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21 Brilliant Ways To Reuse Glass Jars

21 Brilliant Ways To Reuse Glass Jars

All throughout the year, glass jars are in season.

Pickle jars, mustard jars, jam jars, peanut butter jars, Mason jars…

Tall ones, short ones, blue ones, clear ones. Glass jars can be found in all sizes and colors. They are omnipresent, in abundance and infinitely useful.

Glass jars can surely be recycled when you are through with their contents, but do they have an even higher purpose?

We believe so, and have 21 ways to prove it.

Creating a zero-waste home

In the spirit of living sustainably and creating as little waste as possible, chances are great that you are already limiting the amount of plastic in your home. That’s wonderful news – and a terrific place to start on your quest to embrace all the brilliant uses for glass jars!

The choice to adopt a zero-waste mindset, allows you to (re)think of materials in a new light.

And with a sustainable future in mind, the concept of zero-waste is about creating a circular economy that keeps good materials in motion – in essence, removing the idea of trash.

Glass is an exceptional material that can be reused for as long as it does not break, far better than plastic containers in any event!

Why glass is better than plastic

Glass is superior because it is:

  • non-porous, meaning that it won’t transfer food smells
  • keeps foods safe (without leaching any harmful material into them)
  • reduces landfill waste
  • saves money
  • easy to clean
  • plus, it looks better than plastic

Please remember, never use non-canning jars for canning purposes!

Canning jars are built to withstand both heat and pressure, other random jars can crack, even explode, when brought to high heat.

If you have vintage jars that are just too beautiful to throw away, use them as vases or decorative containers. Keep items in use that make you happy – recycle or re-gift the rest!

That being said, what do you do with all of those leftover jars that have no place to go?

21 Ways to Reuse Glass Jars

Once you put your mind to it, you will start seeing potential uses for your glass jars everywhere! On Pinterest, on Instagram, on every other social media channel, and beyond.

In our home, glass jars get reused on a frequent basis, since we do a lot of canning and preserving, to the tune of 150-250 jars a year.

Jam out, chutney in, some version of preserves gone on to another foodstuff, such as dried mushrooms.

We also use them for lunches on the go, as simple vases, or an impromptu drinking vessel for herbal teas. Anything goes.

Surely we can be more creative than that?!

Read on to discover more ideas on how to reuse your glass jars, to inspire you further.

Reusing glass jars for food

Glass is a natural, eco-friendly option for storing food, whether it be for wet or dry goods.

If edges become chipped or cracked on your glass jars, use your best judgement in repurposing them for storing food (not for canning!), you can always lend another lifetime to them around the home in a myriad of ways!

1. Fermented foods

Fermented salsa in a glass jar

A fermentation crock is always a useful object in the kitchen, particularly if you are fermenting veggies on a regular basis.

However, if you are simply looking to make an occasional jar of salsa, or a smaller batch of sauerkraut, any clean old jar will do. To keep the ferment happily under the water, just add a smaller glass cup as a weight on top (one that fits inside the jar opening).

Find the best ever salsa recipe here:

Wild Fermented Salsa Without Whey

2. Sourdough starter

Sourdough starter in glass jar

A traditional sourdough starter can be made in any ceramic bowl, though it can also be stored in a Mason jar with a loose-fitting lid.

Plus, it looks beautiful, slowly bubbling away on the countertop, freeing up all those extra bowls for mixing cakes and serving salads.

Learn how to make a sourdough starter from wild yeast here.

3. Spices

Spices in old jars

Instead of buying spice jars outright, why not find a jar (combined with food you love to eat) from the store. Slowly eat your way through jar after jar of it and collect them as you go.

You can also keep refilling your existing spice jars from the bulk section of the grocery store, or grab a new homestead skill and learn to make your own spices.

Here is a garlicky spice to start: How to Make Your Own Garlic Powder

4. Dried herbs

Dried oregano in a glass jar

As we forage and dry our wild findings throughout spring, summer and fall, we know that storing them properly is essential.

They must remain dry throughout the winter months, to be of use in herbal teas when they are needed. One way to store them, is in breathable, natural fiber bags, the more elegant option however is glass jars with labels.

If you have open shelving, a full shelf of herbal home remedies is a wonder to behold – everyone can admire your homestead and foraging skills from afar. Especially when those jars harmonize among one another too.

5. Bulk goods

Pulses, honey, coconut flour, nuts; anything goes.

Naturally, you will have to be careful when the jars are full and heavy, but the thought and act of helping the environment is definitely worth the extra effort.

If you are lucky enough to have a store with refillable options near you, take advantage of it – and don’t forget to bring along your own jars for refilling!

15 Pantry Staples You’re Storing Incorrectly – How to Store Dry Goods to Save Money & Preserve Flavor

6. Storing lard and tallow

Homemade lard in a glass jar

Your grandparents may have had an enamel pot for bacon drippings and leftover grease, but if you are about to render your own lard or tallow, you may take pleasure to see what is inside.

Make sure the jars you use are of canning quality, because it is best to pour the hot fat into the jars. They will then seal on their own, leaving you with all the pork rinds you can eat right now.

Have you acquired this essential homestead skill? Learn how to render lard on the stove right now.

7. For leftovers

Extra jars are perfect for storing leftovers, especially when you are prone to meal planning, cooking up a storm and working ahead.

Ditch the toxic plastic containers and reuse the glass jars that you already have. The lids fit tighter than on plastic and are less susceptible to leaking, we even take lunch in glass jars for hiking trips.

8. Freezing soups and broths

Vegetable stock in glass jars

Batch cooking often happens on a homestead, or where a backyard garden is flourishing. What to do with all that extra chicken broth or chili? Freeze it.

And make sure to reuse glass jars as a sustainable plastic-free alternative.

Afraid your jars will crack? Read more to find out what kind of jars are suitable for freezing, and heat to thaw the contents too:

How to Freeze Food in Glass Jars Without Plastic @ Smarticular

9. Salad dressing shaker

Salad dressing in a glass jar

Forget the bowl and the whisk! Just add all the ingredients of your homemade vinaigrette to a jar and shake. It can’t get any easier than that.

That being said, nothing beats a Mason jar salad for lunch on the go.

A cake mix in glass jars

When reusing glass jars, take the time to think about more than just yourself.

How can you use them as gifts for the ones you love, and create an item of value at the same time?

Cookie and cake mixes are two delicious ways to keep breathing life into those jars, try these recipes to find out for yourself, just how much fun giving can be:

Gluten-Free Cookies in a Jar (Paleo, Vegan) @ Detoxinista

Gift in a Jar: Fudgy Snack Cake @ MidwestLiving

Uses for glass jars around the home

The reuse of glass jars extends beyond the kitchen to include all living areas, plus the garage.

Test your DIY skills and see how many different spaces you can fit them into. Perhaps you can come up with a few creative ideas of your own!

11. Glass jar luminary

Glass jar luminary

No matter what time of year, lighting up the night has become a passion of humankind. From candles to luminaries, for outdoors or in, brightening up the evening is as warming as it is beautiful.

There are oh, so many ways to create a glass jar luminary, we’ll let you search for yourself and browse through the hundreds and thousands of options till you find the right one that catches your eye.

12. Candles

A handmade beeswax candle in a glass jar

Everyone loves the flickering flame of a beeswax candle to relax by at the end of a hard-working day. And while hand-dipped beeswax candles are easy to make, candles in glass jars are even easier.

Heat up the wax, add some essential oils and pour gently into a glass jar.

For more detailed instructions, learn how to make beeswax candles in jars here.

13. Terrarium

For anyone with a green thumb, terrariums are definitely something to experiment with.

And you can make them in any size or shape jar (even a fish bowl!), so if you have a jar that just doesn’t seem to fit in with the rest, start a little garden in it, put a smile on your face and just be happy!

Here’s our guide to building your own terrarium.

14. DIY Cosmetics

Homemade lip scrub in a glass jar

In the spirit of living sustainably, sooner or later you will come to the conclusion that chemicals are out, and DIY cosmetics are for you.

With all natural ingredients and essential oils that you love, you can create anything you like – and that likes you back.

Reuse your old cosmetic containers by refilling them with something new, or dive even deeper and find 10 more ways to repurpose cosmetic containers that you’ve never even thought of.

15. Soap dispenser

Adding a pump to your old Mason jars takes a bit of work, though it is a clever way to upcycle.

Make your own by following the steps here:

Easy DIY Mason Jar Soap Pumps @ The Gracious Wife

16. Sewing kit + button holder

Sewing kit in a glass jar

Tired of losing your marbles, or your buttons? Put them in a jar, add a lid and forget about it. At least you’ll know where to find them when you need to make repairs to your favorite clothing.

That being said, go ahead and add some spools of thread, sewing needles and a small pair of scissors. You will be surprised how much goodness can fit into a glass jar.

17. First aid kit

In Girl Scouts I carried a first aid kit with me at all times in a reused, waterproof film container. It had a few band-aids, a needle for pulling out slivers, and some ointment for cleaning wounds.

Now, upsize that canister and store everything in a glass jar, making sure that you have everything you could possibly need for a minor injury. Be prepared for anything!

18. Storage for garden seeds

Not to confuse your popcorn for planting with popcorn for popping, be sure to store your garden seeds in a different cabinet than where your food resides.

Glass jars are wonderful for seeing what seeds are inside, plus, you can just pop a little paper label in with the seeds, so you know exactly what you have – and how much of it for the next planting season.

19. For plant cuttings

Herb cuttings ready to propagate in water in glass jars

You know those small jars that look cute, but are too small for storing food, only it is so difficult to throw them away?

Put them to good use by taking plant cuttings of mint, Philodendron, Begonia, Christmas cactus and so on. It is fun, rewarding, and a beautiful way to fill your home with green plants.

Learn How to: Propagate Plants in Water @ Natural Living Ideas

20. Container for nuts and bolts

Nuts, bolts and screws in a glass jar

Dad did this, Grandpa too, and for good reasons. Jars just work great for storage.

Unlike with plastic, you can readily and clearly see what is inside. And when the lids are fixed to a horizontal surface, you can just screw the jars off, with the contents inside, and grab what you need – if only a screw or two.

21. Match holder

Matches in a glass jar

Want to start a fire in style? Just pull out your glass jar match holder at the next campfire and offer a light!

It is guaranteed to strike up a conversation about a zero-waste lifestyle.

Find out how to do it here:

DIY Mason Jar Match Holder @ 17 Apart

Decorating glass jars

If you would prefer to embellish your plain glass jars (rather than leave them “as is“), there are a few things you can do to make them your own.

For starters, give them a good wash by soaking them in hot soapy water to remove the label. Some labels wash off easily, others are a bit more stubborn.

The more resistant labels may take some scraping with the back of a knife, or with the aid of steel wool, to remove them.

You can then wrap them with twine or yarn for a rustic look.

Glass jars can be painted inside – or out! Just be mindful about what you put in them once they are painted, stay clear away from food storage.

Perhaps even more beautiful is when they are etched with your very own design!

Learn How to Etch Glass Bottles here.

You could also add stylish chalk labels to your Mason jars, so that you never confuse sugar for salt again!

I’ve been served a teaspoon of salt in my coffee before, to go alongside a nice slice of cake – don’t be that host!

Inspired to reuse all those unused glass jars yet?

Grab a reason to save the Earth, beautify your home and get creative at the same time – start reusing your glass jars, beginning today!

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Cheryl Magyar

Well, hello, szia and bună ziua!

My name is Cheryl Magyar and I am a homesteader, organic no-dig gardener and preserver of fruits, vegetables, herbs and life in general. I'm also a forager and a rewilder, rewilding myself and our land in Breb, Romania, along with my husband and our teenage daughter.

Since 2001 I have been living a simple life, going on 15+ years without running water inside our home, heating with firewood cut with a two-wo/man crosscut saw and enjoying the quiet solitude of the countryside where haystacks outnumber the people.

What you wouldn't guess about me, is that I was born and raised in a suburb of Chicago. If I can do this, you can too! It's a life you get to choose, so choose wisely. Because I know you're curious, I've spent 8 years homesteading (raising mangalica pigs, goats and ducks) and gardening on our tanya in Ópusztaszer, Hungary. This lifestyle is going on 8 years in Romania. I wouldn't change it for the world.

To discover more about me, and about us:

you can follow on Instagram
read into our website at Forest Creek Meadows
stop by for a visit and/or a (re)workshop
or shop our growing Etsy store Earth Gratitude Studio

Hope to see you around!