Free or Inexpensive Ways to Find Canning Jars
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.