If you grow and preserve a lot of food each year, you may have a ton of canning lids hanging around. And maybe you’re wondering are canning lids really one use only, or can you reuse canning lids more than once?
Can You Reuse Canning Lids? Why and Why Not
Most commercially available metal canning lids are marketed for one use only. This means once you’ve canned with them once, you cannot can with them again and you will need to buy new lids for future canning.
Why are canning lids one use only? According to the manufacturers the sealing material on the lids breaks down and future use may result in jars not sealing properly.
So, if you look at that statement carefully, the reason why you can’t reuse canning lids is because the jars might not seal correctly. That means there’s a chance they could seal and a chance they might not seal.
And since the manufacturer’s cannot ensure a completely safe seal, they can’t tell you that you can use them more than once.
When it comes to canning you’ll see lots of different ideas and opinions. If you read about common canning mistakes you’ll often see comments about how “My grandma canned by inverting jars her whole life, and no one ever got sick!” or “I reuse canning lids all the time, and we’re all still alive!”
The risk you take when you reuse a canning lid is an improper seal. This doesn’t mean that your jar will be obviously unsealed (though it might), but it could look sealed, but not be. So you’ll store it in your pantry and not realize that it could be spoiling or allowing bacteria into the food.
In the end, it’s up to you on whether or not you reuse canning lids in your home. If you choose not to, keep reading to see some alternatives to one-use canning lids and what to do with your lids after you’ve used them once.
If you choose to reuse your lids, I’ll cover how to make the process as safe as possible below as well.
One-Time Use Canning Lids are Not the Only Option
Luckily, one-time use canning lids aren’t the only option out there anymore. There are reusable lids on the market these days that can be used over and over again.
The most well-known reusable canning lids are made by Tattler. They come in two pieces- a white plastic lid and a rubber ring.
These reusable canning lids come in both wide mouth and regular mouth. They do cost a little more than regular canning lids, but that’s to be expected since they last much longer and can be used over and over again. So they can save you money year over year.
You do still need metal bands with these reusable canning lids.
I have used the Tattler lids a few times, and I much prefer the conventional canning lids, but give them a try and see how they work for you.
5 Ways to Reuse Canning Lids Around The Home
Luckily, just because you can’t reuse canning lids for canning doesn’t mean you can’t reuse them in other ways. They will still create a good, airtight seal on a jar used for other things.
Here are a few ways to reuse canning lids:
To Seal Your Home Dehydrated Foods: Dried foods need to be stored in an air-tight container in order to prevent moisture from reaching the food and causing spoilage.
Canning jars, lids, and rings are perfect for this use- and they still work even if the canning lid has been used before. You can even use it with your vacuum sealer if you have an attachment that works for glass jars.
To Store Your Dry Goods: Just like with dehydrated foods, your dry goods need to be stored in a sealed container to keep out moisture and potential pests. I keep my pantry items such as flax seeds, coconut, dry beans, rice, pumpkin seeds, and more in sealed glass mason jars.
Frozen or Refrigerated Items: Even if you can’t reuse your lids for preserved or canned pickles, you can use them for freezer jam or refrigerator pickles. As well as to store other cold things like homemade salad dressing or leftovers.
Craft with Them: If you have too many lids you can always use them for crafts. Lots of people use old canning lids as plant markers in the garden. You can make them into ornaments or for kid’s crafts. You’re only limited by your imagination!
Can Water: If you really want to try canning with your used canning lids again, you might want to think about canning water. Yes, you can can water in a hot water bath canner. It’s a low risk option and it’s always good to keep water on hand in case of emergencies.
How to Reuse Canning Lids Safely
Sometimes reusing lids might be a necessity. This became apparent in 2020 when canning supplies were very hard to find and many shelves were completely empty.
If, after considering the potential health risks, still want to try reusing your canning lids, it is very important to take as many safety precautions as necessary.
Here’s how to reuse one-time use jar lids for a second time:
Inspect Your Lids Carefully
Before you reuse canning lids you will want to look at each one closely to make sure it’s in good condition. It’s common for there to be a dent where the rubber seal was pressed into the rim of the jar, but if there is any damage to the lid or seal, do not reuse it. This one of the most important steps to take if you’re going to reuse old lids, so don’t skip it!
Here’s what to look for:
- Dents in the metal (where you might have pried the jar open)
- Rust or corrosion of any kind
- Cuts, holes, or nicks in the rubber gasket compound
If you see any of these, the lid should not be reused. In short, the lid should look almost exactly like it did when new. If there’s any doubt, don’t reuse it and get new canning lids instead.
Clean the Lids Well
This should be a no brainer, but clean your lids very well in hot, soapy water.
Make sure you remove any food residue or stickiness from the lids. As you clean look closely at the lids for any other blemishes you might have missed on inspection.
Boil the Lids
As I stated above the main reason for not reusing canning lids is because of the sealing material.
Once you’ve used the canning lids you’ll likely see an indent in the canning lid sealing compound from where it was pressed into the jar.
By boiling the lids this compound will soften and this indention will smooth out somewhat.
Simmer the lids in boiling water for about 20 minutes and let them air dry and cool before use.
Then you can use the lids like normal in your canning recipes. But be sure to mark the jars so you know to keep a closer eye on them throughout the season.
Be aware that you might experience a higher seal failure when reusing canning lids. This failure could happen at canning or during storage.
Be sure to check each jar carefully for a good seal before storing and then again before using. If you have any doubt at all about the seal of the jar, don’t use it.
You might want to only reuse your jars for lower-input foods. Ie. use them for water bath canning instead of pressure canning since there’s less time and effort involved.
And, even if you do reuse your lids once, they are unlikely to seal for a 3rd time. 2 times is about the maximum you can expect from a single use canning lid.
Canning Supplies You Can Reuse
Luckily, metal canning lids are just about the only canning supply that is single-use only. Here’s a list of what you can reuse over and over again when you preserve:
- Glass jars
- Metal screw bands
- Canning pots
- Canning accessories such as a jar lifter
So, buying new metal lids each year isn’t a huge investment if it means keeping your food safer.
So, in short, the answer to can you reuse canning lids, is that it is not recommended. It should be avoided, whenever possible. But if you do, or have to, reuse your canning lids, make sure to do so safely.