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How to Loosen a Jar Lid

Food is stored in jars by putting the hot food in a hot jar. Then when the jar and its contents cool down, the contents shrink, leaving a vacuum at the top of the jar. With the contents having been heated, killing all microorganisms, and no air being in the jar, the food can last unspoiled for a very long time. But the vacuum inside the jar makes it very difficult to remove the lid.

The best way to loosen the lid of a vacuum sealed jar is to run hot water over the jar and lid. The hot water causes the contents of the jar to expand, reducing the vacuum pressure. Since metal conducts heat better than glass, the hot water will also cause the lid to expand more than the jar, causing it to loosen up.

But if you don't have hot water handy, you can loosen the lid by tapping around its circumference with a metal object like a butter knife. This will deform the lid and weaken the seal so that it may be removed more easily. Don't tap the lid too hard or the class jar will break, making its contents too dangerous to consume.

Another method is to use a piece of rubber sheet material to increase the friction between your hand and the metal lid. Although rubber is the best non-slip material, you may find that just opening the lid while wearing cloth gloves, like a pot holder, will do the job.

Of course, if it's a real stubborn lid, you may have to use several of these methods simultaneously. You may have to run hot water over the jar, then tap around the lid, then try to remove it while wearing gloves.

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