Take the 2-minute tour ×
Seasoned Advice is a question and answer site for professional and amateur chefs. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I bought a hand crank can opener (Oxo) because of the good online feedback and only use the "shake" dry approach. It quickly developed rust in between the metal. If I invest the time and scrub, I can remove most of the rust.

When I initially posed the maintenance question in IRC concerning rust and utensils and kitchenware in general, I got suggestions from "spend a little on a decent one" to "you want stainless steel". I stored both answers as helpful for future purchases.

Just recently I noticed two can openers in the office pantry that both show rust. Obviously these were neglected and showed more corrosion. After seeing this, I am curious if rust is actually normal and harmless. Are there more expensive stainless steel can openers that are rust resistant? Should I be drying more rigorously? I just thought of another possibility: should I keep the can opener in a jar of cooking oil?

share|improve this question
add comment

7 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

First, I would suggest you buy a higher quality can opener. I have a Swing-A-Way that I inherited from my grandmother. I think it's older than me.

Second, don't submerge the can opener in water every time you use it. I only full out wash it on the rare occasion I splash or drop something all over it. The rest of the time I just use my dishcloth to wipe the blade and handles clean and let it dry in the dish rack before putting it away.

share|improve this answer
    
very agreed; don't see the need to wash it all that often. –  zanlok Dec 17 '10 at 22:02
    
This could be my specific problem. I automatically rinse the opener without thinking about the impact. –  corin Jan 5 '11 at 18:13
add comment

I have a lot of canned food and have gone through my share of can openers. I'm generally OK with a rusty can opener, but I don't like the rust flakes getting into my food. I can't bear that metallic taste.

While I don't mind buying a new can opener (they sell them at the dollar general for two dollars), but I find it a bit wasteful.

This may sound a bit un-orthodox, but I use rubbing alcohol (90% or higher). I have a jar filled with it next to the sink, so I will rinse the can opener off, dip it in the jar of alcohol, and put it back in the drawer. It dries fine in there.

This also works for other rust-prone utensils like whisks.

share|improve this answer
add comment

I don't have an answer to your "choice of material" question, though I would tend to believe stainless steel is your best bet.

However, for preventing rust: Try cranking a paper towel through the spokes after you use and/or wash it, if that's where the rust is accumulating. It cleans and dries them very well, and I don't know if it's what's preventing rust on ours, but I do that every time and haven't noticed rust yet.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Rust (iron oxide) requires exactly three things to form: Iron, oxygen, and water. The first two are already in abundance, so in order to prevent rust, you need to minimize the third. Keep the can opener as dry as possible. Use a cloth or paper towel.

Stainless steel is corrosion "resistant"; it does not corrode or rust as easily as untreated iron or steel, but it can still corrode over time and will certainly tarnish. Again, the way to prevent this is to keep it dry.

I would not keep the can opener in a jar of cooking oil, because cooking oil can go rancid. Culinary-grade mineral oil would be okay, but it seems like a waste of oil to me; as long as you keep it dry, it won't rust.

Having said that, my can opener is pretty rusty and it doesn't bother me. Rust is definitely normal, and as long as the rust doesn't get into your food (which has never happened to me) then it is also completely harmless. It might not open cans as well if the blade itself is rusted, and that could potentially leave sharp edges on the opened can or lid, but that's highly individual and I'm sure you should be able to spot if and when that's happening. Personally, I don't bother to thoroughly dry can openers, because they're cheap enough that I can just buy a new one if they rust really badly.

But in general, yes, the two things you can do to minimize rusting on a can opener (or any other metal equipment) is to (a) use stainless steel and (b) keep it dry.

share|improve this answer
    
rust does cause the more friction in the "action", though. eventually my wife will complain, so we get a new one every 5 years or so. –  zanlok Dec 17 '10 at 22:03
add comment

It's not just water that makes rust. mild acids speed up the process. Many canned goods are acidic, so to remove all traces of these rinse the metal part under running clean water, and shake dry

Then leave the opener in "open" position in a warm dry place to dry (on your bench by a window is ideal)

Do not put them away in the drawer while still damp

The "Brabantia" opener (white plastic handles) is a good mix of steel quality, long life design (no small springs to rust out), actual opening performance, and price

share|improve this answer
add comment

You could try drying it with something like a hair dryer or compressed air if there's water in hard-to-reach places.

share|improve this answer
add comment

I would throw it in the dishwasher, most are dishwasher safe, and the drying cycle might dry the opener better than just a towel. but that's me, i'm pretty lazy and don't like washing things by hand.

share|improve this answer
    
the extra-hotness of water in the dishwasher will promote rust. gears and blade are not stainless, and will eventually rust. wash by hand and dry thoroughly. –  zanlok Dec 17 '10 at 22:01
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.