14 Ways to Open a Stuck Jar – A Helpful Guide

I think at one point in our life, we have all been there — you’re in the kitchen, and you want a snack, maybe a sandwich, and whatever the item is, it’s a jar that just will not open. You’re struggling; you’re straining, and try as you might, that jar just wouldn’t budge. So what do you do in situations like this?

Toss the jar back in the fridge or pantry and say forget it!? Of course, not! You’re starving. There’s no denying that being unable to open a jar can be ultimately frustrating, especially when your tummy is grumbling or you’re trying to cook a delicious meal. So maybe the next time you’re in a pickle, these helpful hacks will help you easily open any jar — pickles included.

Add a Little Traction

Sometimes a stuck jar just needs a little help or traction. It could be that your hands are wet and sweaty, so you’re not getting enough traction. Dry your hand, or try wrapping a small towel around the lid. If you find the towel is slipping, you can also dampen the towel a little bit.

Here are some other household items that can be used to wrap around the lid and create traction:

  • Dryer Sheet
  • Plastic Wrap
  • Placemat
  • Your Shirt
  • Oven Mitt
Photo Credit: Envato Elements

Pop the Seal

If your jar has never been opened before, it’s possible that the seal is extremely tight. New jars are vacuumed sealed; sometimes, this seal is hard to release. Here are a few different methods you can try to try and release that seal

  • “Baby Pat” – turn the jar over and hold it at a 45-degree angle. With the heel of your palm, beat or “pat” the bottom of the jar several times. (You may even hear the pop noise indicating that the seal has been broken) Flip the jar back upright, and you should be able to pop the seal open.
  • Butter Knife – hold the jar upright, and using the butter knife handle, tap the jar around the lid with a sweeping motion rotating the jar as you go.
  • Counter – You can alternately also bang the edge of the jar lid against your counter. Just do this with caution, as you do not want to break the glass or damage your counter.
Photo Credit: Envato Elements

Anything Rubber

Rubber will be your best friend if you are unable to open a jar. Anything rubber will help you get a grip on the jar and your sanity. So bring back peace and calmness, and open that jar so you can feed yourself and move on with your life!

A pair of rubber gloves will do the trick. Simply place on the rubber gloves and twist. This will allow you to grab a better hold. You could also use some rubber bands and just wrap them around the lid a few times and twist. In a real pinch, a rubber shelf liner will work, too.

close up of woman wearing yellow rubber gloves
Photo Credit: kazoka30 via Canva

Duct Tape

You can open a stuck jar with duct tape in just a minute or two. Just simply tear off about a foot of duct tape, then line up the bottom edge of the tape with the bottom of the lid. Next, wrap the tape three-quarters of the way around the lid, and fold the rest of the strip in half, lengthwise, forming a sort of makeshift handle. Lastly, hold the jar in one hand and pull your DIY handle with the other, and viola!

Hot Water

Jars get stuck for many reasons, but one of the main culprits for a jar becoming stuck once it’s already been opened is if the contents inside are sticky. Think of foods like honey — when you use honey, and if some of it spills out over the sides when you put the lid back on, the honey will stick in between the lid and the ridges creating a new sticky seal.

The best way to deal with instances like this is to enlist the help of hot water. Run your tap on high hot water until it’s as hot as it can go. Take the jar and run it under the hot water. The heat will cause the metal lid to expand faster than the glass jar, making the seal easier to break. This technique works especially well if the jar is cold to begin with. The seal should break in about two minutes.

Vertical shot of glass jar of honey and wooden dipper. Honey composition close-up.
Photo Credit: stockfilmstudio via Envato Elements

Tip: When it comes to sticky foods like honey, a way to prevent the lid from becoming stuck is to wipe the jar rim with a damp clean towel before putting the lid back on when you are done with it. This will prevent it from getting stuck the next time you want to use it. 

A Secondary Hot Water Method

As well as running your jar under hot water, you can fill a bowl with enough hot water to cover the lid, place the jar in the bowl upside down and let it sit for 30 – 1 minute. If the jar is really stuck, you can try boiling the water to make sure the water is hot enough.

Hair Dryer

If you’re in a real pickle and the hot water doesn’t seem to work, you can try a hair dryer. Only use a hair dryer on glass or metal jars, though. If the jar is plastic, the hair dryer may melt it.

Place your jar on a sturdy surface and work the hair dryer on high heat around the lid of the jar to loosen the lid away from the jar.

Use Leverage

Just like we suggested using traction, leverage can also be a good idea when your lid is stuck on your jar. This approach requires a long, smooth, and powerful utensil that has a small enough edge to fit under the lip of the jar. A butter knife, a small spoon, or the tip of a screwdriver can be used.

Place the edge of the utensil under the lip of the jar at a 45-degree angle with a firm hand and slowly wiggle it around the seal. This movement equalizes the pressure and breaks the seal.

Safety Tip – Exercise caution with this method and make sure that you have a firm handle on the jar. You don’t want the utensil to slip and cause injury. 

Wooden Spoon

While this approach may be the most straightforward, it also has some challenges since you could inadvertently end up making the seal even more powerful if you’re trying to break a vacuum seal.

Use the wooden spoon method when re-opening a jar that has gotten stuck due to trapped food instead of using this trick on an unopened jar. Tap the outside edge of the lid with a wooden spoon or rolling pin to dislodge any sticky food that is stopping the lid jar from opening.

Enlist a Friend

If you have a friend or family member close by and you’re at a complete loss, enlist their help. Have one person hold the jar in a secure position, and then the other person twist the lid with might and strength. While this isn’t the most helpful method as you may be in the kitchen alone, it’s certainly worth a try if someone else is nearby.

Jar Opening Gadget

Ahh, modern inventions! They’re great, aren’t they? It may be worthwhile to prevent these problems altogether by ensuring your kitchen is equipped with a jar-opening gadget. There are several available on the market today, and these gadgets make opening jars so much easier.

These gadgets are great for those that live alone, the elderly that often have a hard time opening jars that aren’t even stuck, and would make a great stocking stuffer for Christmas.

elderly hands opening stuck jar close up
Photo Credit: bloodstone via Canva

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why do jars get stuck?

It could be that there’s some food trapped around the rim of the jar or a sticky sauce causing the lid to get stuck on the jar. Tapping the lid on top and around the edges, again using a heavier object such as the back of a butter knife or wooden rolling pin, can help dislodge the food, ultimately loosening the jar.

What’s the best way to open a tight plastic jar?

Plastic jars typically have plastic screw-on caps. You can occasionally loosen these caps by running warm water over them, which can cause them to expand a little. You can also try holding the jar upside down and pouring warm vinegar over it, so it gets into the space between the lid and the top of the jar. This may help expand and lubricate the lid, so it’s easier to get off.

How do you open a mason jar lid?

A mason jar has two parts to the lid. First, you need to remove the screw band, which is the ring around the lid of the jar. You may be able to do this with a rubber jar grip or tap the seal loose as you would with a regular vacuum-sealed metal jar lid. Once the screw band is off, use the flat edge of a butter knife to pry up the flat cap on top of the jar.

Will my glass jar break when using heat to help remove a lid?

When it comes to glass, you should be extremely careful not to let the hot water touch any cold glass. This could cause the glass to shatter. Avoid using direct heat on it for the same reason. Most refrigerated jars have been opened already and may be stuck because of dried sticky food between the lid and the jar. Try using warm water, instead of hot to try to rehydrate the dried bits and make it easier to twist the lid.