Ring removal
August 16, 2005 7:16 AM   Subscribe

Where and/or how would I remove a ring from my finger? At a hospital? With a pair of pliers?

I have a family ring that I have worn since my teens. Problem is, I can't get it off! For sentimental reasons I'd like to remove it with the least amount of damage, but I don't plan on wearing it any longer....
posted by MintSauce to Health & Fitness (26 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have you tried using some kind of lubricant to get it off? That's the first thing I'd try.
posted by selfnoise at 7:19 AM on August 16, 2005

A pair of pliers is likely to damage both the ring and the finger it's on, so I wouldn't suggest that.

What methods have you tried so far? I was once told by a person who owned a jewelry store that the best way by far to remove a stubborn ring was to get some Windex, spray a little bit around the ring (moving the ring around so the fluid gets under it), and then gently try to pull the ring off. I've used this method myself once or twice to great success.
posted by cerebus19 at 7:21 AM on August 16, 2005

A hospital might use one of these. (Better photo.)
posted by grabbingsand at 7:23 AM on August 16, 2005

Have you tried cooling your hand in a bowl of ice and then helping the ring off with some vegetable oil?
posted by Rothko at 7:24 AM on August 16, 2005

Tried soap?
posted by pollystark at 7:25 AM on August 16, 2005


I'm not kidding.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:28 AM on August 16, 2005

Slip end end of a string under the ring, then wrap it tightly around your finger, moving towards the end. You will push blood to the end of your finger and should be able to slide the ring off over the string.
posted by Coffeemate at 7:30 AM on August 16, 2005

Tried tightly wrapping something flat ahead of the ring on your finger, advancing the ring, repeat? I've never tried this, and it has a good chance of cutting off circulation (so be careful!), but if you're trying a bunch of different things I'd take a stab at this.
posted by onalark at 7:30 AM on August 16, 2005

Call around to jewelry stores. Many years ago my mom had to have a ring cut off her finger and she had it done by a jeweler.

If you want, the jeweler can repair and enlarge the ring for you so you can continue to wear it.

And if you haven't tried some heavy duty moisturizers or lubricants, give it a shot. I think the waxier the stuff is the better--think shea butter or Crisco. Also keep in mind that most people's hands swell when it's humid so you might have better luck removing the ring on a cooler day.
posted by Sully6 at 7:33 AM on August 16, 2005

grabbingsand's photos are the real deal tool I used to cut rings off with in ER. They will obviously cut through the ring at a millimetre or 2 wide and then those ends are teased apart so you can remove your finger. They don't wreck the ring but if you like it a lot you may want to try all these other suggested lubrication techniques first. But if your finger swells or you lose sensation etc then you will probably have little choice. Something like tin snips (not sure of local vernacular) could work but it's a bit dangerous and will likely do more damage to the ring.
posted by peacay at 7:39 AM on August 16, 2005


No, really, windex.

Along with soaking your hand. If nothing else, it'll dull the pain when all the skin gets scraped off your hand. ;)
posted by unixrat at 7:47 AM on August 16, 2005

Best answer: Yeah goto a jewellers they have a special tool to remove rings, some will offer a repair service or you can request to make the ring bigger but this depends on the style of the ring.
posted by spooksie at 7:53 AM on August 16, 2005

I second the Windex suggestion. All the jewelry stores I've been to have supplied me with it as soon as they noticed I was having trouble taking a ring off when I was shopping. It works.
posted by Maishe at 8:22 AM on August 16, 2005

I had this problem and no lubricant worked. I had to get my father to cut the ring with a fine tooth silversmith's hacksaw. We then took it to the jewellers and they resized and repaired it and it looks good as new. NB: My father used to be a silversmith so had the tools lying around and knew what he was doing, kinda.
posted by fire&wings at 8:23 AM on August 16, 2005

I second Coffeemate's and onalark's suggestion, but strongly advise you try it with dental floss (it's sort of slick, so it works especially well). Slide one end of the floss under the ring, toward your palm. Then continue to wrap your finger tightly in the floss, basically mummifying your finger, until you get to the end. Then pick up the end of the floss that's sticking through the ring, and start unwrapping your finger from that end, and your ring will move up your finger until it's off. My wedding ring got stuck on my finger after I chemically burned the skin underneath -- long story -- and no amount of butter, lotion, Astroglide, or any other slippery substance would work to get it off. The dental floss wasn't comfortable, but worked like a charm.

Epilogue: The damn ring was an "eternity band" with diamonds going all the way around, and we had to pay about $300 to have another diamond added and make the ring bigger to accommodate the scar. Moral of the story -- don't use harsh cleaning products with a ring on!
posted by justonegirl at 8:24 AM on August 16, 2005

Also, try getting it off in the afternoon or evening, when your hands will probably be less swollen than in the morning.
posted by keatsandyeats at 8:31 AM on August 16, 2005

In addition to all the other suggestions, don't drink anything all day and keep your arm elevated for half an hour or so before you attempt to remove it.
posted by randomstriker at 8:42 AM on August 16, 2005

This Tool is what ER and jewellers use to remove rings. It's a hand-powered saw with a guard for your finger. The cut ring can be repaired by most jewellers who offers ring re-sizing.

I post the link because you can buy one of these tools for $26 dollars, which is just cool. :-)
posted by Crosius at 9:05 AM on August 16, 2005

From the great "Tricks of the Trade site, , May 2 entry:

Operating Room Nurse
When prepping a patient for open heart surgery, it is important that you remove any rings from their fingers. Fingers will swell while a patient is on a heart-lung bypass machine, and a forgotten ring can cut off the circulation.

Some patients have had their wedding rings on for 30 or more years, and this, combined with swelling from heart failure, makes them very difficult to get off. To avoid cutting (and thus destroying) them, take a piece of suture or thick string, and starting from the top of the finger, wrap very tightly down to the ring, compressing the tissue. Pass the end of the suture under the ring, then pull up slowly, working the ring up over the suture. The suture will push enough fluid out of the finger that you can usually remove it intact.
posted by KRS at 9:40 AM on August 16, 2005

Tricks of the Trade link:

posted by KRS at 9:40 AM on August 16, 2005

Don't go to a doc if you like your ring. They're in the business of minimizing damage to the digit, not the jewelry. Agree with the above that jeweler can do this for you, will be careful to cut the ring without damaging it, and can then repair the ring, if you like. This happens all the time.
posted by desuetude at 9:42 AM on August 16, 2005

If you're brave and cheap, put the ring (and your finger) in a vise, and use a braced Dremel tool with a cutoff wheel. I'd trust my dad or my mechanic to do this, but I wouldn't trust many others.
posted by Kwantsar at 9:42 AM on August 16, 2005

Would Preparation H reduce the swelling?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:35 AM on August 16, 2005

My mother sells jewelry and she also uses windex. She says it causes the blood vessels to constrict, thus shrinking the finger. The trick, though, according to her, is that you have to spray the finger and then quickly, immediately pull the ring off, as the constriction only lasts a few seconds.

I haven't seen this technique in operation but, hey, my mom told me this. So it has to be true.
posted by Clay201 at 1:19 PM on August 16, 2005

I really want followup on this question, for some reason. Keep us informed, MintSauce.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:09 PM on August 16, 2005 [1 favorite]

My (plain white gold) wedding ring got too tight to slide off, and eventually I couldn't stand it any more. We tried the dental floss thing, but it just made my finger swell up, and I felt like I was starting to panic. We tried all kinds of oil and soap (and silicone lubricant). In the end we slid a spoon handle under it to protect my finger and cut it off with a Dremel - quick and painless.
posted by crabintheocean at 9:09 PM on August 16, 2005

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