Mason jars. They're not just for weddings anymore! I mean ... they're not just for preserving anymore! I mean ... they're not just for crafting anymore! 


But seriously, you've noticed, right? The whole mason jar thing? We've all seen them at weddings and on Pinterest. We've all noted them containing laughably-small amounts of flour on whatever cooking show is cool this season. (Who stores single servings of flour, I ask you?) We've all seen them corralling nails on The Most Adorable Workbench EVA!™ (as if the sort of people who use serious workbenches hang up their filthy coveralls only to channel Martha Stewart by night).

Just last week, I saw a gal drinking her coffee out of a mason jar. Her morning coffee. She's knitted some sort of sleeve/cosy to keep the heat from hurting her hand through the glass (I think). She wasn't even going to a wedding. She was just chillin' with her mason-jar coffee.

Mason jars are taking over the world. If they were sentient, they'd already be in charge.
Ball put these limited-edition blue mason jars out not that long ago. Green ones are available too.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining ... exactly. I like a nice mason jar as much as the next lady. I enjoy the mysteriousness of the freemason brotherhood. In the 1990s, I was into the Canadian band Wide Mouth Mason. I was into masons before they were cool, okay? I have nothing against masons. 

Here's something I think, though: Mason jars might be best-used for preserving. Maybe. (I am actually uncertain about this, rather than judgemental, so bear with me.) All I mean is that mason jars were designed for a specific purpose and they work beautifully at it and have done for, what, 150+ years? Something like that. So when you repurpose a mason jar, while your project may look crazy cute, you nearly always abandon some aspect of the jar's functionality -- the rubberized lid meant to create a seal, for example, is rendered useless in many repurpose projects. 

And that's fine, I guess. I mean, they're your mason jars and you should do whatever  you want with 'em. I just wonder if mason jars might not be the best tools for every job, you know? Are the projects worth the trouble?

Let's examine some projects that are adorable, and that I have considered, since I pretty much never preserve anything and I have a whole box of unused mason jars languishing in my basement right now, but that I have nonetheless NOT undertaken, for various reasons (laziness being the main one). 

1. Spice jars. So cute. BUT, I already have spice jars that I love AND I've noticed spice smells stay in the rubberized bits of mason jar lids forever, so if you mix up your lids, you're going to have some cross-smell contamination issues. (Is that a thing? I know I expressed it badly.) Also, while I think the chalkboard-painted lids are adorbs-to-the-max, doesn't all that painting seem like a lot of trouble? Am I wrong? Maybe I'll just stick with spice jars that were designed to be spice jars? 
These spice jar images hail from A Cozy Kitchen
2. Mini wall planters! These are really appealing, aren't they? I first saw the project online a couple of  years ago. Downsides from my perspective include having to discard the lids, having to attach the jars to the wood, having to find a spot for them that will get enough sun, having to deal with drainage (the jars have none), and just generally feeling like this is one of those things that looks great on day one, but might be impossible for a person like me to maintain.
Wall-planter project pics (and instructions) from Not Just a Housewife.
3. Pendant lamp shades! Again, while lovely-to-look at, I'm just not sure I have the will to complete such a project. You'd need the lighting kits, which aren't that cheap. Or you'd need to be handy with electric stuff. I think they look best in a cluster, so you probably shouldn't make just one, etc. All that said, this project is one of my favourites. (Shout out to Kerry at First Time Fancy who just posted her own mason-jar-chandelier project  just today: Holy cow, Kerry! I am wowed by your DIY prowess.)
All pendant lamp project images and instructions are from/at the Dutch site Woon blog.
4. Bathroom storage. Again, cute. Very cute. Here's why I don't like it: no lids. Bathrooms get muggy and if your swabs and whatnot are out in the open, they will get swampy and dirty. You could keep the lids, but that would take away a lot of space and these containers are already very small.  I don't know about you, but when I buy cotton balls, they come in a big-ass bag. Where am I supposed to store my extra balls (ha), and how many times am I supposed to refill these jars in a given month? Maybe the lady who did this is just a lot less lazy than I am. (Okay. All these project-people are less lazy than I am. Let's face it.) 
Images, etc. for the bathroom storage project can be found on the Liz Marie blog.
5. An advent calendar. Sure, you've have to affix the bottoms of the jars to something sturdy, so that the numbered lids face out (making for a very heavy calendar that I am not sure is child-friendly), and SURE, the jars are glass and transparent, so you'd have to line them with something to hide what's inside, but it's still a cute idea. I am just not sure it's practical.
All these images are from Studio DIY. Click through for instructions on making the calendar.
Look, here's what I need to know: Have any of you actually done anything like this with your mason jars?* Not just for the purposes of putting a pretty picture up on your blog? Have you found a legitimately good use for repurposed masons? Something that made the work worthwhile? Please tell me. I need to know the truth.

*Other than Kerry, of course, whose post was a timely coincidence that kind of negates everything I just asked. But maybe Kerry is an outlier? Someone with an unusual amount of energy?


Emily M
02/19/2014 11:48am

I'm sorry but mason jars are for canning and preserving food (that's how I grew up using them and they were and are a precious commodity) and any other use (art or storing pasta or juice..or whatever..) to me just seems like a total waste of a mason jar. My mom would probably shoot herself if she saw how people waste these jars! I go to these "trendy" peoples houses and they store everything in mason irritates me so much!

Mason jars don't need to be re-purposed. When the canning lids start to rust you can buy just new lids and keep on preserving!!!

02/19/2014 12:11pm

I love my mason jars. I am guilty of using them for everything. It isn't a trendy thing so much as a thrifty thing. We bought enough to use as glasses at our wedding (as you would remember Jen) and then gave about half away to two family members who make tomato sauce and preserves. The rest I have utilized at home as drinking glasses and storage jars. We bought them in the first place because we catered our own wedding and the camp we used did not have any cups that weren't melamine mugs. We figured it was cheaper and more useful to buy mason jars instead of pint glasses and wine glasses that would only ever serve one purpose after we were through with them. We also created tags that sat nicely around the lip and provided paper straws so that you wouldn't have to put your mouth against the ridges of the top while sipping punch. It's also not as easy as one would think to sell these things on Craigslist or Kijiji after. I also use them to transport my home made smoothies and breakfasts or lunches to work. I absolutely detest plastic containers. I have had terrible luck with thermos containers and travel mugs (leaking in my purse or the lids not fitting right or burning myself every time I think my hot beverage is at a drinkable temperature). Sure, they don't work well for hot beverages although as I don't really drink hot drinks anymore it hasn't bothered me. I find their use for storage practical and economical for drinking glasses and lunch transport. As far as their decorative purposes, they are such a nostalgic symbol to me and some uses can be very pretty or appealing. They may have become super trendy in the past few years but just because companies are trying to sell mason jar inspired decor or paraphernalia (scented candles, vases, travel mugs, jewelry, lighting, etc.) doesn't effect their history and plethora of actual uses. Plus, pretty much every time you buy pasta sauce or fresh soups you get a free one with it! Why not upcycle instead of recycle it! It's way better for the environment to repurpose than recycle...... although I am 100% in favour of recycling too! The amazing thing about mason jars (as Emily mentioned above) is you can replace the lids if they rust or if you feel the rubber is smelling like some of your spices. I have more of the glass components than the lids at this point just because I have thrown out the bad lids after several years of use and I use them as drinking glasses when I don't have a lid for them. Also, both of my Grandfathers were/are carpenters and used them for storing nails and small wood working things in their workshops and probably never tried to be like Martha Stewart...... the jars were just plentiful and when you need storage that you can see into, they are super useful. On another note, I doubt the person who used them for growing plants knows about root rot and how you must have proper drainage if they plan to grow in those jars for any length of time. They are good for starting sprouts though!

02/19/2014 12:36pm

Your uses all seem fine to me, Meg. And it makes sense that you would want to reuse your wedding stuff. Now I just need a solution for my own! Gimme ideas if you have more of them!

I need a solution for the jars I have that doesn't replace something I already have (drinking glasses, travel cups, spice jars, etc.), and isn't too hard (lighting projects)... does such a thing exist, I wonder? Maybe I should just can some stuff or make jam like I originally intended ... back in 2007. Ha. :/

Emily M
02/19/2014 12:45pm

Its a total trend. And I can't wait until it ends. Old pasta sauce jars, old bick's pickles jars, mustard jars etc can be used and reused for short storage. With mason jars you are canning (sealing) and storing things for up to and over a year.


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