rotated, the cutter slices through the lid's edge. Once the cutting process is complete, the lid stays on the magnet.

What Is An Electric Can Opener?

Electric can openers are one of the most important appliances you can have in your kitchen. They are great at automating the opening process of cans or lids. The best electric can openers will have certain features such as a lid magnet to prevent the lid from falling into the can.

Your electric can opener should also have a stainless steel type of blade. Stainless steel blades are durable and are resistant to rust. Also, your electric can opener should have a height that's tall enough to cut through most of your cans.

Ever since their invention in the 1930s, electric can openers have been popular amongst homeowners. While they may be more expensive, you'll gain a reliable kitchen tool that works when you need it the most. You'll be able to cook food faster, and prevent yourself from cutting your finger by using an electric can opener.

To understand more about electric can openers, we've created a brief history section about the history of cans. We suggest you look at this section to understand the development of can openers and how they've evolved.

Brief History Of Cans

Since the Neanderthal era, humans have found unique ways to store and preserve their food. Some of these methods included smoking, drying, and fermentation. But, there wasn't a method for preserving food that was in a nearly fresh state. This problem would start to change in 1795

In 1795, the French Directory made a plan in regards to their military food supply. During this time France had fought battles in Germany, Netherlands, Caribbean, and Italy. At this time, the country needed a stable source of food to feed their soldiers before and after wars.

The Directory decided to give a 12,000 franc cash prize for the first person to develop a breakthrough idea in the preservation of food. 14 years later, Napoleon Bonaparte became emperor. While his military was strong, they were also hungry. Nicolas Appert, a young chef from Champagne, became the pioneer of the food preservation techniques we use today.

Nicolas Apper Inventor of Tin Cans

His innovation was to pack the food in the strongest airtight containers he could find. Appert would conceal the food inside champagne bottles and seal it with lime and cheese. His discovery was made on earlier methods, which either preserved food by heat or removed air but couldn't manage to do both.

During 1809, Appert received the 12,000 franc prize for his invention. He won the prize under the Directory's condition that he published his a book explaining his techniques. By 1810, the book "The Art of Preserving, for Several Years, all Animal and Vegetable Substances."

As history progressed, the invention of canned food was crucial to survival during war. Especially in the 19th century where the Civil War, Franco-Prussian War, and the Crimean War. Canned food offered explorers and colonists a taste of home when venturing out into new lands.

After the Great Depression in 1873, canned good exports in the U.S. boomed. They were lead by food manufacturing giants such as Heinz, Campbell, and Borden.

Early Canned Foods

Electric cans were patented in 1931 but were only publicly recognized during 1956. After a few failed inventions from previous companies, Walter Hess Bodie and his family created the first electronic can opener. After placing their product on the market during Christmas season, they were brought with immediate success.

Today, electric openers are mass produced. Each of them has their special features that helps users cut through cans without much of a hassle. Thus, you should get an electric can opener if you want to maximize your potential in the kitchen.

Why Do We Use Cans In The First Place?

Think of the can as a food preserver. When food is not properly stored and contained, its nutrients begin to strip away. After a few days, the food loses its natural taste and smell. As a result, the food becomes inedible and must be thrown away.

Tin cans were invented to preserve food and prevent it from losing its quality. The tin conceals the food from exterior contaminants (bacteria, dirt, etc.) and makes them more edible to eat. Without tin cans, our food would die faster, and the overall food quality in the world would take a negative hit.

Also, canned food makes it easier to cook meals. No longer do you have to spend hours trying to prepare and create a meal for your family. Cans can be used to make large meals at a reduced time than traditional cooking methods. Because of this, cans are the way to go if you need to make food on the run.

Why We Can Food

Cans are great for emergencies. When you're sick or when there's a natural disaster occurring, canned food acts as a source of survival food. Since the can preserves the food pretty well, the cans are the first thing we rush to buy in dire situations.

Overall, the history of cans doesn't just mean the history of an invention. We use cans because throughout history they have been a crucial part towards human survival. Eating canned food ensures that you'll receive the nutrients you need without losing the natural taste of your food.

While you can opt for a manual can, an electric can opener makes your job easier. On average, it will take 30 seconds to open up your cans with an electric can opener fully.

Why You Should Opt For An Electric Opener Instead Of A Regular One


Our main gripe with regular can openers is that they take too long to use correctly. You have to correctly position the opener on the can and slowly peel it open. While your can will still be open, there are better ways to do this process.

Electric Can Openers are fast and convinient

Electric openers are great because they speed up the opening process. You don't have to take any longer than 30 seconds to open a can successfully. Even if they're more expensive, electric openers are great because of the extra convenience and utility they provide.

Daily Care

Electric can openers are better than traditional openers because they are easier to clean. Some electric openers come with detachable blades that you can clean on their own. It only takes a few minutes to clean one and reuse it for other cans.

To clean your electric can opener, simply wipe down the surface and the blades. We recommend using a cotton swab to prevent getting moisture on the motors. Electric tools are easier to take care of and provide better results than regular can openers.

Opening Cans In Volume

There are some occasions where you'll have to open not one, but five cans in one moment. Which tool do you think will help you in this situation? Electric can openers of course! Electric openers give you a huge advantage because you can cut through a multitude of cans in a short amount of time.

Opening A Lot of Cans

When using a manual opener, you have to use extra energy to peel off the top of the can. With electric openers, this process is quick, and you'll have an open can full of fresh food. Because of this, electric can openers are the superior choice over traditional ones.

Types Of Can Openers

Butterfly Can Opener

Butterfly openers can be used by one hand. It holds onto the can as you begin to remove it. It has a serrated wheel to open up the lid. Further, butterfly openers use the church key pattern to cut through the can.

How to Use it: The opening process is simple. Start by placing it towards the edge. The only disadvantage of the butterfly can opener is that it will lead to jagged edge lids. This is because of the serrated blade and it requires a

Church Key Opener

Church key openers are simple openers that are operated by hand. At first, they were used to open the cork of wine bottles. Now, they are handy tools for opening up flat topped beer cans. It consists of one piece of pressed metal and uses a pointed edge to pierce through the lid.

Church Key Opener For Cans

How to Use it: Use your left hand to hold the can. Secure and place the guard at the edge of the can. Lift the opener in one firm and quick motion. This will rip open a part of the can and allow you to pour out and use the food stored inside of it.

Rotating Wheel Opener

Rotating wheel openers have a finer grate. This allows you to cut through your lid with a clean and smooth finish. It has magnets which are used to hold the cans correctly, and the wheel is wheel is controlled by the top of it.

How to Use It: With the wheel next to the rim, put the opener on top of the lid. Crank the key to turn the wheel. Doing this allows you to slice open the lid with ease.

Lever Type Opener

The lever type opener is one of the earliest can opener designed to cut through cans. It has a large curved blade that's protected by a guard on the other end. This makes it easier to stop the blade from cutting deeply into the can.

How to Use It: Cut the lid around the rim of the can. Then, push the sharp sickle on the can and saw around the edge. You have to be careful using this opener because it gives you a very sharp lid and container.

Electric Can Opener

The electric can opener has magnets that keep the can in place. Then, you can watch it easily cut through cans once it starts slicing through the lid.

Electric Opener for Cans

How to Use It: Place the can right under the opener. The can begins to rotate, which causes the wheel to remove the top of the can. In the end, the magnets will separate, and the lid will come off of the can.

Under Cabinet Electric Can Opener

These can openers are known for their bulky, square shaped design. They offer more power than other openers, and Under cabinet can openers are great if you have limited space and need an opener to remove multiple cans at once.

How to Use It: Place up to three cans inside the opener. Within a few seconds, watch as your can's start to open up. Remove the cans from the electric can opener and prepare them for cooking.

Smooth Cut Electric Can Opener

Unlike regular electric can openers, smooth cut electric can openers approach the task of opening up a can in an alternative way. Instead of cutting the lid's interior, the opener pries through the outer lid, so the entire can will lift up and fall off. Even if the can is dented, a smooth cut can opener can do the job correctly.

Smooth Cut Can Opener

How to Use It: It's simple to use smooth cut electric can openers. Simply place it on top of the can and watch it pry open the lid. The can opener leaves smooth edges on the can or lid. As a result, you'll open up your can without cutting yourself by accident.

How To Use An Electric Can Opener

  • Place your electric can opener on a flat, sturdy surface. A great place would be the table top or the counter top. Some operators are made to be placed on the counter. If this is true for your electric can opener, then you can skip this step.
  • Depending on the model of your can opener, rotate or raise the handle. This step will separate two main components of the opener: The sharp blade, which is used to slice and puncture through the top edge of the can. And a serrated metal disc which is used to turn the can.
  • Position the can along the serrated disc. The disc is mounted on the opener horizontally. The can's lower lip will rest on the disc's top. As a result, this allows the disc to rotate and open the can.
  • Lower or rotate the hand of your opener. This step will cause for the disc to puncture and cut through the lid of the can.
  • Place the handle completely down to activate the opener. The serrated disc will begin to turn the can. And the cutting disc cuts through the thick metal rim. Rotate or raise the lever of the can opener to use the can as desired.

Maintenance And Cleaning

With maintenance, you can have your electric can opener last for years. After cutting open cans for a while, you start to see metal shavings, a paper build up, and food that's stuck on the turning gear and the cutting blade.

Make sure you unplug the appliance before you begin cleaning. The blades are sharp, and you might accidentally cut yourself if you're not careful. In most situations, the lever can be easily taken off opener by pulling forward. This grants you easier access to the gear and blade.

Cleaning a Can Opener

Most problems with electric openers can be fixed through proper maintenance. Cleaning your wheels and cutter will make a huge difference in your opener's performance. Unplug your can opener, clean up certain parts with a mild detergent and a toothbrush.

Wipe off any excess residue, and lubricate with a white or oil lubricant. Make sure to remove any extra lubricant, so it doesn't get into your food.

How To Repair An Electric Can Opener

Repairing your can opener is easy. You can fix the switch, grindstone, gear, or motor.

Switch Repair

A defective switch will reduce the quality of your can opener. Here are a few steps to take to get it working functionally again.

  • Remove the cover to see how the machine operates.
  • Push down on the lever to make sure it comes in contact with the switch. If not, look for and remove any obstruction or re position the lever, so it makes contact.
  • If your switch doesn't work, unplug the machine and test it with a multitester or a community tester.
  • If your contacts are corroded, you'll have to use emery paper that's stuck in pliers to clean them. If you notice a broken contact on the device, replace it.
  • Mark and remove all the wires, loosen up the switch, and remove it from the opener's housing. Replace it with a switch that's compatible with your can opener and one that's recommended by the manufacturer.

Motor Repair

Electric can openers and other appliances that don't have extensive power use shaded pole motor. The motor has fewer parts.

Gear Repair

Gears turn the motor power into torque that will turn the can. This requires a large gear in the appliance and a shorter gear placed on the edge. To inspect and replace your gears:

  • Check the feed gear and replace it if it's broken or clean if the gear is dirty.
  • Inspect the internal gears by opening the appliance and removing the gears. The teeth might be warped or missing, or the gears will need some lubrication with white lubricant. If the gears have to be replaced, make sure the gears match in every aspect in regards to circumference, number of teeth, and width.
  • If a replacement can't be found, consider using metal or plastic glue to repair the broken gear. When you're done, make sure to reassemble the gears carefully. Then, test the opener to see if it works.
  • Make sure that you check the bearings for wear that will cause the can opener's shaft to wobble. Take out the rotor the check for excessive wear or damage.

Safety Tips

Locking Mechanism

It may not seem useful at first, but a can opener that can lock tightly is an important safety feature. This is because if your knob takes too long to turn, it will require more hand strength to turn it. As a result, hard to turn knobs will increase the likelihood of you getting into an accident.


Out of every safety risk that you'll encounter, sharp edges is the most common. Especially if you have children, where one cut can lead to serious injuries to them. As a rule of thumb, avoid touching the lid even if you have a smooth cut electric can opener. Doing this prevents the opener from slicing open your hand.

Sharp Tin Can Edges After Cutting

Easy Opening And Turning

Easy turning locking mechanisms usually come with sharp blades and additional parts that helps you cut to through the can's lid. The stronger your can opener is at opening up your food can, the better it will be for you utilize it. Make sure that it doesn't create subtle sharp edges on the can.

Opener Strength

Your can opener must be durable enough to work on every can that you use. You'll need a can opener with a substantial amount of strength to cut them open correctly. If you tend to open up a lot of cans or one made of strong metal.

Make sure that you use the right opener for this situation. Getting a low-quality opener will cause the can to break. This will lead to a lot of injuries such scrapes or cuts from the broken opener. And if your can opener isn't able to open up the can, chances are you're adding extra pain in your hands.

Strong Working Can Opener


We hope that our educational guide has helped you understand electric can openers. But, there are a few things that are still left unsaid. Look into our buying guide so you'll find some high-quality electric can openers to aid you in the kitchen.


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