BEST MANUAL JAR OPENERS:
an overview and recommendations
Manual jar openers can be divided into two groups: handheld and under cabinet.
All manual handheld devices improve the grip or increase both grip and leverage for the hand that is turning the lid.
Under cabinet manual jar openers allow you to use both hands to support and turn the jar while the opener grips the lid.
Let’s do a quick overview of jar openers on the market to show you available options and equip you with the knowledge needed to choose manual jar opener that fits your needs.
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Handheld manual jar openers
The simplest jar opener is a gripper. It can be made from different material (rubber, silicone, material that looks like non-slip drawer liner). A gripper provides the hand that opens the jar with a better grip.
Some people use a silicone oven mitt or silicone potholder to assist them in opening jars. I find these silicone items too bulky for the job. A better alternative is to get thinner and more flexible grippers made of rubber. They are very handy and affordable. It is a good idea to have one in your kitchen or take along on trips.
There are plenty of companies manufacturing jar lid grippers, but my favorite is the Prepworks made by Progressive International set of three rubber grippers. Two of them are very thin and flexible which I like because that gives you a really good grip on larger lids. The red cone-shaped gripper is thicker and great to use on bottle caps or thin tall jars.
You can use two grippers at once when you are opening a jar: one gripper placed over the lid assists the hand that opens the lid, and the other gripper is placed under the jar to prevent it from slipping on the counter – which helps the hand that holds the jar.
Another kind of very simple yet effective jar opener is one that is used as a lever to pry up jar lid.
An example of this kind of opener is a key handheld jar opener. It is used to gently pry up on the jar lid and release the seal. After the seal is broken – it is very easy to unscrew the lid. If you are interested in this kind of opener – Amazon carries Brix Jarkey made of plastic, and model 2251 made of metal. These gadgets are manufactured in Denmark.
Combination of grip and handle
Most of the handheld jar openers are a combination of grip and a handle (or handles) for leverage.
1) A loop (strap, grip) wrench is not a manual jar opener per se but can be used like one.
The pictured Grip Wrench is what I was using in the days when I was searching for a gadget that would allow me to open a jar of pickles without the help of my husband. 🙂 To tell the truth – help from husband was still needed, my other hand didn’t have enough strength to keep jars from slipping and turning.
Later I read that some people use two strap wrenches to open the jar: one to hold the jar, and the other one to unscrew the lid. ( Learn more creative ways to open a jar here). It might work well but seems way to complicated and time-consuming, especially if other options are available.
2) Another kind of manual jar opener available on the market is a tool that goes around the lid and has two handles.
The cheap version of this kind of the opener looks like a loop with round slots to fit around the different lid sizes (see the picture below). You need to pick a slot on the jar opener that fits the lid size, place the opener around the lid, squeeze the handles and make a counterclockwise turn.
Well, I tried to do that and the opener snapped in half without even squeezing the handles. (Read about it in Best jar openers for arthritic hands).
Unfortunately, this kind of opener often is advertised as good for arthritis sufferers. Though it might work well to open a bottle, it is not so for a jar. You need to have a gigantic hand to be able to squeeze and turn two handles that end up spread far apart when you try to open a jar with a lid that fits the largest jar opener slot.
In my opinion, it is much easier to open a jar with just a rubber gripper than with the described and pictured below jar opener.
An alternative to this tool that works on a similar principle is the well made Leifheit stainless steel extra wide jar opener (model 03131).
3) One more kind of handheld manual jar opener has an adjustable metal arm that clamps on two opposite points on the lid of the jar (like Swing-A-Way in the photo).
To operate it you need to clamp the device over the lid by squeezing the handles together and then open the lid by making a counterclockwise turn.
The opener does break the vacuum seal if the handles are squeezed strongly. But very often I couldn’t turn the lid, because of lack of strength in my hands.
Also, sometimes this opener slips from the jar. This gadget might work for some people. I, personally, do not like it.
4) Handheld jar openers that have a handle for leverage and a pad that hold the lid in more than two points, preventing it from slipping and providing better grip, is much smarter design.
For example, Kuhn Rikon gripper jar opener (pictured at the end of the article) has a pad that goes over the jar lid and grips it in 3 points. Simply place the opener over the jar, turn the knob clockwise to tighten jaws onto the lid, then grasp the handle and turn counterclockwise to open the lid. At the end turn the knob counterclockwise to release the lid.
5) Jar openers that have a handle attached to a V-shaped (fan like) pad with a row of metal teeth.
They work on most lid sizes and are easy to use. The steel teeth grab the lid firmly, while your hand grips the handle to open a jar in a counterclockwise motion. This kind of opener is designed like an under cabinet jar opener but for handheld operation.
My favorite device in this category is OXO Good Grips with base pad. I like that it is dishwasher safe, carries a lifetime warranty and comes with the nonslip pad to place under the jar to ensure its stability on the counter, which helps the other hand to hold the jar firmly. The other models in this category are: already mentioned Pampered Chef jar opener, and RtreeK jar opener.
Under cabinet manual jar openers
As was mentioned before, the problem with all manual handheld jar openers is that you can use the strength of just one hand.
Luckily, there is a solution to this problem – the under cabinet jar opener. It is the only kind of manual opener where the strength of both hands can be used to hold onto the jar itself.
Read an in-depth article about this kind of opener in One-handed jar openers
My favorite jar opener in this category is EZ Off opener. I like it the most because it has 2 rows of hardened metal teeth that grip the jar really strong. I also like that you can open any size of lid or cap with it: from nail polish to pickle jars (up to 6″). In my opinion, this is the best manual jar opener for people with arthritis, weak hands, and elderly if they can not afford an electric corded type of jar opener or just want to save counter space. The fact that it is made in the USA and has a lifetime warranty adds even more positive points for this jar opener.
Final thoughts on manual jar openers
Manual jar openers can be divided into handheld and under cabinet category.
There are a lot of styles of handheld jar openers: those that give a good grip, leverage, or grip and leverage combined.
Handheld manual jar openers help to ease the job for the hand that opens the lid.
Under cabinet jar openers allow the use of the strength of both hands to open jars, which makes opening jars an easy task.
The best manual jar openers, for ease of opening jars, would be (listing from the best to good):
1) under cabinet type ( EZ Off jar opener),
2) handheld jar openers that have a handle with a fan-like pad with a row of metal teeth (OXO Good Grips with base pad),
3) handheld jar openers with a handle and a pad that grabs the lid in more than two points (Kuhn Rikon The Gripper),
4) rubber grippers (Prepworks by Progressive International).
You can compare the best manual jar openers side-by-side in the tables below.
– manual, under cabinet jar opener;
– well made (2 rows of hardened metal teeth);
– you can use strength of both hands while opening jar;
– opens caps and lids up to 6″ wide;
-easy to use;
-easy on hands;
– does not take much space in the kitchen: hidden under the counter;
– made in the U.S.A.;
– lifetime warranty
– handheld manual jar opener;
– well made (sturdy plastic construction, metal grippers);
– opens smooth-sided and grooved caps and lids from 1″ to 3.5″;
– easy to use;
– easy on hands;
– wipe with a dry towel;
– Swiss designed, made in China;
– 2-year warranty
– handheld manual jar opener;
– well made ( stainless steel teeth);
– works for all sizes of jars and bottles with lid or cap diameter 3/4″- 4″
– easy to use;
– easy on hands;
– includes a base pad to hold jar steady on the counter;
– non-slip grip handle;
– dishwasher safe, the pad should be hand washed;
– lifetime warranty