Introduction: Open a Vacuum Sealed Container

Picture of Open a Vacuum Sealed Container

Two easy ways to open a vacuum sealed container.

I'd like to say I've never done it, microwaved a container with the lid on, but I have. As you might expect, I ended up with a lid that had been vacuum sealed to the container and felt impossible to remove. Hungry and at a loss for what to do next, I got to thinking. Vacuum seals are created between your tupperware and its lid when they are heated together and then cooled. As you heat your tupperware, the contents inside expand as they warm up. To release the building pressure from the contents expanding, some air is released, escaping between the lid and the container itself. Then, when your container and its contents begin to cool, it tries to equalize the pressure again. Your tupperware is rigid though, and cannot flex with the pressure necessarily, so the lid dents inward instead to account for that pressure change. release the lid, we'll have to increase temperature of the contents inside the tupperware so that they expand again, exerting a pressure force on the lid allowing it to release. Follow along for two methods of removing the vacuum sealed lid from your tupperware.

Step 1: Method 1: Heat Source

Picture of Method 1: Heat Source

For method 1, we will be reheating the contents of the container to get them to expand again. To do this, find a pot with a diameter larger than your tupperware lid. Fill this pot with water and place on the stove to boil. Once boiled, allow your water to cool just enough so it is not actively boiling or steaming* anymore.

*NOTE: It is important to wait until the water is no longer steaming so that you do NOT get a steam burn while holding your tupperware over the water. You can also put an oven mitt over your hand if you are still worried about hot air rising from the water.

Step 2: Heat It Up

Picture of Heat It Up

Invert your container, don't worry about the lid--remember it's sealed on! Dip your container far enough into the hot water so that just the lid is submerged. You'll feel the pressure release when the seal is broken. It took me about two minutes of soaking the lid in the hot water.

If your container is heavy, feel free to take breaks or switch hands. The contents just have to heat up, it doesn't have to be a consecutive two minutes. It will just be faster if it is.

And again, if you are worried about burning your hands from the steam coming off the water, I would recommend wearing an oven mitt.

Step 3: Open Sesame!

Picture of Open Sesame!

Place your heated container on a dish towel. This towel will contain the contents of your container if they splatter on the immediate opening.

Using your fingers, or a dish towel, pry the lid off of the container. It should be relatively easy if the seal has released. If it is not easy go back to the last step and begin heating the lid in the water bath again.

Step 4: Method 2: Patience

Picture of Method 2: Patience

This method is an alternative to the first if you do not mind losing the contents of your container to spoiling.

Leave your container out at room temperature for a week to two weeks. As your container sits out on your counter, the food inside will begin to spoil and the air inside the container will begin to expand. After 1-2 weeks, the air will have expanded enough with the growth of bacteria on your food that the seal will break. Test every couple of days after one week until your lid comes off easily.

It is NOT recommended to eat this food as it has most likely spoiled. This method is simply to separate the lid and container base so that you can use them again.


askTy (author)2017-05-17

Just warmed up my food in the microwave at work and was unable to open the lid. I decided to Google methods on how to open a vacuum sealed container and came across this website. I have the same container shown on this website. After reading the helpful comments, I decided to use a plastic knife to lift the lid so air can get into the container and IT WORKED! Definitely learned my lesson next time I will lift the lid prior to microwaving my food.

SwatiG21 (author)askTy2017-06-08

this worked just fine. quick and easy. thanks for the suggestion!

miiyuu (author)2016-11-02

YUP. just stuck the back of my fork in between the lid and container.. popped out in less then ten seconds.. i'm at work and neither of those steps outlined were feasible.

pschannnnn (author)2016-09-04

I microwaved a closed container fresh from the fridge for 1 minute. Maybe the pressure is too strong the above method does not work for me. I tried it for multiple times consuming 1 whole hour. At last I used a thin and bendable knife slipped it under the seal and opened it effortlessly. The most important thing is to bend the rubber to let the air in. Hope my experience helps!

NathanDavidson (author)2016-04-23

I faced a similar situation just last weekend and I simply popped a couple of small holes using a safety pin to release some of that air pressure. Problem solved and the lid of the storage container barely got disfigured! Nevertheless, you handled the problem very intellectually which would actually be a great science lesson for the children to experiment out at home.

perlyking (author)2015-11-20

I had the same problem the other day. Putting the container in the microwave for about 20 seconds (just as Tazem has suggested) sorted the problem very simply.

tazem (author)2015-11-08

Why not just pop the container back in the microwave for a few seconds.

kelleymarie (author)tazem2015-11-08

I didn't try that tazem! Let me know if that works if you do try it.

Kinnishian (author)kelleymarie2015-11-09

It does method :)

BetsyFartBlossom (author)2015-11-08

Why not just punch a small hole or two in the lid? That will release the pressure and if you are silly enough to do this again, the pressure just won't build up. But, you do have a unique way of handling this problem, kudos!:)

Hi BetsyFartBlossom! While punching a small hole or two in the lid would release the pressure and would work to solve the problem, I didn't want to ruin the lid! :)

tazem (author)2015-11-08

Why not just pop the container back in the microwave for a few seconds.

MonkiMan (author)2015-11-08

Or just stick a knife into the gap between the lid and the container, problem solved with minimal effort =)

marvelljones (author)MonkiMan2015-11-08

Yes, you are correct. However I have had soup squirt out and burn my hand due the sudden rush of air into the container. These methods are safer.

MonkiMan (author)marvelljones2015-11-08

OK, i have never had that problem cause surely the air is being sucked in but you do you.

cyprinuscarpio (author)2015-11-08

Caution: I recommend using waterproof silicon oven mitts (or perhaps tongs) for working with hot liquids. Regular cloth oven mitts (or potholders) are not very good at protecting against scalds/steam burns - if the hot liquid/steam soaks through, they even make things worse by prolonging contact with the skin.

MlH1 (author)2015-11-08

A small observation... If you do not use containers with four lock down tabs spaced evenly apart around the container it may not have vaccumed itself togather so efficiently.

mooster (author)2015-11-08

Why not just set the container in the hot water for however long it takes?

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