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Free or Inexpensive Ways to Find Canning Jars

Updated on August 27, 2008

With canning season upon us I am almost always in need of more canning jars. To run out to the store though and pay retail for a dozen jars is not cost efficient when my goal is to save money by canning my own food. Fortunately I have had to do that very few times. I have had great success finding canning jars for free or very cheap.

Canning jars will last many lifetimes if taken care of properly and they are very easy to sterilize, so don't get squeamish over reusing them. The lids need to be new every time you can something, and the rings need to be replaced periodically, but the jars themselves are made to last. Finding them second hand is the best way to obtain them.

Garage sales are great places to look for canning jars. Even if there aren't any out tell the seller that you were looking for canning jars. Most people have a few floating around here and there. Canning jars are not something that people will typically throw away or even recycle, so when they get one as a gift they usually hold onto it. If they aren't canners themselves they usually don't know what to do with them and are happy to get rid of them.

Word of mouth is a good way to obtain canning jars as well. Again people might have these taking up space in their cabinets, not knowing what to do with them. Let people know that you like to can food and that you are always on the lookout for jars. It certainly can't hurt!

Check freecycle and craigslist. I see on these sites all the time postings for canning jars. You don't usually get to pick the exact sizes like you could at the store, but really there are only three sizes to pick from generally and I have found that I can make do with what I have on hand for almost anything. I have pickles canned in 8 oz jars, pint jars, and quart jars, it really doesn't matter much what size jar you are using, especially if it was free.

If you don't see any posts from people offering canning jars, you can always make a post requesting canning jars. Again people might want to get rid of some, but never thought to list it on one of those sites. Check Goodwill or other second hand places as well. Keep your eyes and ears open for canning jars and you will probably be able to pick up a few here and there. This might not seem like enough, but a few here and there add up to big savings in the long run.


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    • mvillecat profile image

      Catherine Dean 5 years ago from Milledgeville, Georgia

      Great suggestions in this Hub. Many second hand stores do get canning supplies in so it is always good to check them on occasion. As with everything else, jars are rising in cost and making the search for them outside of the grocery stores, a must.

    • LavonneMW profile image

      LavonneMW 6 years ago

      Be wary about using older jars. Always check for nicks in the glass around the rims and hold them up to the light to check for cracks! Only use perfect jars for canning!

    • profile image

      canning tomatoes 7 years ago

      Thanks! the info you placed here can definitely help me with my canning. It is really helpful to find jars that are inexpensive especially if you are planning to can a lot of veggies.

    • modern housewife profile image

      Sarah 7 years ago from Indiana

      I never thought about looking at garage sales for them. I will definitely start looking for them there. They are so expensive at the store! I also wanted to let you know that I added links to a couple of your hubs on my hub, the history of canning. Keep up the great work!

    • profile image

      Richard 7 years ago

      I hit pay dirt in my mothers old chicken coop, where she had stored jars from 30 yrs ago.

    • profile image

      Edith 7 years ago

      I have picked up some canning jars lately after deciding to can again after a 27/28 year break. I have found them at garage sales that advertised jars, some with little success.

      But, I hit the mother load today. It is a good thing. some of the jars are real old, probably close to 80 years old.

      I got 6.5 dozen today for $15. The woman told me they were her mother's (she was about 50) and she never had an interest in it.

      To get home, pull those gray Drey's out with pontil marks, and look at all the Ball Star Jars, many with the 1858 emblem was amazing.

      Oh, and oh the thickness! I will can with them until I die and they will still be perfect.

      Spedie in St. Louis, MO

    • profile image

      Deb 8 years ago

      I was listening to our radio "swap shop" one day and a lady called and said she had some jars for sale, at 2bucks a dozen, I ended up buying all she had, I think 17 dozen, all clean in boxes, good deal, maybe this year I can do that, Had to move to TN. and gave them all away...

    • topstuff profile image

      topstuff 9 years ago

      Jars jars,im not going to buy.Thanks