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7 ways to remove a stubborn jar lid

Don't go to great lengths to open a jar lid. Everything you need to open it is already in your kitchen.

Taylor Martin/CNET

At one point or another, everyone faces a jar lid that simply won't budge. Whether you have a hankering for salsa, jelly or pickles, these tricks can help you pop the top on any jar lid that puts up a fight.

Give it a whack

Sometimes jar lids get stuck due to an extra strong seal from the factory. To break that seal and make removing the lid easier, you can turn the jar upside down and whack the bottom of it with the palm of your hand. If there is enough room for the contents of the jar to shift, this will send it all to the lid and might break the seal.

Warm water

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Taylor Martin/CNET

If you're having trouble removing a stuck lid, you may only need some warm water to remove it.

Try placing the jar lid under the faucet in your kitchen sink and turning on the hot water. Keep it there while the water warms up and continue holding it for at least 30 seconds after the water has turned hot. Alternatively, you could fill a bowl with hot water and place the jar upside down in the water, leaving it there for around 30 seconds.

The hot water will help expand the metal lid (more so than the glass), making it easier to remove.

Hair dryer

Another option for heating the lid is using a hair dryer. Set the hair dryer to high heat and blow the hot air over the lid for 30 seconds to a minute. This will also warm up the lid and will help it release much easier.

Tap above the threads

If you're dealing with a more sticky food, such as jam or preserves, the food can stick to the threads and cause them to lock up over time. Giving the lid a few taps around the rim (directly over the threads) with a wooden spoon or the pommel of a kitchen knife can help break the threads loose.

A spoon or butter knife

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Taylor Martin/CNET

Rather than tapping on the top of the lid to break loose the threads, you can also try using a thin, narrow object, like a spoon or butter knife, to slide under the lid and gently pry the lid out enough to break the seal. This method should be used as a last resort, as using something to pry against the glass could cause it to break, potentially ruining anything inside the jar.

A can- or bottle-opener work well as pry tools for this method, as well.

Silicon trivet

Jars often have slick metal lids. Sometimes, all you really need is something that will give you a better grip. For this, look for something nearby that is rubber or silicone.

You can try draping a textured hand towel or a silicone trivet over the lid for better friction. You can also use a rubber cleaning glove or even try stretching a rubber band around the outside of the lid. All of these will give you a better grip on the lid, making it easier to twist off.

Duct tape

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Taylor Martin/CNET

Finally, you can give yourself more leverage by creating a makeshift handle out of duct tape. It won't be pretty, but it will make the lid easier to remove.

Start by tearing off a piece of duct tape approximately 8 inches long (20 centimeters). I ended up needing to double-layer the duct tape -- a single layer couldn't handle the stress of pulling. Apply a couple inches of the tape to the circumference of the lid and press it firmly into place, folding the tape onto the top of the lid. Fold the excess tape in half to create a handle. Rotate the jar so that the handle makes a 90 degree angle with the tape attached to the lid. Then, hold the jar steady with your non-dominant hand and, with your dominant hand, pull the makeshift handle towards you.

This should create a twisting motion and the lid should pop off. Just be careful, as the lid will sometimes come off rather violently, which can cause a big mess.