I’m Cassidy Olsen, and I’m the food and kitchen writer here at Reviewed. While I like to use fresh foods as often as possible in my home kitchen, you can’t beat the price and convenience of canned goods. A crunchy tuna fish sandwich is one of my favorite lunches (sorry, haters!) and I’ve encountered some truly awful can openers in my pursuit of this meal, so I was excited to get to the bottom of which opener I should buy for my new apartment. I didn’t grow up using electric openers, so they weren’t as intuitive to use for me as they might be to others, and I took that into consideration throughout testing.
We tested these electric openers alongside manual openers and ran them through the same can-opening obstacle course—with one exception. While we used all openers on three types of cans of different shapes and sizes, electric openers were given an additional, 48-ounce can of chicken broth to open, which helped us measure how likely they were to tip or spill when dealing with immense volumes.
We timed how long each opener took to open each can and took into consideration the ease and result of the process as a whole. Did the opener stay attached to the can’s edges? Did it know when to stop on its own? Did it need to be manually pressed the entire time, or just once? Did it splatter the can’s contents after one full rotation? I suffered through smelling a combination of tuna fish and tomato sauce for weeks to get to the bottom of these questions.
Traditional or Safety?
Traditional can openers—the ones you’re probably best acquainted with—attach to a can’s rim and pierce the lid from the top, resulting in a sharp, potentially jagged lid. On the other hand, safety openers allow the blade to cut through the side of a can near the top, resulting in the smooth separation of the can into two pieces with flat, even edges. Because cans have thinner lids than sides, traditional openers have to do less work than their safety counterparts and are generally more efficient and durable.
While we tested five popular manual safety openers, we didn’t feel the need to test as many electric safety openers. Why? The nature of electric openers makes the “safety” aspect a lot less relevant, because you aren’t handling openers directly and, thanks to the magnetized heads of nearly all electric openers, you don’t need to fish any lids out of cans.
While some may still prefer safety openers for producing even, clean lids free of jagged edges, we found that electric safety openers may actually be less safe than their traditional counterparts. Because of the way they operate, safety openers have trouble detecting one full rotation and stopping on their own, which means they’ll often continue going around the can until you remove it. This could produce small metal slivers that can fall into cans, a hazard that was reported in multiple Amazon reviews of the Hamilton Beach Smooth Touch Can Opener.
If your pet tries to get into your trash and lick cans clean, your child often helps you make dinner, or you just have health concerns about any potential nicks, we recommend choosing a manual safety can opener over an electric one to avoid these issues.