Most of us take this useful invention for granted now, but it would have been helpful if the tin-opener had been invented at the same time as the tin.
Canned food was invented by Peter Durand in 1810, and the first tinned food was produced in 1812. Unfortunately, no one had come up with a device for opening the tins.
It was just as well that the first tins of food were used by the military, at least they had weapons handy for opening them. Instructions on the tins helpfully suggested using a hammer and chisel.
Tinned food went on sale to the public around 1830. For the next 25 years, people struggled with saws, chisels and other tools. Then, in 1855, Robert Yeates invented a sort of penknife including a special blade that could be used to open tins.
Three years later, Ezra Warner of Connecticut, USA, patented a tin-opener shaped like a bent bayonet, but it was too dangerous for domestic use!
In 1870 William Lyman invented a tin-opener with a cutting wheel. It was a bit tricky to use, though, you had to try and make a hole in the centre of the can with one blade, then adjust the device to make the wheel cut around the edge.
Improvements to Lyman’s design were made in the 1920s and resulted in the modern rotary tin-openers still in use today. Electric tin-openers became available in the 1960s. The latest in tin-opening technology are devices that open tins without leaving sharp edges.
The first food tins were very heavy – some weighed half a kilo when empty. Durand’s earliest cans were made of iron lined with tin and their sides were up to 5 mm thick. Tin-openers only came along when cans began to be made of thinner metal.
Recycling has become part of everyday life and hopefully, one day, everything will be recyclable! For the time being, most of us can recycle our tin cans, food waste, glass and plastic to help reduce emissions, save energy and cut production costs. Recycle your waste! Every little helps.
Recycling just ONE aluminium can saves enough energy to power a television for around three hours! It only takes TWO HOURS for the UK population to produce enough waste to entirely fill the Royal Albert Hall!
If we recycled at the aluminium cans of drink the people of the UK buy every year, we’d need 14 million FEWER dustbins collected!
On average, each person in the UK throws away the equivalent to their own body weight in rubbish every seven weeks.
Another thing you can do with empty cans is to make a tin-can telephone. All you need is two empty tin cans, a long piece of string, a parent with a hammer and a nail, and someone to talk too!
When the string is pulled tight between the cans and you caused by your speech cause the string to vibrate. Those begin to speak, the vibrations vibrations travel to your friend’s. Now, speak into your can and your friend should be holding the other can to their ear.
Recycling old aluminium is 95% MORE energy efficient than making brand-new aluminium. Did you know that the energy saved from recycling ONE glass bottle will power a 100-watt light bulb for an hour? BUT if you swap the 100-watt for a 60-watt bulb then that same bottle will power the 60-watt bulb for SIX hours instead!
Creating new glass contributes 20% more to air pollution and 50% more to water pollution than recycling old glass.