I have a bottle of oil I want to open. It is a glass bottle with a threaded metal cap. It is the type of cap which is connected in a few places to a lower ring. Usually, one just unscrews the cap, and it tears off the ring, which stays below the threads.

I now have a bottle whose cap+ring system is too loose. When I turn the cap, the whole thing, cap+ring, rotates freely without unscrewing or exerting a tearing force on the connection places.

What I tried, unsuccessfully:

  • turn it vigorously
  • grip it with a towel while turning
  • exert an upward pull while turning it
  • holding the lower ring with the fingers of one hand while gripping the cap with the fingers of the other hand through a towel, and exerting force in opposite directions
  • trying to cut the connection places with a knife tip (doesn't get cut, but it feels like the knife might slip and hurt me any time).

Note that this is a different problem than the much more common one of both not turning and my fingers slipping on the cap instead. I can grip the cap perfectly well, and it rotates very easily, it just doesn't unscrew or separate from the ring.

image of the problematic cap

  • I hate these. Every now and then I come across one that just doesn't open, like yours. – Luciano Jan 27 at 10:19
  • Hi @rumtscho, after understanding the situation better, I provided an answer to the question - which is basically "push" rather than "pull". However, a mod deleted my answer for not being an answer. You might like to check if my suggestion works on your bottle, or on a similar item. – Lawrence Jan 30 at 18:11

Can you grip the lower ring (the one that is supposed to break free) with a pliers or nut cracker? ...squeeze and twist the top.

  • I was afraid it might come to pliers. Not even your solution was enough - I needed a pair of long-nosed pliers to grip the ring and a pipe wrench to get a good grip on the cap, then twist in opposite directions. – rumtscho Jan 25 at 20:03

I've had this before, and solved it by breaking the join between cap and ring with a small screwdriver, one section at a time. Long nose pliers may be handy towards the end. You might manage to get the tip of a butter knife in the join instead of the screwdriver.

Trying too hard when it's not coming off tends to deform the threads in the cap, so it may not go back on securely later - you might need to decant the contents.

  • I’ve done the same, on a bottle of oil, and I’d agree with decanting. If the cap is just spinning, that means it’s no longer working, so you now have something that’s either at risk of spoiling faster or spilling accidentally – Joe Jan 27 at 14:27
  • 1
    I was going to suggest this - another option is to use some fine tin-snips to snip the connections, should only need a 2-5 snipped to allow the thread to engage and allow the lid to lift and tear off the others. – bob1 Jan 27 at 20:02

I've had some luck with a serrated knife. You have to hold the cap so it doesn't spin and cut very very carefully. Or you can just punch a hole in the top of the cap and decant into another bottle.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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