Scientist and author, Beth is also a keen home cook. She enjoys trying new recipes.
6 Kitchen Gadgets for Unscrewing Lids
There is a bewildering number of these gadgets available, so I have reviewed six different types. I recommend three of the best, and steer you away from three of the worst. I’ve listed the pros and cons of each. These devices are all intended to help those with arthritic hands, or anyone who has difficulty in opening glass screw jars.
- Static lid opener for any size jar
- Fixed under counter opener
- Electric automatic jar opener
- Jar opener for weak hands with clamp
- Rubber jar gripper
- Multi-function can, bottle, and jar opener
1. Static Lid Opener for Any Size Jar
I bought this opener when I set up home for the first time. The OXO Good Grips jar opener is a flat triangular wedge-shaped spatula. It has tiny metal serrated teeth on the two longest sides of the triangle, which grip the jar lid as you turn it. You can open any size jar with it. It’s wedge-shape means that small lids fit at the acute-angled end, and larger lids fit progressively towards the wider angled end.
- It is flat, and easy to store in the cutlery drawer
- It is a low-cost device
- It has no moving parts, so nothing much can go wrong
- Value-for-money budget choice
- It helps if you place the jar on a wet cloth to prevent it from sliding as you unscrew the lid. A base pad for this purpose is included with some models.
- Although it reduces the muscle force needed, it still requires some wrist action
2. Fixed Under-Cabinet Opener
The Grip Jar Opener is a fixed under-cabinet or under-counter lid opener. It’s similar to the static type described above except that it’s screwed down. This gives extra leverage when using it, and so requires less physical effort. You fix it to the underside of a kitchen wall cabinet, or underneath your counter worktop.
The grip mechanism is the same type as the hand-held device above; a stainless steel strip of tiny teeth. However, because the device is fixed, you have both hands free to steady the jar. Containers the size of small nail polish bottles to large pickle storage jars can be unscrewed easily with this gadget.
- Easily accessible
- Easy to use, needs less effort than the hand-held static device
- Awkward to clean
- A heavy jar may be dropped accidentally if the lid unscrews too quickly
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3. Electric Automatic Jar Opener
Jars are vacuum-sealed to preserve freshness. Breaking that seal is a challenge if you have arthritis or a weak hand grip. The Besmon Electric Jar Opener is a great solution to this problem. It‘s like having your very own robot helper.
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The device is battery-powered and requires no physical strength or dexterity to operate. You simply place it on the top of the jar or bottle and leave the sensors to do their stuff. The gadget automatically sizes the lid and grips it tightly. It then turns it to open, as shown in the video above. Et voila!
- Easy to use
- Needs no grip strength to operate the device
- Great for anyone with arthritic hands
- Needs two AA batteries
- Batteries need replacing regularly
- Higher price than other types
4. Jar Opener for Weak Hands With Clamp
This opener gadget uses a simple gearing mechanism to hold the lid in a pincer grip. To operate, you first turn the handle clockwise to make the pincers fit the lid. Next you turn the handle anti-clockwise so that the internal teeth make contact with the lid, and you then hold the lid tightly. Finally, holding the jar in one hand, continue turning the handle anti-clockwise to unscrew the lid.
- Some people love this device (but not me)
- The instructions are not easy to follow
- The clamp often slips off the lid, making it frustrating to use
- Unless the jar is stood on a wet cloth, it slides on the counter as you try to open it
5. Rubber Jar Gripper
This is the cheapest commercial option for opening awkward screw lids. It’s a circle of rubber that is slightly larger in size than a typical jar lid. By placing it over the top of the jar, your hand is prevented from slipping as you twist the lid. It gives added traction, but you still need considerable effort to get it to work.
In my opinion it’s not worth buying a rubber jar gripper, as it’s easy to make a DIY version at home. A damp tea towel or dishcloth is just as effective, and these can of course, also be used for wiping the dishes.
- Cheap to buy
- Easy to use
- Still needs some wrist strength
- No better than using a damp cloth
6. Multi-Function Can, Bottle, and Jar Opener
This gadget tries to be a kitchen jack-of-all-trades, but it is actually a master of none. It is a U-shaped gripper with several curved indents which are designed to fit different screw lid sizes. It claims to be easy to use for the elderly, and arthritis sufferers. I disagree, I found it awkward and difficult to get a good grip when I tried it. However, if you need a bottle opener, as well as a screw lid opener, and have good hand strength, then you may find this implement a good budget buy.
- Multi-function: opens jars, bottles, and cans
- Small to store
- Easy to clean
- Difficult to use if you have a weak grip