JAR OPENER BUYING GUIDE:
how to choose jar opener that works for you
In the Jar Opener Buying Guide, I will share with you in condensed form what I learned doing thorough research of jar openers available on the market. First, we’ll take a look at types of jar openers and discuss their pros and cons. Then, with the help of questions, you will discover your individual jar opening needs. Lastly, we will match your needs to available products. As a result, you will be able to choose a functional jar opener that works, easy to use, suits your needs, and, hopefully, will last a lifetime.
Disclosure: some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase an item through a link, I may earn a commission (at absolutely no extra cost to you). I make my recommendations based on thorough research and/or my personal experience.
Jar opener types
There are two main jar opener types on the market: manual and electric. Each type, in turn, can be divided into more sub-types.
Let’s go through quick descriptions of jar opener types available on the market, so you can get the “big picture”, followed by tables listing advantages and drawbacks of each sub-type. For in-depth discussion and advice on jar opener types, please read related articles about manual jar openers and electric jar openers.
Manual Jar Openers
Manual jar openers help to open jars by providing you with better grip, leverage, or grip and leverage combined. There is a huge variety of manual jar openers on the market. Just look at some representatives on the photos below:
Cone-shaped rubber gripper (from Prepworks by Progressive set) is great for opening bottles and lids of small jars.
The simplest manual jar openers are grippers (or jar grips). They can be made of different materials: (rubber, silicon), have different look, thickness, and shape but their primary function is to help you to get a good grip on the lid to make it easy to unscrew it. For larger lids, thin grippers work the best.
Also, you can place a gripper under the jar to prevent it from sliding on the counter. Or you can grasp a jar’s side with the thin gripper to assist your hand holding the jar. A lightweight gripper is a handy thing to have in your kitchen or pack in your suitcase when going on a trip.
A lever is another simple yet functional device that is used to pry the lid to break the vacuum seal on the jar. Unfortunately, it works only on glass vacuum sealed jars.
The largest group of manual handheld jar openers consists of tools that provide a combination of grip and leverage for the hand that opens the lid.
To this group belong:
1) any jar opener that resembles a strap (loop, grip) wrench;
2) jar openers with two handles and a loop with slots that go around the lid or jaws that squeeze the lid from the sides;
3) spring-loaded arm that grabs the lid at two points;
4) a handle and a pad that grasps the lid at 3 or more points.
You will see at glance the pros and cons of each kind of handheld jar openers that provides grip and leverage in the tables presented later in the article. I just want to add observation from my personal experience: if you are looking for a handheld manual jar openers that is functional and easy to use – the only ones that worthy to consider are those that have a handle and a pad with the teeth ( like Oxo Good Grips with Base Pad, check out video below) or handle and pad with grippers that grab the lid at more than two points ( like Kuhn Rikon The Gripper, see photo below). All the other kinds of handheld manual jar openers do not perform that well: they might get broken easily, slip from the lid, do not provide good grip or leverage, and can cause more frustration than help. Especially, if you are elderly, have arthritis or weak hands – please, don’t spend your money on tools that do not provide assistance to both hands while you are opening jars. Read related Jar openers for arthritic hands.
OXO Good Grips with Base Pad jar opener has sharp stainless steel teeth that grab the lid strongly. It comes with a pad that goes under the jar to prevent the jar from sliding and assist the hand that holds the jar. This way the strain on both hands is reduced. OXO rightfully states that it requires as much force to hold the jar steady as it does to open the lid.
It gives you the ability to
- use both hands to open jar ( though not required, you can support and turn jar with the help of both hands)
- doesn’t cost a lot
- does not take up counter or drawer space in the kitchen
- provides superior grip
- never fails to open jar
Electric Jar Openers
Electric jar openers allow you to open jar with the push of the button. They can be can be battery operated or corded – for plugging into a standard electrical outlet. Electric jar openers are great for people with weak hands or arthritis, and also are suitable for one-handed operation.
Battery operated jar openers work on AA batteries. They have two sets of arms – one set holds the jar while the other one opens the lid. The most popular representatives of this kind of opener are RoboTwist as seen on TV and Open Ease made by Hamilton Beach.
Automatic jar openers that work on batteries are overall quite functional. Customer reviews are somewhat mixed. The biggest problem that I see with all battery operated jar openers is that manufacturers do not recommend them for opening plastic jars, which limits their application. However, people do use these openers on plastic jars anyway and report that they work successfully. The other thing is that it takes a significant amount of time to open a jar (20-60 seconds) using a battery operated jar opener while the opening process is accompanied by a loud whiny noise that these gadgets make.
If you are interested to see a RoboTwist battery operated automatic jar opener in action – watch YouTube video made by Freekin’ reviews below:
Corded electric jar openers work great. They open any kind of jars up to 4 1/2 inches wide and 8 inches tall effortlessly and quickly. There is only one maker producing this kind of device – Black and Decker. Its famous Lids Off – is the Cadillac of jar openers! If you can afford it – good for you! Also, it can make a really useful gift for your aging parents. Lids Off JW 400 model called Open-it-all center combines a jar opener, can opener, and bottle opener in one unit.
Please, read more about Lids Off in One touch jar openers
Watch a video about how Lids Off works in Jar openers for arthritic hands
Now you know about all jar opener types and sub-types that exist on the market today. To recap their “+” and “-” overview the following tables while keeping in mind which features are important for you. (Clicking a jar icon will open a window with an example of the described jar opener kind).
-provides good grip
-takes little space
-good for travelers
– – – – –
-does not give leverage
-not good for people with arthritis and weak hands
-easy to operate
-takes little storage space
-works on vacuum sealed jars
-endorsed by Arthritis Association
– – – – – –
-will not work on plastic jars,mason jars or lids with rim taller than 1/4″
-can assist in jar opening
–opens any size of lid on any type of jar
-can use one for the lid and the other one for the jar itself to prevent it from turning
– – – – –
-can have strong rubber or plastic smell
-not so easy to use
-not good for people with arthritis
+ + + + +
-works OK on smaller lids
– – – – –
-quite large, takes lots of room in the drawer
-hard to use on jars with larger lids
-not good for people with arthritis
-durable steel construction
– breaks vacuum seal easily – – – – –
-not easy to use
-slips from the lid
-can pinch and scrape fingers
-not good for people with arthritis
-OK to use for people with weak hands and arthritis
– the models with steel teeth provide superior grip
-does not slip from the jar lid
– gives good leverage
– – – – –
–can not use the strength of both hands to open jars
-some stubborn jars still can be hard to open
– easiest to use among manual types of the jar opener
-great for seniors, people with weak hands and arthritis
-doesn’t take counter or drawer space
-you can use the strength of both hands to hold and to open jar
– – – – –
-not for people that cannot raise the hands to under cabinet level
-operates with push of a button
-great for people with arthritis, weak hands
-batteries last long
– – – – –
-not for plastic jars
-takes long time to open jar
– very easy to use
– performs great
– opens any type of jar up to 4 1/2 inches wide and 8″ tall
-best choice for people with arthritis and weak hands
-plugs to wall outlet
– – – – –
-just 1 year of warranty
– takes counter space
Discover your individual needs
Now, ask yourself the following questions and mark everything that applies:
Where am I going to use my jar opener?
- at home in the kitchen?
- take on vacation or trips?
- use it on a commercial kitchen?
- give it as a gift for somebody?
If you need a jar opener for home, think about
1) Your hands’ strength:
a) do you usually open jars with no devices or do you often ask somebody for help?
b) do you have arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome or weak hands?
c) can you raise your hands to under cabinet level?
d) do you have elderly people or children at home that need to open jars?
e) does your jar opener need to be operated with just one hand?
a) do you have enough room on a counter that has an electric outlet close by for an electric corded jar opener?
b) do you have enough drawer space for a handheld manual jar opener?
c) do you have free under cabinet space or is it taken by under cabinet lights?
3) What is your budget?
a) under $10
b) under $20?
d) over $100?
4) Is it important for you to get a jar opener with a lifetime warranty?
If you are looking for a tool for your commercial kitchen, ask yourself:
1) Are most of your goods are coming in pails?
2) Do you have space under cabinet or under shelf?
3) Do you have spare counter space for an electric corded jar opener?
If you are thinking about taking a jar opener on trips, the main thing to ask yourself is how strong are your hands.
If you are buying jar opener as a gift, think what the occasion is:
1) Should it be functional yet look elegant? Or is functionality the only consideration?
2) Also, ask yourself how much money you can spend on your gift.
Match your needs to the right kind of jar opener
1) if you are going to use your jar opener at home, your hands are pretty strong, and you just struggle with the occasional stuck on jar lid, any choice among the top 5 jar openers most likely will work for you.
If you have arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome or weak hands, your best choices are under cabinet jar openers and electric jar openers (battery operated and corded). If your arthritis is not severe and you can raise hands to under cabinet level, then an under cabinet jar opener will help you to open jars easily for a very reasonable cost. If you have a larger budget or your arthritis is severe – one touch jar openers will serve you better.
If your jar opener needs to be operated with just one hand, then you can still use an under cabinet jar opener or any of the electric jar openers. Your other option, if your arm is strong, is to use a SoloGrip to hold jars and to function as another hand while removing the lids with a handheld manual jar opener like the previously mentioned Kuhn Rikon Gripper or OXO Good Grips with Base Pad. Please read an in-depth article about One handed jar openers
If you want a functional tool but must watch your budget, your best bet will be openers featured in Budget friendly jar openers.
If you are looking for a jar opener with a lifetime warranty, OXO company provides “lifetime satisfaction”. The EZ Off under cabinet jar opener comes with a lifetime warranty too. Also, the budget friendly under cabinet OxGord jar opener and the expensive under cabinet UNCAPPER device promise lifetime warranties. It is a shame that all electric jar openers: whether battery operated or corded, carry only a 1-year warranty. Check out manufacturers’ warranty and manufacturers’ instructions in Resources section.
If you are looking for a tool for your commercial kitchen ask yourself if your goods are coming in pails instead of jars. If you answered “yes” to this question, then you need a pail opener. Read about pail openers for commercial kitchens here. If you indeed are searching for a jar opener, look if your opener can be attached under cabinet or under a shelf. If so – you most likely will be happy with an under cabinet jar opener. If you have spare counter space and larger budget, then go for an electric corded jar opener.
If you are thinking about taking a jar opener on trips and your hands are pretty strong, then most likely a lightweight rubber gripper sheet or silicone gripper band is all that you need. If you have arthritis though, you might want to take along a handheld jar opener that has a handle for good leverage and a pad with metal teeth for superior grip. Read the article about best jar openers for travelers to learn about your options in more details.
If you are buying a jar opener as a gift, think about how much money you are willing to spend and also what is more important: performance or elegant look? Lids Off looks elegant and is very functional. It is a perfect Christmas or birthday gift for aging parents. It also makes a wonderful wedding gift. But it is quite expensive. Your parents might be perfectly happy with the EZ Off under cabinet jar opener for a fraction of the cost. It is not that elegant, yet very functional. For more jar opener gift ideas read about 5 top jar openers. If the gift is for seniors or people with weak hands read article 1, article 2 and article 3 to learn about best available options.
There are two main types jar openers on the market: manual and electric.
Electric ones are easy to operate but have a few drawbacks: the battery operated ones are not that reliable, electric corded jar openers are good, but very expensive. All electric jar openers have just 1 year of manufacturer warranty.
Among manual jar openers, the most functional one is the under cabinet jar opener kind, because both hands can be used to open jars with it. For people who have enough strength to prevent jars from turning while unscrewing lids, manual handheld jar openers with a handle and a pad that grabs the lid in more than two points can be sufficient. To relieve the strain on both hands a rubber gripper, the Solo Grip, or a base pad can be used in tandem with handheld manual jar openers.
You should take into consideration your individual needs before buying a jar opener. Spending some time on answering the questions and figuring out which jar opener fits your needs the most, will save future frustration and help to select the most convenient and functional tool right from the start.