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What Can You Do With Old Mason Jars?

Updated on December 6, 2013
Old jar filled with bath salts.
Old jar filled with bath salts. | Source

Repurpose, Reuse, Recycle

Repurpose, reuse and recycle old Mason and Ball jars for use as gift containers. Older canning jars closed with a rubber gasket and a wire closure mechanism that keeps the glass lid on the jar. However, this type of closure is no longer consider safe for preserving and canning foods.

I inherited boxes of these old jars from a relative, but when I found out I couldn't use them for canning, I looked for new ways to use them. Transforming them into gift containers for a variety of gift mixes was the perfect solution.

This Christmas or for any special occasion, transform your old canning jars into something special.

Please Note

Obviously, don't mix two or more of these recipes in the same jar....the first recipe is for BATH salts, to be used in the bath tub, and the other recipes are to make edibles for people and pets.

Use these recipes at your own risk, please. If you think you're allergic to the ingredients in any of these recipes, skip them, please.

First Step: Clean the Jars

Before making any of these recipes and adding them to a vintage canning jar, take the time to thoroughly clean and dry the jars and lids. This is especially important if they have been in storage for any length of time, as many antique and vintage glass jars are before finding a new purpose.

Hand-wash antique jars in hot, soapy water using dish washing liquid. Rinse thoroughly and air dry or dry with a clean, lint-free towel before using. Discard the rubber gaskets if they are still on the old jars; they cannot be used again, and tend to get dry and brittle over time.

If the metal closure is rusted, use sandpaper to remove the rust. Hand-paint the metal a new color or leave as is for a natural effect.

Make sure the jars are spotlessly clean and dry before filling.

Gift Recipe 1: Scented Bath Salts

Scented bath salts are easy to make. You can make up a batch in a large ceramic or glass bowl and use a funnel to fill various glass jars and containers.

You will need:

  • One quart of Epsom salts (sold at pharmacies)
  • Three envelopes of unsweetened Kool Aid
  • Glass jars
  • Funnel

There are two ways of filling the jars:

  • Method 1: Mix the Epsom salts and the unsweetened Kool Aid powder in a glass or ceramic bowl. Pour into jars using funnel. Seal, close, and attach a tag. You may want to list the ingredients for people with allergies.
  • Method 2: In a clean glass jar, pour Epsom salts until the jar is one-third full. Add a layer of Kool Aid powder. Fill the jar with Epsom salts. Top off with the remaining Kool Aid powder. Keep a ratio of 3 (Kool Aid powder) to 4 (Epsom salts). You can mix it by shaking the jar, or leave in pretty layers like a sand painting.

Add a tag to the jar that includes the ingredients and instructions. To use the bath salts, place half a cup into the bathtub as the water is running. Swish it around with your hand to mix the salts into the bath. Do not ingest.


Gift Recipe 2: Homemade Corn Bread Mix

Here's a second idea - make your own quick bread mix and package in a recycled glass jar. Attach a bow and a card with the remaining instructions, and you have a thoughtful gift.

Another way to use old jars is to fill them with your own unique dry mix to make yummy treats. This corn bread mix is easy to assemble. You will need to add a tag or label with the instructions to make the bread. This is important, because there are some wet ingredients you cannot add to the mix until you're ready to bake.

To make the dry cornbread mix, you will need:

  • 1 cup of yellow corn meal
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix together and pour into a quart-sized jar. Add a label that lists the following:

To the dry ingredients, add:

  • 1 egg, well beaten
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 2 tablespoons of melted butter

Preheat oven to 425 F. Grease an 8 x 8 glass baking dish. Mix all ingredients by hand and pour into the dish. Bake for 20 minutes. Makes 16 one-inch sized pieces of cornbread.


Gift Idea 3: Homemade Dog Biscuit Mix

Similar to the idea of making corn bread mix and sharing it in a recycled Mason jar, how about making DOG biscuit mix? If your friend or family member loves her canine companion, this is a thoughtful gift. Tie a cookie cutter in a dog or dog bone shape to the jar with a ribbon, and make sure the jar is labelled DOG TREATS so it is unmistakably for a dog!

All Free Crafts has great instructions for making the mix and packaging it.

Making a Pretty Top for Your Mason Jar

When you're giving a gift, you'll want to wrap it up nicely. You can make a pretty top for your mason jar gift by cutting out a circle of cloth roughly twice the diameter of the jar top. Place it over the top of the jar and use a rubber band to secure it. Then, tie a ribbon over the rubber band to hide it. Leave a long tail on the ribbon, and use a hole-punch to punch a hole in the end of an index card. Add the ingredients and use instructions (for the bath salts) and baking instructions (for the corn bread or dog cookies) to the index card. Place the entire jar inside a lovely gift bag with colorful tissue paper and you have a beautiful, thoughtful gift.

© 2013 Jeanne Grunert


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    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 3 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama


      Wonderful hub. Loved it. Very helpful. Voted up and every choice. You are such a talented person. I know that you are God-gifted by writing such a loving-story about a fading artform of America: Mason jars. I am totally serious.

      Many of the 20 or 30 something's if asked what is a Mason jar will laugh at you and answer that they do not know.

      And I grew up with Mason jars and Kerr canning supplies. I would watch my mom and dad (mostly mom for dad was in the field) do the canning of things in the summer for that winter came.

      At age five, I never understood why they would stand over a hot woodstove and watch a pressure cooker for lids to pop then sit them out so carefully, but I understood well when mom would prepare one of her famous meals when winter was upon us.

      I Cordially Invite you to check one or two of my hubs if you need a laugh and then become one of my followers.

      I would love that.


      Kenneth/ from northwest Alabama

    • rls8994 profile image

      rls8994 3 years ago from Mississippi

      Excellent way to reuse the jars! I love creating unique little gifts. Great hub! :)

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      What interesting ideas. I re-use mason jars, so I appreciated this! Thank you.

    • Jeanne Grunert profile image

      Jeanne Grunert 4 years ago from Virginia

      Thank you FullofLoveSites and grandmapearl! Much appreciated :)

    • grandmapearl profile image

      Connie Smith 4 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

      Excellent and practical ideas for repurposing mason jars. I like the bath salts, especially. Thanks for sharing ;) Pearl

      Voted Up++

    • FullOfLoveSites profile image

      FullOfLoveSites 4 years ago from United States

      Quite cool ideas! Giving gifts using mason jars is practical as they can be used again and never be thrown away, as they are pretty-looking as you can see the contents inside. Thanks for sharing! :)