Glass jars & lids: The Final Word (I hope!)

You may recall the glass jar lid saga in which I recommended cleaning the tomato stains from pasta sauce jar lids with hydrogen peroxide, only to reverse that recommendation a week later after discovering that the peroxide ate away at the coating inside the lids. (And yes, as you will recall, I tried other options such as vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda…)

Used pasta sauce jars are great for storing all kinds of wet and dry foods (as an alternative to plastic containers) except for the tomato smell which is impossible to remove from the lids. Since I can’t clean them out without wreaking all kinds of havoc, I’ve resorted to recycling the lids (yes, my recycling company confirms that they will be processed) and replacing them with new ones. With information provided by Scott at Least Footprint, I’ve been able to find lids for the two main types of pasta sauce jars on the market.

The jar on the left side of the top photo is a regular mason jar. So far, I’ve only found three brands packed in these types of jars: Classico, Safeway Select Verdi, and 1849 Pasta Sauce. There may be others, including other store brands, but Safeway is the only big chain store that I checked. These types of lids are the easiest to find, as they are regular canning jar lids sold in most supermarkets.

The more common type of pasta sauce jar (like the one on the right in the top photo) has a 63mm twist-off lid. Per Scott’s suggestion, I was able to purchase a box of them from Kitchen Krafts two weeks ago. However, when I check the web site tonight, I can no longer find them. I’ve sent an e-mail to the company. Hopefully, they will get more. I have found something that looks similar on another web site, Wholesale Supplies Plus. These are advertised as having plastisol liners. The rep at Kitchen Krafts assured me that their lids were lined with rubber, not plastic. But I’m skeptical about that claim. The inside of these lids seems pretty plasticky to me.

Brands that use the 63mm twist off lid include:

I’m using these jars to store sugar, flour, couscous, baking soda, chocolate chips, and many other dry goods as well as leftovers in the fridge and freezer. Yes, you can freeze glass containers. Just make sure you allow hot jars to cool before putting in freezer and vice versa.

Because I’m not sure about the coating inside the twist off lids, I’m using these types of jars to hold dry foods that will not actually touch the lid. I’ll save the mason jars for wet foods.

This post updated 10/07/2007.
 

20 comments
Sharon V
Sharon V

I am not sure this is the answer, because I have gone through a similar transformation only to find the tin lids have BPA in them. So now I am searching for glass lid inserts they are around and BPA free. Check it out. @Sharon V 

jam jar
jam jar

I didn't try to make preserve food yet, but my mom does and she's using kilner jar for her food preserving.

Nichalus
Nichalus

Hey I found this article and blog when doing a quick search through your website. I am aware of the danger of all plastics including PETE water bottles. I unfortunately am still using them for my spring water and can often actually taste the leached pthalate. I know, that's horrible and I plan to get onto a different water system soon; actually set up a water filter that I have. For those lucky reader who find this post who are in the same boat, I'll give away a couple goodies. You can neutralize fluoride from tap water, with eggshell cocktail (calcium acetate) made from eggshell soaked in vinegar. It reacts with sodium fluoride ions to form inert calcium fluoride before you drink it which will not bind to bone. Several passes through a brita filter after sterilizing with polar pure type iodine will kill off the mycoplasma in tap water. Then you take the triple filtered water and store it in glass bottles to get it out of the acrylic-styrene PLASTIC Brita pitcher. You can add a final stabilizer of colloidal silver to inhibit any further bacterial or fungal spore germination in your bottles. Nice yes? In fact in the past I have used a Brita filter to filter store bought #2 plastic distilled and spring water. The Brita will pull out much of the #2 plastic VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) to give the water a much better taste. Finally you can use laminar mica crystal ceramics to structure the water making lighter and much more hydrating. Or you can use something like "phi sciences" silica drops which do much the same thing. Like that? :-) I really didn't get the gist of the article above - it doesn't seem to make a very sharp point. I found it because I searched for PLASTISOL. I am very concerned about the use of plastisol, not to mention BPA in canning and bottling lids. What set me off on my concern is the fact that it has a strong smell which gets into food. Through logical reasoning you can conclude that a plastic which releases a strong smell is leaching VOC's(Volatile Organic Compounds). These are essentially aromatic hydrocarbons. These compounds are released from most petroleum based materials including crude oil itself, which most plastics come from. Plastisol is actually a form of vinyl with plasticizers in it. Plasticizers keep soft plastic pliable and prevent it from becoming brittle and cracking. Hard #6 Polystyrene I believe, has less plasticizer and that probably explains why it is so brittle. Bang it and it will shatter not unlike glass. Anyways, I first became concerned about plastisol when I started using mason jars for dry food storage; I actually have never done heat canning. But I smell everything; I have a well refined sense of taste and smell. When I stuck my nose inside a brand new Ball mason jar with the plastisol seal and BPA enameled lid, I immediately detected a strong chemical sort of burnt vinyl odor. This had me concerned, and even before I ever contacted Ball to get answers, I knew there was something not good about it. I had actually taken measures to rectify the issue. This was before I learned about Tattler brand re-useable canning lids which while still plastic, are both BPA and Plastisol free. They actually have separable genuine RUBBER seals like the old fashioned Ball lids USED to have. They are probably much better for dry storage but I question their safety for heated home canning. I much rather wish they would develop a stainless steel lid. What this all boils down to is that plastisol in canned food goods has become nearly unavoidable. If you eat or drink any prepacked foods that come in a glass jars, they will have it. It appears to have become an industry standard due to the more reliable sealing capabilities it has as opposed to traditional rubber. It probably costs less too. When I talked to a Jarden Home Brands representative, I was also told that this was the case after being informed of the name of the compound. I don’t actually have the full chemical name memorized, but I should. Apparently over the years they discovered that there was a higher percentage of failed seals using traditional rubber O-rings. Plastisol is much softer due to the plasticizers and forms a more reliable gummy seal when heated. Like all vinyl it will eventually break down when exposed to high heat and become weathered and brittle. That's because the VOC plasticizers slowly migrate out into their environment. If you’re using the Ball brand lids, now they say that they are for one time canning use only (I guess because the metal warps or something). So since that’s the case you get a fresh new plastisol & BPA seal every time. Happy-Happy! Joy-joy! It is obvious that heat seems to speed up the process of vinyl decomposition. After theorizing on this process, I tested my hypothesis in a couple of ways. I received a brand new shower curtain from my mother which had a terrible vinyl smell. I had read an article some time ago which stated that new vinyl shower curtains can off-gas for a number of months(or years?) raising the indoor VOC content of the atmosphere in a bathroom above safe limits even established by the EPA. Instead of throwing away the product before I had learned that there are eco-friendly vinyl-free shower curtains, I decided to test my hypothesis of "cooking" my shower curtain. I took it outdoors and placed it in a 5 gallon bucket. Next I boiled several pots of water and poured some powdered generic dishwasher detergent in with the curtain. Then I filled the bucket up with the boiling water OUTDOORS, and stirred it with a broken mop handle occasionally over the course of an hour or two. I left it sit until the water had cooled then took it out and rinsed it off really good. I may have repeated this whole ordeal twice, but the point is that after all was said and done I observed that the odor of the curtain material was significantly diminished, and decided my effort had been a success. I hung it up in my shower and it never smelled of vinyl again, though it probably still off-gassed some very small amounts. I believe I saved myself from most of the toxicity. When the curtain grew mold I would take it outside, lay it flat out on the pavement or grass and scrub it clean with a bristle brush and ajax powdered bleach cleanser. I probably cleaned the curtain a handful of times over the next several years instead of throwing it trashing it and starting over. I actually got kind of attached to it because it was a piece of work, plus it had frogs! By the time the curtain finally got brittle and started to crack in a couple places, I had been using it for at least 5 years. Like I said, after the initial cleaning it never smelled of vinyl again. Wow, is this turning into an article? I wish I could post it with some documentation and links to reference my sources. Oh well, maybe next time, or if I save this to a word document maybe I can later cite some sources and publish this on www.scribd.com. What this post all boils down to is this. Plastisol leaches VOC poison into foods. And, yes I tried the same maneuver with my flat Ball brand mason jar lids; boiling actually didn't work very well on them, but baking them in a toaster oven at 300 degree's for about 45 minutes did. I know they off-gassed a lot because I could smell the fumes coming out of the appliance when I went to check on them. These two steps: boiling and then extended exposure to high heat did the trick. It weathered the plastisol which caused it to stop smelling so much. At the end the material had lost its glossy sheen and was less flexible but still workable for my purposes. The rampant use of plastisol and other unknown plastic liners in food and beverage containers is a serious concern for many reasons, the least of which is that they can add a flavor or smell to the food that they contain. The worst may be those things that many would never suspect that have very little taste or smell. What actually got me out on this site tonight and writing this post is this: I have a jar of "all natural raw" almond butter (which by the way isn’t truly raw thanks to the California almond board) which is contaminated with this compound. This nut butter comes in a glass jar unsalted purportedly free of any additives or stabilizers, but they also come with a metal canning which is probably heat-sealed and it has a white plastisol seal, of course as expected. This has been bugging me for some time now, and I aim to do something about it. As far back as I recall since I switched from peanut to almond butter, I have been noticing that the top initial layer of the nut butter always seems to take on some of the smell and taste of the plastisol seal. I’ve had the same experience with bottled salsa also. But unroasted almonds have a very subtle taste that obviously can really picks up smells and flavors, and I know what they are supposed to taste like because I've been eating them for years. I can understand how the transfer of smell-taste may be more pronounced when a jars sits sealed on a shelf at the grocery for weeks or months since it was manufactured, but now I've noticed that I can even taste the plastisol VOC's continuing to get into my nut butter, halfway down through the jar! That's only after a couple days of being sealed up after eating some. It means that these VOC's must are becoming aromatic at a fairly quick pace during a couple days time and absorbing right into the food enough to keep tasting it every time. And to me that means that I have been slowly eating a little vinyl solvent every time! How sick is that?! The best solution I have figured out to my almond butter problem is to just make my own, and the same with fresh salsa storing both in glass of course but with tattler brand lids for common dry storage. If I do end up buying any more plastisol sealed food again, another option I figured out is to cut out a small circle of waxed parchment or freezer paper - the same size as the inside of your lid (for dry storage only) and place it on top of the plastisol layer before replacing the cap. I tried it and think it is helping some to protect my almond butter from taking on that sick vinyl taste. Good luck with whatever you do but in all cases it’s probably best to just avoid it by going fresh. So I plan to call Hain Celestial Seasonings Group, the maker of Maranatha Almond butter and give them my thoughts on this issue, although I don’t expect them to really care or listen to my one voice. Thier thoughts are probably “if it ain’t broken why try and fix it?” People should call companies and complain too if this issue matters to them, and tell their friends and families. Who really wants to be eating contaminated food? Not me. The only way industry will change is if there is public outcry on a large scale. That puts pressure on the decision makers like it has become with the BPA issue. Several years back I remember hearing that they were taking the vinyl out of baby toys so that they wouldn’t chew on it because...IT"S TOXIC people! Those chemicals do all sorts of nasty things to the human body. I'm really starting to get ticked off about this whole scheme of being poisoned and bombarded with pollution from every direction. It’s horrible and it has to be stopped! The only way anything is ever going to change though is when “We the People” speak out and say NO MORE - enough is enough and DEMAND change. We can wait for mainstream scientists to try and figure things out while we sit here as live guinea pigs. And don't forget you can vote and speak with your wallet. Taking the time to make simple homemade organic food instead is a big part of it. It's time to move away from all the prepared, processed, prepackaged junk that is served up for the blind consumption of the masses. Thank you.

Martha
Martha

I was discouraged when I learned that the metal lids I use for my ball jars contain bpa (even thought they don't seem to have any kind of coating).If you need bpa-free lids for storage with your mason jars, jarden makes bpa-free plastic lids for regular and wide-mouth jars (for more information, see http://www.freshpreserving.com/products/ball__regular_mouth_plastic_storage_caps/46.php?page_id=19These lids are sold on amazon.com and elsewhere, I'm sureAlso, weck makes glass canning jars with glass lids and rubber rings. They are attractive but pricey.

Fake Plastic Fish
Fake Plastic Fish

Hi Amelia. I haven't found a plastic-free travel mug myself. The one I use is stainless steel with a polypropylene lid, which does not contain BPA.Let us know if you find one!Beth

Anonymous
Anonymous

Hi there.. .I'm wondering if you can help me find a lidded coffee cup without plastic. The BPA scare has forced us to swear off plastics, but even the stainless steel or ceramic coffee cups have plastic lids... which then come in contact with the hot liquid as you drink. Any suggestions?? thanks, Amelia

Anonymous
Anonymous

Thank you so much for your information Beth. This site is so helpful. Some industries (like the plastic industry), and the government have only recently started publisizing the dangers regarding things that we use every day. I find that it so deeply disturbing.On the flip side of that, there are people like you who offer their knowledge and expertise for all of us. Thank you so very much for this blog, I've learned so much, and I think we are all going to be healthier because of you =-)I wish you the best in health and loveBethy =-)

Fake Plastic Fish
Fake Plastic Fish

Hi Bethy. It's fine to put boiling water in a glass jar. Just don't put the lid on it. Because we have found that the inside of the lid contains BPA, the same chemical in Nalgene bottles and inside cans. But the glass itself is perfectly safe.Using a glass jar with lid that contains a tiny bit of BPA is way better than using a can lined with it or plastic bottle containing it because it's only in the top and probably won't touch your water.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Hi Beth,I'm Bethy! haha. So, I have a question.I've been using a glass Ragu jar to store my water in (when I am at work and on the go).I love tea, so I decided to put some boiling water in the glass Ragu jar and make tea. Now I'm paraoid though because I'm worried that somehow the glass jar will release toxins or something like that (like my Nalgene bottle did when I faithfully carried it around for two years thinking it was safe). So, if Beth or anyone knows if it's safe or unsafe to put boiling water in a Ragu bottle, I'd be much obliged for the info.Thanks!

Fake Plastic Fish
Fake Plastic Fish

Wow, Alyssia. That's a bummer. I forwarded the info to Amanda at Enviroblog.I guess I'll just make sure my food doesn't touch the lid. I can't imagine it would hurt to store grains and beans in them, which is what I do. And for wet food, I guess I just won't fill them all the way up to the top.

alyssia
alyssia

i just wanted to say that after reading your blog on jar lids, i looked and looked for information about what the mason jar lid liner is made of and right on the ball/kerr website under their faqs it says that the lid liner contains BPA: http://www.freshpreserving.com/pages/faq/42.php big bummer. have you been able to find mason jar lids without the lining? also, i looked into buying waxed paper discs/circles to protect food from the plastic lining, but can only find them in the u.k. does anyone know where you can buy these? they are traditionally used for jam making, but i want to use them for yogurt making.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Hey, I just found your blog doing a search for tips on freezing with glass jars, as my last experiment didn't go very well. It's good to find someone else who understands and won't just give me a blank look when I say, "Yes, I know, but I don't *want* to use plastic containers." You rock.

rainypenguin
rainypenguin

Thank you sooo much for this info! With me trying not to buy plastic-packaged products anymore, this is exactly the type of stuff I need to know. And now I don't have to figure this out on my own, which is great. Thanks again!

Rob O.
Rob O.

Have you tried white vinegar for removing the tomato stains and odor from pasta jar lids? White vinegar works wonders on a multitude of challenging household situations.

jessy
jessy

perfect! thanks for posting! i'm hoping to stop buying foods that are canned (due to the plastic inside the cans. Now i'm going to start getting jars and then just reusing them - filling them with my own homemade sauces and such. so smart! i never thought about freezing jars, too! yay!and Beth - this blog is such a wealth of information - and it's so inspiring! thanks again for all that you research, write about - and update us on! :)

Radical Garbage Man
Radical Garbage Man

Ditto on the cooling before freezing.The really cool thing about getting sauce in Mason jars is that, if you are sufficiently ambitious, you can can your own (although with the larger jars, I like to freeze because it's easier to use just some of your sauce instead of all of it). Another great freezer/jar storage tip:When you make broth, sauce, pesto, tomato paste, vegetable purees, you name it, freeze the liquid in ice cube trays before transferring it to your airtight container. Then you've got very convenient amounts of homemade goodness for other recipes (you know the ones that call for 1/2c of broth -- who the hell has just 1/2 a cup of broth lying around? Oh yeah, me, in my freezer). Otherwise you end up opening a can, jar or tetra-pak and using only a little and then having the rest go bad in the fridge because you didn't get around to using it. The other cool side effect is that you're more likely to use it if its convenient and more likely to try adding broth/sauce/pesto/whatever to more recipes.Food conservation is critical to any waste reduction strategy!

Mich
Mich

That was my question--how to get the lids for the 'more common' jars. I am finding my 4 oz canning jars most delightful for small quantities :-)PS-Make sure your food is cooled completely before freezing in a glass jar...or it will break!

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

Hi Nichalus. Wow. You have done a ton of research. That's great. As to the gist of the article -- it's a very old post from 2007 and part of an ongoing blog conversation. Currently, we do still buy some foods in glass jars that mostly have coated lids and we reuse the jars to store bulk foods. It's not ideal. I don't like the plastic coating. But I don't like the plastic Tatler lids either. This is certainly less plastic than a) a plastic container or b) a BPA-lined can or c) a plastic wrapper or bag. But whenever possible, I try to avoid all packaging and opt for foods sold in bulk bins or from the produce aisle. I totally agree with you that we as individuals have to speak up! We don't have to accept the menu that is offered. In fact, that is one of the main points that I make in my upcoming book: http://www.amazon.com/Plastic-Free-How-Kicked-Plastic-Habit/dp/1616086246/ All that said, what ideas do you have for getting companies to stop coating the insides of lids with poisonous plastic? We haven't even so far been able to get them to stop coating metal cans with it. Let me know your ideas because I'm with you.