Buying Guide to Can Openers

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5 Things to Know Before You Buy

Can openers are an essential kitchen workhorse, and the right model can make the task of opening cans effortless. Choosing a reliable, smoothly functioning can opener for your kitchen arsenal takes considering the following five features and capabilities of this vital small appliance.

Fact #1: Types

The two main categories of can openers from which to choose are manual and electric, and each category has its advantages.

Electric can openers do most of the work for you. You simply attach the can and activate the machine. Such can openers must be located near an electrical outlet and are therefore stationary. They also tend to be larger than manual openers and take up more kitchen space, although there are models that attach to the walls and under cabinets in order to save counter space.

Battery operated can openers are less common, but they do exist. There is even a hands-free model that moves around the top of a can and opens it.

Manual can openers do not require electricity but instead depend on you to attach the can opener and turn the blade to cut the can. Because they don't need electricity to function, manual can openers are mobile and small, easily fitting into a kitchen drawer.

Fact #2: Ease of Use

Can openers are not created equal when it comes to functionality. Some manual and electric models are ergonomically designed with rubber, nonslip handles, and they attach more easily to cans than others, gliding smoothly when you twist the knob that turns the blade.

The more powerful the motor on the electric can opener and the sharper the blade on both types, the easier it will cut through the can. High carbon stainless steel cutting blades work well and stand up to many years of use.

Fact#3: Safety

Traditional-style can openers leave a sharp edge on the can and lid that can be dangerous. Many newer models open the can in such a manner that they produce a safe, smooth edge. Such can openers are preferable, especially if you have young children in the house.

Fact #4: Cleanliness

For hygienic purposes, choose a can opener that has a magnetic lid lifter or lid pliers. Such features keep the lid from falling into the can as you open and also enable you to remove the lid once it's free without using your fingers.

Look for a can opener that is easy to clean with no hidden parts that you are unable to reach. Some electric models have an arm containing the blades that can be removed and cleaned. Some manual can openers are also dishwasher safe.

Fact #5: Multi-Functional

Some can openers come with added functions, such as the ability to open bottles, cut bags and even sharpen knives, which can mean getting a multi-purpose kitchen appliance for the price of one.