14 Uses for an Empty Glass Jar

A while back I wrote about twelve things you could do with an old shower curtain liner. In the same spirit of saving money and cutting down on waste, I now offer you fourteen things you can do with an empty jar. Of course, what you’re able to do with a jar will depend on the size of the jar. A big spaghetti sauce jar can be used differently than a baby food jar. But in general, here are some ideas for all those jars.

Glasses: I’ve been in several restaurants where the beverages were served in Mason jars. It brings a country feel to the meal and it’s a cheap source of glassware. A plus: Jars are harder to break than fine glassware.

Vases: A big jar makes a great vase, especially if you tie a ribbon around it or decorate it in some way.

Gifts Maybe you make a great sauce, jam, or dip. Make your best recipe, put it in a jar, and give it away.

Paint uses: When the kids (or you) want to paint, fill an old jar with water and use it to rinse of the brushes between colors. You can also use a small jar to store opened paints for later use.

Organizers: Big or small jars can be used to store everything from paper clips to bulk food items. You can use a big jar as a pencil holder on your desk, too.

Bug houses: When the kids want to catch fireflies, caterpillars, or other creepy crawlies, use old jars as bug homes. Just don’t forget to punch holes in the lids so the poor bugs can breathe.

Piggy bank: Cut a slit in the lid wide and long enough to accommodate money and you have an instant piggy bank.

Decorative display: Maybe you have some seashells you want to display. Put some sand in the bottom of the jar, drop in the shells and you have an instant reminder of your beach vacation. You can do a similar project with dried flowers from a wedding, matchbook covers from your travels, potpourri, or any other small object that you value.

Picture frame: Roll the picture, stick it in the jar and let it unroll. When it conforms to the shape of the jar, you have an interesting picture frame.

Votive candle holder: Baby food jars are great for holding small votive candles.

Planter: Put some small pebbles in the bottom of the jar to help absorb excess water. Add in some soil and then plant herbs or small flowers. Put it on a windowsill or sunny desk and you have an instant garden.

Rolling pin: A large jar makes a great rolling pin in a pinch. Just don’t press down so hard that you shatter the jar in your hand.

Keep things fresher: Many things we buy come in packages that allow them to go stale rather quickly. Take your items out of their original packages and put them into jars. This works great for pet treats, snack foods, cereal, and baking items like sugar, flour, and salt.

Holiday craft projects: You can put a Jack-o-lantern face on a jar and light it with a candle at Halloween. You can put ears on a baby food jar and make an Easter bunny. You can decorate a jar with Christmas designs and set it out filled with Christmas candy. Use your imagination and turn your old jars into festive holiday projects.

Regardless of what you want to do with your jar, you’ll probably want to remove the old label first. The best way I’ve found to do this is to soak the jar in warm water for a few hours or overnight. The labels should come right off. If there’s any glue left behind, try using nail polish remover (the kind with acetone) to remove the glue. Once you’ve got the label off, don’t forget to thoroughly wash and sanitize the jar, particularly if you’ll be using it for food. A clean, label free jar can then be used for any number of creative projects.

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8 Responses to 14 Uses for an Empty Glass Jar

  1. Susan says:

    I like these kinds of posts, “100 things to do with cardboard, etc.” Why? Because I run across so many items I hate to throw out and for which I later find a use. And no, I’m not officially a hoarder, yet; however, Depression-Era folks kept every little piece of tin foil they could scrounge and were considered wise. I think I’ll follow their lead.

  2. Kevin D. says:

    Creepy. I decided to soak and de-label some glass jars yesterdays for the first time ever, and I didn’t really have a reason… just seemed like I might come up with something.

  3. Hilary says:

    I just started using jars in the past 4 months or so for storage of everything. I freeze food in them, use them for cotton balls in the bathroom, etc. And I recently went to the Container Store, where they were literally selling clean jars for storage. So I think it’s the right path! It also feels very chic, in my opinion.

  4. Homebody says:

    Yes and also for your cash instead of envelopes. That is what the lady on Tell Debt Do Us Part uses with little labels.

  5. Mal says:

    When I first started work 40+ years ago we used empty Jam Jars to drink out of.

    Now adays I just use them for saving up loose change.

  6. Cindy M says:

    I have several very large jars with lids I refuse to get rid of but can’t think of much to do with other than make sun tea or kool-aid once in awhile, ha-ha. I have sugar and flour in 2 others I have. I frankly much prefer glass containers for storage, in the microwave and for carry-ins at my church. They seem cleaner to me. The smaller ones are great for organizing smaller things.

  7. This one is my fav. As my kids are always bringing in bugs 🙂

    Bug houses: When the kids want to catch fireflies, caterpillars, or other creepy crawlies, use old jars as bug homes. Just don

  8. lydia says:

    I have a question i have two empty fabreeze candle holders and have no idea what to do with them. my husband suggested we use them as drinking glasses but not sure if it is safe to do so even after washing them several times. Any advice?

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