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A bottle opener removing a bottle top.

A bottle-opener is a cleverly designed tool which can be used to open up a sealed bottle. According to this general definition, a cork-screw would also be a kind of bottle-opener. The most common usage of the concept of a bottle-opener, however, is directly linked to the opening of crown-capped bottles. Crown-caps were invented by an American man named William Painter in 1892. For that reason, it is assumed that bottle-openers are at least as old.

The most common reason why people want to open bottles is to gain access to liquids kept inside them. The fact that an extra device is necessary to open the bottle may, in some cases, be considered as dumb, since the bottle-opener has an ability to be missing when it's needed the most, much like remote controls, matches, knives, keys and important documents. Because of this, the crown-cap technology is continuously being replaced by the modern screw-cap technique. Interestingly, as happened with cork sealed wine-bottles, the crown-cap technology will most probably survive in the beer-bottle sealing niche. For this reason, bottle-openers are not facing extinction.

How to Use a Bottle-Opener

First, check if the bottle is sealed by a crown-cap. Some bottles are sealed by screw-caps that have a stupefying resemblance to crown-caps. If this is the case, then proceed to open the vessel according to the methods of opening bottles and jars.

The designs of a bottle-opener head can be found in a bewildering array of variations. The common trait of all bottle-opener heads is that they have a protuberance on one end designed to grip the crown-cap from the bottom edge, and another surface that uses the top of the crown-cap as a pivotal point. All bottle openers have a lever. Some are on the same side as the gripping protuberance; some are opposite. For this reason, some bottle openers work by lifting the lever when the pivotal point lies behind the gripping protuberance and the lever, and forcing the gripping protuberance to deform the crown-cap, loosening it from the bottle. This is the most common form of bottle-openers. Other bottle-openers work the other way around: the lever is pressed down to lift the protuberance.

How to Make Your Own Bottle-Opener

An astonishingly easy way to construct a working bottle-opener is as follows: a wooden bar of about 10cm length and 1cm thickness will act as a lever. On one end of the rod, a pan head screw is screwed into the wood, so that the head protrudes some 5 to 10 millimetres off the wooden bar. The head of the screw will act as the gripping protuberance and the wooden bar itself as the pivotal point and lever.

Alternative Bottle-openers

The aforementioned property bottle-openers share with remote controls and important documents, namely the vanishing in the most inappropriate moments, has boosted the imagination of many clever people to brew up ways to open bottles with objects that were originally designed for other purposes. In theory, anything more consistent than a pencil eraser and with a slight resemblance to a lever can be used to open crown-capped bottles. Suggestions from various experienced Researchers are listed below, :

  • Assorted edges, like table edges and toolbox edges - keep in mind that the table might not look exactly the same after using it to open a bottle

  • Dull sides of knives

  • Teeth (strongly inappropriate unless out of utmost despair as this can result in a trip to the dentist)

  • Pliers, wrenches, screwdrivers and other tools

  • Even bottles can be used to open bottles

Bottle-opener Nicknames

Since the bottle-opener has always been one of the most popular instruments for all social classes and age groups, there are many nicknames for this tool:

  • English (US) - Church-keys. The origin is the simple 'ring with a handle' shape design, which had the advantage of being able to incorporate a punching device at the end of the handle when tin cans became widespread. The shape and nature of this design, the fact that a 'key' opens things, and perhaps even the sly dig at tee-totalling Christian moralisers of the early 20th Century all seem to have a place in the adoption of this charming nickname.

  • German

    • Siebzehner - From 17mm wrenches that fit exactly to remove crown-caps from bottles. Siebzehn is the German word for '17'.

    • Hebamme - Literally means 'midwife'.

  • Danish

    • Øljern - Øl means 'beer' and jern means 'iron' or 'tool'.

    • Samfundshjælper - Literally means 'helper of society

  • Norwegian - Oppdrager - A person raising a child (literally 'up' and 'pull').

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