This story is part of Try This, CNET’s collection of simple tips to improve your life, fast.
When you’re in a hurry and stop to grab a six-pack of beer, you don’t always check to see if you picked up twist-off or pop-off tops. If you accidentally grab the latter and have no bottle opener nearby, no worries — just look around for something to pry off the cap. We’ve got several creative and slightly unusual methods you can try to open your drink, and you probably have at least one of the items you need handy.
So instead of smashing off the top with a rock and hoping for the best, use force and leverage to your advantage and try one of these safer methods to get that stubborn cap off when you don’t have a dedicated bottle opener on hand. For more tips around the home, here’s how to clean your oven without harsh chemicals and how to safely pit an avocado without stabbing yourself.
Smartphone and tablet chargers can pop open a bottle
Smartphone and tablet chargers have been used to open bottles. Position one of the two prongs from the wall plug end under the cap and pry upward. This method will take more work than others, but who doesn’t have a charger on them?
Since this could damage the charger, we don’t recommend using your favorite one.
MacBook or iPad chargers can open up a bottle
A MacBook or iPad charger can also be used very much like an actual bottle opener. The circular crown that holds the two-prong adapter or extension cord in place is shaped in such a way that it can be used to remove a cap. Just be careful, as the plastic has been known to crack and it’s got to be cheaper to just buy a bottle opener than to replace a charger. It’s probably a better idea to explore other options before resorting to this one.
A countertop or table can be a large bottle opener
Use a countertop or table to pop the cap off, just not your gorgeous granite or marble countertop or lovely wood table or anything else you don’t want marred. Pick one with a sharp edge rather than a rounded edge, so you can position the lid just right. Place the lip of the cap on a sharp corner of the counter and hit down on the top of the lid while gently pulling the bottle down. It’s quick and easy and gets the job done without using any tools.
If you’re worried about scratching your countertop or table, try placing a thin kitchen towel between it and the bottle cap. Or find a surface you’d not worried about.
Anything metal can pop the top
Use anything metal that you have on hand. If you’re outside, pop the cap off with any metal railing or a metal bumper (if you have one) with an edge. If you’re inside, use a metal handle on your dresser or cabinets. You can pop the top off the same way as with a countertop — by placing the lip on the edge and smacking down on the lid while pulling the bottle down.
Sunglasses can pop open a bottle
You always have your sunglasses on you, right? Get a pair that also serves as a bottle opener. William Painter makes a great pair of bottle-opener sunglasses, or you can opt for a cheaper version to pop the lid with.
Sandals in a pinch
This one needs some forward thinking: There are some cool sandals out there that have a built-in bottle opener. Reef makes sandals that come equipped with a bottle opener on the underside of the shoe. All you have to do is whip off the flip-flop, pop the bottle’s cap off and put your shoe back on. Just make sure to clean the bottle opener every once in a while, as it can get clogged with sand or dirt.
A house key can pry off a cap
A house key will certainly work. It’s typically thin enough to place under the lip of a bottle’s cap, but it works best if you leave it on your key chain, as the other items attached to your keys will give you more to grip. Grip the neck of the bottle and position the ridged side of the key sideways under the cap. Move the key back and forth until you pry the cap off. You will have to work at it for a minute. In case something goes wrong, don’t use a key you can’t replace.
Scissors can force off the cap
Scissors, made of steel with handles, can provide grip and leverage. But they’re also sharpened, so be careful not to cut or slice your finger as you pry the cap off the bottle. There are two ways to do this — with the scissors opened and with the scissors closed. The closed and safer option is to place the scissors under the cap and pry upward. The opened option (which is unsafe and we don’t recommend) is to place the scissors around the bottom of the cap and wiggle up until the top comes off.
A lighter can do the trick
Have a lighter? By gripping the bottleneck with your nondominant hand and positioning the bottom of the lighter over your index finger knuckle and under the rim of the cap, you can use the leverage to remove the bottle cap. With some practice, you can send the cap flying using nothing but a lighter.
A fork can pry off a cap
A fork also works pretty well. It’s usually easier to wedge the tines inside the grooves of the cap, and you can pry the cap loose with less force by using an individual tine of the fork. Don’t use your best silverware.
A spoon can flip the lid
If you’re at someone’s house and they can’t find a bottle opener, chances are there’s at least one spoon around that you can use to your thirsty advantage. It may take some practice to get the grip just right. Try grabbing the neck of the bottle as close to the cap as you can get with your nondominant hand. Position the spoon under the lip of the cap and, using the base of your thumb as a base, pry the cap loose. Again, don’t use your best silverware.
A butter knife can be a stand-in bottle opener
The very tip of a butter knife can be used to bend just a small section of the cap away from the bottle. Then position the tip of the knife under the lip, so that it’s between the cap and the glass rim. In a careful and swift motion, tap the handle of the knife on the counter to pop off the cap. And again, don’t use your best silverware.
A flathead, or slotted, screwdriver can open a bottle
A flathead screwdriver works just as well with the same general instructions: Position the screwdriver head underneath the lip of the cap and use the leverage to carefully pry it loose, working around the cap. You can also tap the handle of the screwdriver on a countertop to pop the lid off.
Claw hammer is another word for bottle opener
A claw hammer can also be used. Flip the hammer upside-down and position the claw end (now pointing upward) under the lip. Now carefully peel away the cap with the edge of the claw.
A ring can open a bottle
This one’s a little iffy because a lot could go wrong to damage you or your ring, but if you’re confident, it’s an option that’s been said to work. While wearing a ring with a wide band, place the edge under the bottle cap. Get a good grip on the cap with your hand and tilt the bottle in the opposite direction until the lid pops off. Again, please, please be careful and don’t use a ring you care about.
For more tips, here’s how to start fires with snacks and how to wash a car without water.