Monday, June 25, 2012

glass jars: saving and reusing

my friend and i were discussing my recent adventure with glass jars and i decided i should post about it. awhile back i read a blog post from keeper of the home where she briefly mentioned this topic and i got to thinking about how many free {kind of} glass jars i throw away ALL THE TIME!  you can do so many things with leftover glass jars from pasta sauce, pesto sauce, syrup, kombucha, milk, wheat germ, jams and jellies, peanut butter, salsa, vinegar, oil, artichokes, pickles, {do i need to go on?} each size and shape is perfect for a different thing and saves me money!

creative idea #18: saving and reusing glass jars
idea sparked {i can't find the exact post}

  • first step - training yourself to remember not to throw away the jars! this was hard for me at first :-)

removing labels
  • for the longest time i'd been peeling off what i could of the label, soaking it in water, scrapping off what i could with my fingernails, and then sitting in front of a movie while rubbing goo-gone on all the bottles until they were clean. 
this is what i was previously scraping off with my 
fingernails, after soaking the bottles in water. 
with some jars it's a walk in the park, others, 
it's a marathon on a 100 degree day.
i'm seeing a little crash and burn in my future. 

luckily i came across a video on pinterest about how to easily remove labels. sadly, it doesn't remove the residue the goo-gone gets off, but i now no longer need to soak {taking up my sink and sometimes also a giant bowl on the counter} and scrape with my finger nails. HUGE time and space saver! plus, i kinda liked an excuse to pop in an old movie while being productive :-)
  • set oven for 200 degrees.
  • place jars on a cookie sheet or casserole dish.
  • leave in oven for 15 minutes
  • peel of sticker
  • *sadly this doesn't work for all labels because of the different types of glues different companies use*
this what residue was left over 
after the oven method. 
sooo much better!
  • use goo-gone and magic eraser to remove leftover residue. 

adding labels
this part is still on my to do list. i'm a sucker for good presentation - something about mis-matched lids does not make my heart go pitter patter.

  • chalkboard paint. perfect for a jar that will not always be used for the same thing. i'm not confident that throwing the painted lids in the dishwasher would go well, so i plan to always hand wash them.
  • stickers. perfect for jars filled with dried goods that will always be used for the same thing.

filling them up
ok, so now what? i have 8,000 bottles...what do i do with them? 

i'm so glad you asked.

let me take you on a tour of my glass collection {so far} and what i plan to do with each size and shape. {see the links for the recipes}

shatto milk bottles -
we're getting ready to start buying
raw milk from a dairy farm.
you must supply your own jars,
so what better to use than milk jars??
GT's kombucha bottles - 
again, genius strikes - when my kombucha
is ready to be refrigerated, i'll be
storing them in these. it's perfect
to have a quick drink to grab and my 

brewing jar is free to make the next batch. 
these would also make great water bottles.
tea of republic{left} and maple syrup{right} -
i use the small neck bottles for things like 
homemade dressings and homemade extracts
basically, anything i'll be pouring
not pictured
my small neck apple cider vinegar bottle from my 
post about infused orange vinegar. perfect for 
cleaning! it actually works better than the 
plastic one i had from target which leaked constantly.
salsa, spaghetti sauce, pickle, wheat germ jars, etc. -
these size bottles are great for: 

  • storing chopped onions 
  • freezing homemade chicken broth {i'm tired of buying ziplock bags, especially when i have "free" storage}
  • storing dry goods {nuts, lentils, grains, beans, etc}. 
  • i use the spaghetti jars when i make homemade yogurt. 
  • i keep my homemade mod podge in a jar this size
  • i store bacon grease in the fridge in one of these.
Santa Cruz Organic Juice -
i got these when they were on sale
$1/bottle and they're perfect for storing
unsweetend tea
for emery. i've been reading
about what combinations of herbs are good
for certain things for baby, and how much
healthier tea is than juice. these are
perfect for each brew. i also use these for the second fermentation of kombucha, to free up my brewing jars.
pesto & small artichoke jars - 
  • call me crazy, but i store pesto in these. now that my basil plant is doing well, i'll be making and freezing pesto soon!
  • i just made my first batch of homemade lotion and these jars are perfect because you can reach to the bottom to get every last bit of lotion out. 
  • these would also be great for the dry rubs andrew makes all the time for grilling 
sam's club artichoke jar -
this is my biggest jar - i can't wait to get more!

  • also great for dried bulk items or things like baking soda, brown sugar, powdered sugar, etc.
the possibilities are endless! as i'm writing this, i keep thinking of new things to add! my friend is starting to save jars for cute christmas gifts! if you have any ideas to add to the list, i'd love to hear them!

love and free storage,


  1. It's Party Time over at Debt Free Mommy Blog and you are invited! Please come link up anything related to making your space better at and mark your calendars for every Making Space Mondays linky party. The fun begins at 9:00 pm tonight. Hope to see you there!

  2. You have a lot of great ideas for your emptied jars. I can personally only come up with half of that, but in the end I don't have enough room to store even that much of the little I think of and so, I must get rid of them. However, I really like the Tea idea, especially after I got rid of my tea maker that was too bulky and truly not needed, and found myself without a pitcher to make my own iced tea. Thank you!

  3. I love using my jars for home made broth and juice. I also want to collect more for my pantry and for decorating with. Thanks for linking up at Making Space Mondays. I hope we see you there next week! -Tabitha

  4. Thanks for all of your great ideas. I love reusing old jars. In the past I have turned a bunch into vases.

  5. Ive been using baby food jars for 'veggie dip' jars in my older kid (and even my own) lunches. The small jars work great!

  6. Another way to easily peel off GT's kombucha labels is to fill them with hot tap water and let them sit a couple minutes.

  7. Can those spaghetti and salsa jars be placed in the freezer? They won't break?

    1. ive heard many people warn against it, but i've been putting them in the freezer for a few years now and haven't had problems. The only time i've had a jar break is when i used a mason jar to freeze broth. I ended up reading that they broke bc of the "shoulder" of the jar - i filled them to the fill line, but should have only filled them until an inch or so under the shoulder. They said they broke bc as the frozen broth expanded, it pushed up into the shoulder, which isn't as wide, and forced the jar to break. Hope that helps a little :-)

  8. I just started saving my jars, as I'm doing dishes I just let the jar soak in the hot water with dish soap and I use one cap of bleach in my dishwater. Before I start on pots and pans I take a scrubbing pad and the sticky stuff comes off pretty easily. :) thanks for all the great ideas!

  9. OMG! Okay stop with the bleach and oven and all that junk!! PEANUT BUTTER!!!!! Spread a generous amount on the sticky part of the jar and leave for a few hours (I leave mine over night or a whole day sometimes) and I swear the goop comes right off! I swear I've done this to every jar I have! It'll save a lot of electricity!

  10. Thanks Anonymous for that tip! We've been recycling /reusing our jars and bottles for some time now. This tip will be useful.

  11. This post has been VERY helpful to me, thank you. I do hope somebody has told you the easier way to get labels off. I've been recycling & taking labels off jars for many years & it just takes me a few minutes. Yes, some companies are glue-happy, but they come off in a few minutes. Run water around the label for a couple seconds & peel up edges. Run a little more water to loosen underneath, take a single edge razor (like the kind in a carpenter knife or box cutter, with the hole in the middle, from Walmart, dollar store or hardware store) just push under against the paper & it'll peel up easy. Do be careful, I've been pushing before & come to a few spots where the label wasn't wet enough & the razor will slip sideways. When the label is all up & you've rinsed the remaining glue off with a plastic scratch pad or, whatever you use, then turn the jar sideways & go up side with the razor - that comes off easy wet or dry. PS I have a flat top stove & the razors are quick to peel up burnt food (like boiled over potato water or spaghetti sauce) spots - wet or dry. Tammy Blair

    1. I want to stress again to be very very careful not to push hard with the razor; I have sliced a finger before pushing too hard, too fast! T Blair

  12. That appears to be excellent however i am still not too sure that I like it. At any rate will look far more into it and decide personally! 50ml glass bottle

  13. Hello,
    We all have empty glass jars at home and often think what to do with them, and its almost impossible to discard them as they look so pretty. Get few ideas about how to re-use and re-purpose old glass jars at Threads.