Where To Find Glass Canning Jars

This was our pantry, filled with jars of canned goods.
This was our pantry, filled with jars of canned goods.

Where can you find a good deal on canning jars?

If you have ever canned, you know that glass canning jars are an investment. They are not cheap. If you plan it right, however, sometimes you can usually find a source of recycled canning jars for free or at least at a steep discount.

Sometimes people will give them to you other times they will charge a small amount for them. Before going out and looking for canning jars from used sources, make certain that you know what a good deal actually is. I have seen used canning jars for sale for $1 each and if I had not done my homework, I might have thought they were a good deal. Before going out and buying used canning jars,I went to my local discount stores (Walmart or Dollar General) and priced what the canning jars cost there. I noted the density of the glass in the jars. I noticed that these new jars had canning lids and rings are included so I priced lids and rings and subtracted their cost from the value of the jars. Once I had subtracted what rings and lids cost, I knew how much a dozen jars cost, I divided that amount by 12 to determine the actual cost of a single canning jar. At that point, I knew that based on what I would pay for new jars with lids and rings, the used jars at $1 per jar was not a good buy for me where I live. This may not be the case where you live, so you will probably want to do your own calculations.

Locating Used Canning Jars

After you have determined what new jars cost, you can locate places to buy used canning jars. There are numerous places to find used canning jars.Here are a few suggestions:

  • Consignment shops.
  • yard sales
  • rummage sales
  • weekly auctions
  • estate auctions
  • family or friends who have canned in the past but no longer do
  • Advertisements on Craigs List
  • advertise on Craig's List that you are looking for canning jars.
  • Look for Free cycle ads advertising giving away canning jars
  • Advertise on Free cycle that you are looking for canning jars
  • network with others who may know someone who has canning jars to sell or give away
  • Listia is the largest online marketplace to get free stuff where you can look for canning jars.

After I started canning, finding enough canning jars to do all the canning that I wanted to do at the right price was a challenge. With creative searching, I succeeded in finding the right jars at the right price.
After I started canning, finding enough canning jars to do all the canning that I wanted to do at the right price was a challenge. With creative searching, I succeeded in finding the right jars at the right price.

Are the Canning Jars Worth Buying?

Once you have found used jars at the right price, you may discover that those jars are not good enough for canning or may not be the right size for the canning you plan to do. If you find jars that are not the right size for your canning needs or unless you know of someone who needs the size you found, have the kind you want, and you know they are willing to trade, you may want to pass up on those jars.

The first thing you need to look at when you find a possible cache of jars is to discover whether the jars actually are the right size for any lids that you already have or can buy at the store. There are some older canning jars that are what my mother called 7/8 jars that required special lids that are no longer available. You don't want these because you'll never find lids to fit them. Whenever you go somewhere that you are looking at canning jars to buy, bring a wide mouth screw cap and a regular mouth screw cap. If they fit, the jars are the right size. If they do not, they are not the right size.

Also look at the size jars that you feel that you need to store the food that you intend to can and what you will need to use to serve for a single meal. If you expect that you will only be able to use up foods stored in pint containers, you may not want to buy quart jars. Alternatively, if pint size jars are too small for what you want to do, you might do better to buy quart jars. With some foods, such as jams and jellies, you might do better canning using half pints rather than pints or quarts especially if there are only you who will be eating it. In addition, some types of food are best stored in wide-mouth jars such as large pickles or canned hamburger patties.

If the jars you find have chips around the lip of the jar, you should know that these jars are not going to seal when used for canning. They may be jars suitable for dry storage, however, but definitely not for canning. I usually throw these jars away rather using them because I don't want to accidentally use these chipped jars and find that my jars didn't seal.

Jars that are cloudy in appearance, are cloudy because of hard water. These usually clean up quite well by soaking them in 10 to 1 water/vinegar solution over night. Even if the vinegar does not remove the all of the cloudiness however, the jars are still usable. They are just not as pretty as the clear jars are.

If you follow the above suggestions, you will be certain that have found the right jars at the right price. Good luck and good canning.

© 2013 Donna Brown

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Comments 4 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

This is something we haven't tried yet but we will. Great information as always, Donna. Thank you and Happy New Year.


cygnetbrown profile image

cygnetbrown 2 years ago from Alton, Missouri Author

Thanks Bill, if you have any specific questions about canning, you know where to find me!


Alise- Evon 2 years ago

That was very helpful, cygnetbrown. I have more canning jars than I ever thought I would have while growing up or even into early adulthood- which number was "zero!"- and this year I even ran out!

Here's something else you might consider- instead of one-time use canning lids, there are reusable canning lids and rings (Tattler brand) and reusable storage caps (Ball brand) to put on after breaking the seal on the jar. I have found these a very good investment.

Voted interesting and useful.


cygnetbrown profile image

cygnetbrown 2 years ago from Alton, Missouri Author

Although I have never used tattler lids, I think that reusable lids are fantastic idea. Thanks for your input, Alise-Evon!

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