Rediscover the Glass Mason Jar

If you haven’t already, you must rediscover the power and versatility of the glass mason jar.

Matt and I had toppling shelves full of mason jars when we began learning about canning and pickling. For most of the year they sat empty, collecting spiders and other creepy, dusty basement goodies.

Recently though, as we have moved away from plastics in our home, we have rediscovered the many uses of these glass jars.

Since glass is inert, it makes a great alternative to plastic, which may contain harmful chemicals (like BPA) that will leach into foods, drinks, and personal products. As long as you are gentle with your jars, they can last and be reused for years! Mason jars don’t stain, melt, scratch, hold odors, or warp like plastics can.

So dust off your mason jars and put them to use all over your home.

Glass Mason Jars

Mason Jars: Not Just For Canning

In the kitchen – We purchase many of our baking supplies in bulk, and I transfer ingredients from their large sacks into mason jars that fit in my cupboards. Glass jars were an answer to a budget issue when we began getting rid of plastic food containers. Instead of purchasing all new glass storage containers, I went shopping in my own basement for some empty jars. (Check out pictures of my refrigerator to see the evidence!) We even freeze many things in our mason jars, although this can be dangerous (broken/cracked glass in your freezer!), and wasteful if not done correctly. (Liquids generally need at least an inch of headspace for expansion when freezing in glass.)

In the pantry – Amidst the jars of granola, dried beans, and nuts in our pantry, you’ll also find many dried herbs and spice mixtures in mason jars. Did you know that the green lids from old grated parmesan cheese containers screw on perfectly to small mouth jars, making sprinkling so easy?!

Glass Mason Jars

In the bathroom – Besides an attractive display for cotton swabs or cotton balls, mason jars make the perfect container for homemade beauty products. Our homemade concoctions typically contain essential oils, which can react with plastic. I have several pint-sized jars holding products like mouthwash, moisturizer, and eye makeup remover.

In the laundry area – Are you making your own laundry detergent? Large jars are perfect for storing homemade detergent, stain removers, or other household cleaning products. (Use the shaker top trick for your homemade scrubbing powders.)

In the office –  Organization is key in the office area. Mason jars allow you to see where your supplies are. Pens, pencils, paper clips, scissors, coins, and other things can be attractively organized.

In the craft area – Stash your buttons, sewing supplies, or string in glass jars. Store paint brushes upright, and stash beads or tiny scrapbooking supplies in small mason jars.

Glass Mason Jar

In the garage & workshop –  Glass jars are perfect for storing small items in the garage and workshop like screws, nails, bolts, etc. We even have a half gallon jar of homemade insecticidal solution in the shed.

For gift giving – Mason jars make gift giving so simple. I have given things like homemade sugar scrubs, bath bomb fizzies, chocolate syrup, granola, and many other things that look attractive in glass. It’s a frugal alternative to gift wrap, and most of the recipients return my jars or put them to use in their own home!

In the living room – My favorite vase for flowers is a mason jar. I’m afraid I don’t know the last time I used one of my fancy vases to arrange a bouquet. Beautiful flowers just look so much more organic sitting in a quart jar.

Glass Mason Jars

The list goes on…

My mother, a woman of great resourcefulness, always used mason jars for decorating. Her gorgeous blue Ball jars were full of things like my uncle’s antique marbles, or sand and seashells from family vacations.

With the advent of Pinterest, there is no shortage of ideas floating around for the ever-popular mason jar. Chandeliers, soap dispensers, and floating candle centerpieces are among the many ideas I’ve seen.

Need a new set of drinking glasses? Pull out your pint jars and toast to your new repurposed kitchen ware!

You can find a large variety of mason jars HERE.

What about you? We’d love to hear how you’ve been using these oh-so-functional jars! Chime in below and share your ideas!

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Comments

  1. Also, the regular (narrow) mason jars work as a blender container! At least on my old Kenmore, I can fit the bottom blade/fittings on a mason jar and pulverize herbs in it. Might work for making peanut butter IN the jar as well. Certainly it has made grinding cardamom a breeze, and that had been VERY hard to do with a mortar and pestle. That’s also how I grind my home-dried veggies into ‘instant veggie soup’ base.

    • What a wonderful idea! I’ve been coveting a magic bullet for months now and you just remedied that (somewhat). I was so excited that I dropped what I was doing and I tried it and burned the bread I had in the oven! Still a great idea!

      • I MUST try this. I have a MagicBullet. As far as other uses, I have used mason jars as drinking jars for quite a long time. My husband and I still do and my mother did as well when we were growing up.

  2. Excellent article, Betsy! I use some mason jars for storing my homemade granola etc, as a vase too and sometimes I use them for drinking glasses too!

  3. I too use mason jars for just about everything! My husband uses one every day to transport milk in his lunchbox. But my favorite thing is using a mason jar with my foodsaver vacuum packing gizmo! They make an attachment that fits over the top and then sucks out all of the air in the jar to create an air tight seal. I hardly ever use those plastic bags they sell. Oh and I store my extra lettuce this way and it stays fresh and crunchy for over a week……. almost two! My favorite use is with my dehydrated food, once the jar is sealed (with my food saver) most foods will keep for years! I use an old black or blue sock with the foot part cut off as a dark sleeve around the outside to keep out light when storing things long term.

    • Hey, I’m in the dark here, what is this vaccuum gizmo, I’ve not heard of this?

        • Thanks Michelle, I’ve heard of these for freezing food in baggies but didn’t realize they had a jar attachment…so awesome. Thanks for the links, I’m on the hunt now, lol!

          • I bought mine directly from Food Saver…. I saw some on Amazon but the prices were higher… Be sure to read the reviews on Amazon though… lots of helpful tips! =)

      • The sock trick makes me smile every time knowing that i don’t have to wear them to work any more! I purchase large quantities of yeast for making bread, vacuum seal the left over with the food saver, put a sock on it and store it in the freezer. The yeast will last for years and years if stored this way!

    • I was going to post just what you said about the foodsaver jar attachment. I keep my THRIVE freeze-dried foods in jars using the vacuum sealer. I live in a motor home, with lots of humidity, and this keeps the dry food dry.

  4. I love the Parmesan lid on the mason jar! I just tried it myself. That is something I would never have thought of. Thanks for all your useful tips! We use lots of Parmesan, and now I will save all the lids. :-)

    • I just love the parmesan lid idea too, but it reminded me of another lid switcheroo. I’ve used the top part of a salt container, you know with the little silver spout, cut it to size and used the card board circle with the spout on it instead of the lid, and use it in my craft room for things like rhinestones, glitter. and small little buttons etc. So when I come across a mason jar that has the ring but missing the seal, no worries, I just use this instead. I’ve got 3 of them, so I’m getting my dispenser lids from friends and family since we don’t go through salt all that fast.

  5. Fairly certain mason jars will somehow play prominently into the reception decorations for Ms. Laura and Mr. Victor! Mason jars ~ my great grandfather had the most wonderful garage…little wooden thing w/a tin roof. Only large enough for his car (which was not often exercised)…on each side bins for potatoes, onions, etc., that he had grown and above those shelves for tools and work stuff. UNDER each shelf was nailed the lids of mason jars to which the jars were screwed on and off…they contained nails, screws, bolts and other craftsman stuff…his garage was a marvel of efficiency, organization and economy…homegrown product of The Depression!

    • Oh, yes…there are so many ways to make lovely arrangements with mason jars–with flowers, candles, etc. Your great grandfather’s garage sounds charming!

    • My Dad used baby food jars in the same way (lids screwed to shelf or ceiling joist) to store smaller amounts of nails, washers, bolts, etc. So smart and efficient AND so easy to see contents of the jars!

  6. Hi Betsy, another great article. I’ve rediscovered the humble mason jar myself and well as any glass jars that are byproduct of whatever I purchased at the store. My first venture was in making a homemade soap dispenser for liquid dish soap, it was so easy I made one for the bathroom too. Didn’t even need a drill, after 5 minutes of time invested, they dried over night and were awesome. People ask me all the time now where I got it and I just tell them how I did it and they are off and running. The other thing I’ve used them for is my craft room If I keep things visible in a clear glass jar, I don’t go out and buy extras because I couldn’t find the original item. One of the pics you show is the string containers, I use them like that too! I’ve started using them for lettuce as well, and I can finally keep salad greens fresh and ready for use before they go south (under the kitchen sink in my homemade compost bin) . They are so versatile. I’ve found that they aren’t really a problem with kids in the fridge because they are hefty enough my daughter is able to keep a firm grip. Thanks for highlighting their utilitarian uses, and that doesn’t even include their crafty side. Many thanks for your wonderful site, I’m learning all the time! Gotta try that parmesan cheese topper.

      • There were so many tuts out there about using drills etc, it kinda intimidated me. But I put the cap/lid part on a solid board,this was important to keep from bending the lid, knocked a hole with nail and hammer, kept wiggling the nail in the hole to widen it as the top is really a soft metal (of coarse this will not work for old ceramic disc type ) A small screw driver could work just as well. Before making the hole much bigger than the nail hole, I checked the size needed for my existing plastc soap dispenser bottle, I only used the pump assembly. Then I got out my needle nose pliers and wiggled the opening big enough to fit the straw and spring part through and still leave the neck of the dispenser pump to sit on top of the metal lid. After that I used hot glue on the under side to make sure it didn’t move around and also to create a seal around the assembly. The second one I did I used e6000 both are holding up well, just wanted to see if there was any difference, none noted thus far. I let them both sit over night then put the lid on. My soap dispenser in the bathroom was a little blah, since it was clear hand soap, so I washed some smooth stones like you get from the craft store and put them in the dispenser, my bathroom is kinda rustic anyway, looks great. btw. I’m just now nearing the end of the liquid soap I already had on hand and am searching out some hand made recipes to replace the soaps. l am moving more and more into home made, but I don’t just throw away what I already have on hand, that just doesn’t make much sense to me.I probably made sound harder than it was, truely, it was a cinch and took no more than 5 min to make one.

        • Oh, one more thing. look at your pump assembly. It was obvious that my kitchen pump was going to have to hang over the edge a bit so my sponge could get up under it, while my bathroom one was sized just right to be smack in the middle of the lid. So many variations out there, happy creating!

          • are there any pictures posted anywhere of this? I’m visual and need to see it to believe I could make one.

    • So glad you got something out of this article Cassie! It sounds like you’re already doing so much with these humble little jars! :) Great point about repurposing ANY glass jars that enter your home…I can’t even send glass to the recycling bin anymore because I always find a way to use it in some other capacity.

      • Betsy, I’m right there with ya, I just can’t justify throwing any glass jars away, one way or another they get repurposed, either as a container or a craft item. Thanks for all your great articles, btw Matt’s homemade toothpaste was the bomb, even my 10yo loves it. I’m sure somewhere you’ve mentioned homemade hand soap and liquid dish soap (not for the dishwasher, don’t have one) if so, please point me in the right direction. thanks so much!

        • Those two recipes aren’t on the site anywhere. Liquid dish soap is in our book, and for liquid hand soap I just put the following into foaming pump bottles: 1 part liquid castile soap to 4 parts water.

  7. We use mason jars as lumineria: simply fill with lentils or sand and drop a tea light in. Great way to light a walkway on a warm summer or cold winter night. Wrap some light gauge wire around the candle and suspend from the old maple tree as another whimsical way to say ‘Welcome’.

  8. I use old wire hangers and wrap them around jars. The hook on the hanger allows me to hang them along my chain link fence. They look awesome with just a tea light and helped us see after the fireworks we were able to see from our backyard!

    • Thank you for the link Austin!!! Matt just ordered one to try out! He has been a long time believer that mason jars are the best drink container. :)

  9. Good Morning you lovely real people, Like the mason jar useage (I am a breast ca survivor) and my doctors,God knows I have many, tell me NEVER TO COOK WITH OR USE PLASTIC OF ANY KIND, you mentioned freezer storage with mason jars, I am getting ready to can some vegs tell me how to freeze (I have a big freezer in the garage) want to can meat also.Thanks Dee

    • Using pint jars with the straight sides (wide mouth) is best for freezing. The less liquid, the less they will expand, and less chance of breakage. Using small mouth jars with a “shoulder” will increase chances of breaking. Leave lots of head space (at least an inch), and foods should be chilled in the refrigerator for a day or two before putting in the freezer. They even sell freezer safe mason jars that are made from shatter-proof glass if you’re nervous about breakage. Hope this helps!

  10. Thanks for the idea of putting Parmesan lids on small-mouth jars–that’ll help!

    Also, don’t forget gallon-size pickle jars. I have at least fourteen of them and store all kinds of things in them. They’re lined up on my built-in china cabinet counter and look nice (as long as I keep them dusted, anyway).

    Canning season started for me yesterday with Bing cherris, so my jars are once again starting to fill up. Last year I started using reuseable lids made by Tattler. They use a BPA-free plastic lid with a rubber ring–just like Grandma used with her glass lids! You can find them at http://www.reuseablecanninglids.com. I’ve waited until now to start telling friends about them because I wanted to go through a season and use them again. Obviously the initial cost is more, but long-term it will be a substantial savings. Since I’ve put up over 500 jars a year in the past, I’m really looking forward to being able to pay for lids ONCE!

    Keep up the good work–I’m really enjoying your newlsetters and your site.

    • Wow, Tracy! You’re a canning machine! I bet we could learn oodles from you about canning. Also, great tip on the reusable lids. We’ll be looking into this!

      • A little off the jar subject, but ties in. I too use Tattler lids for canning now because they are BPA free (the metal lids have a BPA coating of plastic) AND they are reuseable. Ball has now come out with BPA free plastic screw on lids for BOTH regular size and wide mouth jars. You can’t use these for canning, but they eliminate having to handle multiple pieces for lids. Also some one mentioned the Food Saver vacuum machine. They have now started producing BPA free plastic bagging for their vacuum machine. Going green keeps growing.

  11. This may sound a little kooky, but we filled a blue Mason jar with broken glass from a shattered sliding glass door. The safety glass is broken in a really cool way that sparkles when light comes in the bathroom window.

  12. I think that is a wonderful idea. Look how many plastic containers that are tossed every day when we could save so much in our landfills if only the stores would allow us to bring in our little jars and they could put our bulk items right in there. I think the impact would be amazing. I make my own colloidal silver so there is always an abundance of mason jars on hand in my house but now this has given me so many ideas rather than using my lock and lock containers which end up becoming pitted after time. The metal lids seal down so nicely and I am sure would keep things just as fresh. Thank yo for bringing back and old idea to a new age..

    • We love to shop bulk at our local health food store for this reason! They will weigh our containers before we fill them, allowing us to forgo the wasteful plastic! Not sure if grocery chains will do this…never tried.

      • For the shopping part, I used a plastic reusable Planter’s Peanut container. The first few times I went to the register at a local WinCo Foods with their product in said plastic jar, they looked at it and me funny. “I know I’ll be paying for the container too, but I didn’t want to use the bags and either get too much to fit, or less than a full container’s worth.” They would shrug and ring it up in my container without further comment. To do what you’re suggesting with a glass container, you’ll need to keep an empty one with you at check out, so they can re-calibrate their scale for your purchase. Shouldn’t be an issue, as long as your cashier is willing to work with you on it.

  13. Thanks for the many good articles!! I have been using the old half-gallon Mason jars to hold all of my staples in the kitchen (it brings back fond memories of my paternal mom-mom’s kitchen)for several years now; I also use them in the bathroom. My half- gallon jars once belonged to my late neighbor who kindly gave us ALL of their canning jars-over 15 dozen in various sizes.

  14. I love these ideas. I have enjoyed your website so much since discovering it a few months ago. I will definitely dust off my mason jars and start using them! I have been using your homemade laundry detergent for months also. My husband loves the way it smells. Keep up the wonderful work!

  15. Thanks for another great article! I have a basement full of Mason jars (my mom can’t resist buying boxes of them at auctions), so I’ll have to start putting some more of them to use with your ideas.

    • Oooohhh…what I would do for a basement again! I was hoarding mason jars in my basement at our last house. My stock is kept to a reasonable minimum now…it’s no fun. Lol!

  16. The advent of plastic as a homemaking “convenience” that was also bright and fashionable is relatively recent (post WWII). Advertisers and manufacturers have worked hard to sell us on it! Both my mom and mother-in-law were into “green” living long before it was fashionable- maybe because they grew up during the Depression. Mom never threw out worn out clothing without removing buttons, zippers, buckles, etc. to be used in other sewing projects. My mother-in-law always put her leftovers, bulk foods, everything (!) in glass jars. So much easier to find the left-overs in the fridge! Using baby-food jars for work-shop odds & ends (nails, screws) was a kind-of staple in the garages and sheds of our family & friends. Everyone knew that you could nail the lid to the underside of a shelf and screw the jar to it; the contents were organized and visible. We bought raw milk from the farm down the road. Whenever we needed more we took our (scalded) glass gallon jugs to the milk house, filled them from the tank and put a dollar in the coffee can on the window sill. Although it took me a long time to break the habit of shaking the milk jug every time I wanted some, I still think it tastes better when stored in a glass container. The other day I found a 1/2 gallon glass milk bottle in a dumpster…it’s mine, now!! :-)

    • Amen Robin! The way we’re having to work hard to return to simple living would make our great grandmothers laugh their heads off! It’s how they lived all along! :) All of the modern conveniences have taken us so far away from how life was ALREADY “green” in so many ways back in the day. :) Love your comment!

  17. PS- the old clothes didn’t get thrown out even when stripped of their hardware- they became quilt pieces, patches, doll clothes. rags. ..we didn’t waste good money on paper towels (and I still refuse to buy them).
    There are beginning to be a few stores that will allow us to bring our own containers for bulk foods. Definitely a WIN-WIN situation!

    • @Robin I’m so with you on the paper towel thing! That is a BIG pet peeve of mine! I love having cloth napkins on the table!

      My other pet peeve is the name brand anti-bacterial wipes that you use to disinfect your kitchen countertops. What a waste! They are so expensive, so small, and really….. is it any faster than wiping down with bleach and water kept in a spray bottle? I think not! Funny how big corporations make you think you need all this stuff! I cant wait until more people stop wasting money and quit buying this stuff! Down with the corporate clowns! =)

  18. When the mason jars no longer seal (for whatever reason….chipped edge, maybe), they’re still great for storage and craft projects! And the used flats can be used on those jars, too. (By the way, you’ll love the reusable Tattler lids for canning.)

  19. Hi, I’ve been using Mason jars for a while now and put EVERYTHING in them. Wanted to let people know that Walmart sells BPA-free plastic wide-mouth lids for them. I had so many of the two pieces metal lids that it drove me nuts. Now I use the plastic ones for my food. I keep them in a handled, plastic basket in my pantry. Got that from Walmart too for a couple of bucks. Just FYI :)

  20. Love your website! We use mason jars (when we empty them of homemade jam!) for our every day drinking glasses, and for bulk items in our pantry. Also for crafty-type items like buttons and old wooden spools of thread. So many uses- even as biscuit and cookie cutters! Love seeing everybody’s ideas…off to follow a few links (and look for your homemade toothpaste recipe!). :)

  21. I use the quart & half gallon jars for ‘dry heat sealing’. I shop for beans & grain products on sale/clearance. Place product in open jar and heat in a 250 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. I usually place multiple jars on a cookie sheet to make handling easier. Cap immediately for an airtight seal that will keep food for years. Perfect for long term food storage! I live on the Texas coast and like to be prepared. Only drawback I have heard of in storing food in glass is in earthquake prone areas.

    • Wooden storage crates with wooden slats between the jars could probably help with earthquake country + mason jars, just a thought. Lived in Seattle for more than half my life, slept through all the quakes we had there. But if the glass jars can’t touch, if they’re in a container heavy enough (plenty of full jars) to not rock off the shelf, that should help a lot with breakage. Hopefully! As I stated before, all quakes I’ve lived through were small enough I slept through them. Think the strongest was a 4-something. Nothing ever fell off my walls.

  22. We do a ton of canning and use the tattler lids. I love that they are reusable. We also have the plastic screw-on lids and with a few of them we drilled small holes in the top and use them as shakers.