Can You Reuse Canning Lids?

two jelly jars next to stack of empty jelly jars and canning lids for reuse

Treehugger / Jordan Provost

Canning lids can be reused to store dry goods and other products, but when it comes to canning food, reusing the lids is not recommended.

While the glass jars themselves are a wonderful alternative to plastic and help reduce waste, the lids can be problematic when it comes to reusing them. You should also look into the materials used to manufacture your canning lids.

Warning

Some people may claim they’ve reused their canning lids without issue, but the fact is that traditional lids are designed for one-time use only. Once the seal has been heated, the safety and freshness of the ingredients in subsequent canning sessions cannot be guaranteed.

Single-Use Sealing Lids

breakfast set up with jelly jar showing single-use canning lid

Treehugger / Jordan Provost

These are the most common types of canning lids found in the market. They come in two pieces and you can identify them by the sealing compound along the rim of the lid. Under the tin, a thin layer or liner known as plastisol has been added to expand when the jar is heated. In order to create a perfect seal, that waxy compound is designed to expand and fill in any space caused by air bubbles. By using it multiple times, you risk the failure of a seal that no longer binds properly or efficiently. This could potentially lead to bacteria or residue contaminating the food.

If you didn't buy your lids new and want to check to see if it's been used already, you can do a quick check beforehand. Look closely at the seal and check for discoloration, cracks, or gaps in the seal.

Another factor to consider is the chemicals that go into creating the seal material. Many people are unaware that the white seal under the lids contains Bisphenol a, more commonly known as BPA. This synthetic chemical is found in all manner of products that contain plastic or resin. It's generally used to harden plastic and is found in everything from water bottles to personal hygiene products. In the last few years, several jar manufacturers like Ball have removed BPAs from their lids.

Reusable Canning Lids

If you'd rather not mess with the issue of BPAs or whether a seal is in good condition, consider other options available. Resealable canning lids are easy to find and do the job just as well as traditional, single-use lids. They've been around since the 1970s, are just as good as the tin options, and are BPA-free. Simply boil the red seal and top before use and can as usual. When the rings start to wear out, you can easily purchase another supply. There are many different brands available, but two of the biggest companies for resealable lids are Tattler and Harvest Guard.

Can Canning Lids Be Recycled?

Yes, most canning lids can be recycled. As long as they've been properly cleaned and separated from the jar, metal lids are commonly accepted by most recycling programs. If you're unsure, check your local facility's rules. There may be certain requirements pertaining to whether or not the lids should be loose in the recycling bin or batched in a group. In some towns and cities, you may have to bring them to a dedicated facility for proper disposal and recycling.

Other Uses for Canning Lids

scissors and cork material to make DIY coasters with old canning lids

Treehugger / Jordan Provost

While it’s ideal to reuse or recycle the lids, when that’s not possible, there are still ways to make sure they don’t end up in the trash. Once you start brainstorming, you'll see that these tiny circles can work for numerous crafts and projects around the house, from fun activities with the kids to home decor to gifts or cooking items, the list is endless. Here are a few creative ways to give those lids a new life.

Coasters

glass of warm beverage rests on DIY cork coaster made out of canning lid

Treehugger / Jordan Provost

Choose your preferred fabric or material for the coaster. Cut out the appropriate size to fit the lid by using the lid to trace onto your template. Remember to make it slightly smaller so it will fit inside the ring snugly. Using a glue gun or strong adhesive tape, press into the lid, holding firmly to ensure the backing has sealed completely.

Holiday Decor & Ornaments

canning jars reused as tea light holders for festive holiday decor around mantle

Treehugger / Jordan Provost

Canning lids and accompanying jars are a quick and easy way to embellish your holiday decor without having to buy anything new. Place tea lights in the glass jars for a festive and cozy atmosphere. Try decorating the lids with paint, stickers, or glitter, or simply put battery-operated tea lights inside jars. Then, attach a small string to hang the ornament. Depending on which lid you use, either drill a hole, loop over the lid, or glue the string with a glue gun.

Egg holder

old canning lid is used as egg holder in steel frying pan on stove

Treehugger / Jordan Provost

If you're frying eggs, a lid ring is a handy tool to make perfectly round eggs. Simply put the lid in the pan, crack the egg into the center of the lid, and cook as usual.

Cookie cutter

hand uses old canning lid as a cookie cutter on rolled out dough

Treehugger / Jordan Provost

Aside from canning, these lids can have other functions around the kitchen. If you find yourself searching for a cookie cutter while baking, simply use a clean lid to shape the dough; this could work for homemade biscuits or doughnuts as well.

Picture magnet

Why not dress up your refrigerator with a few canning lid picture magnets? Like the coaster craft, you'll need to choose the photo, image, or design for the center. Trace the lid to create the circle and cut out. On the back, add a small strip of magnetic tape and in no time you'll fill up the space with hundreds of handmade creations.

Wreaths

Spruce up any door or wall with a DIY canning lid wreath. This simple craft may require anywhere from 10-30 lids, depending on how large (or small) you'd like your wreath to be. Feel free to paint the lids, decorate with ribbon or tape, or cover with fabric. Some people like to let the metal get rusty for a more vintage, rustic look. Once you have gathered and positioned your lids, run a string or heavy-duty ribbon through the openings and tie at the end.