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7 Unexpected Ways to Use Mason Jars

by
author image Ariane Resnick
Ariane Resnick is a private chef and certified nutritionist who creates indulgent, seemingly “normal” food out of clean, whole food ingredients. She has cooked for celebrities including Gwyneth Paltrow and Matt Groening, and has been featured in media such as InStyle, Star, Huffington Post, Refinery29.com, Men’s Fitness and the Food Network's "Chopped."
7 Unexpected Ways to Use Mason Jars
Mason jars reporting for duty. Photo Credit Lori Werhane/iStock/Getty Images

Mason jars have been hugely popular for years now in culinary and craft communities, and with good reason.

They’ve been the driving force behind food trends like Mason jar salads, and Pinterest is overflowing with crafty DIY uses: host gifts at weddings, air fresheners, butterfly feeders and even for cooking and baking!

Here are seven ways to use Mason jars in ways you might not expect. Don’t worry if you aren’t Pinterest-level crafty: I’m not either! But if I can do it, so can you.

Make a room freshener with zero harmful chemicals.
Make a room freshener with zero harmful chemicals. Photo Credit Dear Sparrow/LIVESTRONG.COM

1. Good-Enough-to-Eat Air Freshener

Air fresheners are great for covering up odors and keeping a room smelling fresh. Unfortunately for our lungs and bodies, commercial air fresheners often contain such chemicals as acetaldehyde, which is a likely carcinogen and may cause reproductive harm. They also contain BHT, an endocrine disruptor and skin, lung and eye irritant.

Enter the Mason jar: With just baking soda, dried lemon peels and essential oils, you can make your own room freshener with zero harmful chemicals.

What You’ll Need:

  • 4-ounce Mason jar
  • Mason jar lid ring
  • 4-inch scrap of breathable fabric
  • 6 tablespoons of baking soda 2 tablespoons of dried lemon peels
  • 2 tablespoons of dried lemon peels
  • 20 drops of your favorite essential oils (I use lemon and ylang ylang)
  • Optional: a decorative Mason jar wood topper

Directions:
1. Mix baking soda, lemon peels and essential oils together in a bowl.
2. Pour mix into a Mason jar.
3. Cover with scrap of fabric.
4. Seal fabric on with Mason jar lid ring; if using an optional lid topper, place that on fabric before securing with ring.
If the scent starts to fade, give the jar a shake to refresh. This should stay active for several months.

A coffee scrub eschews floral scents for gender-neutral essential oils.
A coffee scrub eschews floral scents for gender-neutral essential oils. Photo Credit Dear Sparrow/LIVESTRONG.COM

2. A Body Scrub for Everyone

For some reason, body scrubs are distinctly feminine products sold mostly in floral scents and pastel packages. But who decided that men and tomboys don’t need to slough off dead skin too? To elevate a simple scrub, coffee is often used because it can help with cellulite and saggy skin, tightening and smoothing it temporarily.

Rather than going the girly route of vanilla and roses with this coffee-licious scrub, I added the gender-neutral cinnamon and cedar wood essential oils.

Since cinnamon is energizing and cedar wood is relaxing, the two balance each another; this is a great addition to your shower routine once or twice a week.

What You’ll Need:

  • 8-ounce Mason jar with lid
  • 1/3 cup each sugar (regular, not powdered), sea salt, coffee and neutral cooking oil
  • 7 drops each cinnamon and cedar wood oils

Directions:
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and pour into a Mason jar, sealing tightly.

Veg out for breakfast with frittata in a jar.
Veg out for breakfast with frittata in a jar. Photo Credit Dear Sparrow/LIVESTRONG.COM

3. Veggie and Cheese Frittata Jar

The original use for Mason jars was, of course, culinary: They were — and are still — used for canning jams, pickles and fruits. But now the options for cooking with Mason jars are almost endless.

This frittata jar is a balanced main dish with vitamin-rich kale, antibacterial garlic and protein-heavy cheese. You can swap out any of the ingredients (except eggs) to create your own favorite flavor combo. An eight-ounce jar is perfect for a main dish without leftovers when served with a side salad.

Servings: 3
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 8-ounce Mason jars
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups of chopped kale
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup of sharp cheddar or pepper jack cheese
  • 2 tablespoons of sliced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon of neutral oil (i.e., algae, canola, corn, peanut, vegetable, olive)
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dill weed

Directions:
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- In a skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat; add onion and saute for five minutes.
- Add garlic, kale, paprika and dill, and cook five minutes more. Remove from heat and let cool.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk eggs with milk and salt.
- Coat three Mason jars with oil spray and layer veggie mix and cheese into them; pour a third of the egg mix into each jar.
- Bake until golden, approximately 20 minutes.

Mason jars filled with olive oil give a vintage look to photographs.
Mason jars filled with olive oil give a vintage look to photographs. Photo Credit Dear Sparrow/LIVESTRONG.COM

4. Vintage Photo “Frame”

While it might seem a little strange, it’s becoming trendy to use Mason jars filled with olive oil to give a “vintage” look to photos. Black-and-white photos are employed, as they take on an overall sepia tint easier. For an added visual effect I added objects, such as a ring my mom gave me and a shell we picked together at the beach.

Since neutral cooking oil gives only a slight tint, I used extra-virgin olive oil for another “frame” for a black-and-white photo. The result: A more bright and vibrant yellowing.

And if you’re worried that the oil will damage your original photo, make a copy and save the original for a non-oily frame!

What You’ll Need:

  • 16-ounce Mason jar with lid
  • Photo that will fit into the jar
  • Slightly less than 16 ounces of oil

Directions:
1. Place the photo into the jar (trim to fit if needed). Photos shown are facing out into the front of the jar , but you of course may place them in the center or at the back of the jar.
2. Add any objects that you’d like to include with the photo.
3. Fill jar until just shy of the top with oil and seal tightly with lid.

Capture the spirit of a specific event or period in life.
Capture the spirit of a specific event or period in life. Photo Credit Dear Sparrow/LIVESTRONG.COM

5. A Moment in Time Capsule

As we get older, there are so many events in our lives that we wish we could remember more clearly — a kind word spoken, a great meal or a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

Over time, the details can get fuzzy. But by creating a “moment in time” capsule of the event, you’ll be able to remember everything because it will be right in front of your eyes!

What You’ll Need:

  • Mason jar of any size and a lid
  • Small items that fit in a Mason jar that are relevant to a specific life event. I picked my perfect first date: I included the perfume I wore that day, the small gift she gave me, seashells from our beach walk and other small details.

Directions:
Arrange the items in the jar in a way that suits your fancy and seal tightly. Done!

Invite some fluttering friends to dine alfresco with this butterfly feeder.
Invite some fluttering friends to dine alfresco with this butterfly feeder. Photo Credit Dear Sparrow/LIVESTRONG.COM

6. Butterfly Feeder

Did you know that butterflies are innately attracted to the color red? For this colorful feeder, I chose a natural red dye made from beets. I also used a natural sea sponge instead of a commercial sponge. DISCLAIMER: This will test your crafting skills, but you can do it!

What You’ll Need:

  • 12-ounce Mason jar with lid
  • 12 ounces of hot water
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of natural red dye
  • Spool of twine
  • Hammer and a nail
  • 1/2-inch piece of sponge
  • Optional: red ribbon or other red decoration

Directions:
1. Combine hot water and sugar and stir to dissolve. Cool, then add red dye. Set aside.
2. Use hammer and nail to punch an eighth-inch hole in the lid; don’t make too big or it will drip.
3. Wet the sponge, then thread it through hole until at least a quarter of an inch pokes out.
4. Wrap twine around the jar underneath the lip two or three times and tie gently.
5. Cut three other pieces of twine into desired lengths. I used three 36-inch lengths. If using red ribbon too, cut into similar lengths.
6. Tie ends of twine (and ribbon if using) to the twine on the jar; this is easier if you have only loosely tied the twine that is on the jar. Tie both sides of the twine and ribbons down so that they make a loop that goes across the entire jar.
7. Tighten the twine that’s wrapped around the jar and ensure that all ties are secure. Cut off stragglers.
8. Pour red sugar water into jar and seal tightly with lid.
9. Turn jar upside down and hang it outside.

Light the night with votive candles nestled in beans and grains.
Light the night with votive candles nestled in beans and grains. Photo Credit Dear Sparrow/LIVESTRONG.COM

7. Clean-Out-the-Cupboard Votive Lanterns

If the butterfly feeder was beyond your crafting skills, don’t worry — these beautiful votive lanterns are a breeze. I used a bag of dried kidney beans that had been in my cabinet for a couple of years and threw in some lentils and popcorn kernels for good measure.

But you can use anything in your own cupboard that you think would look nice (and that you’d like to get rid of!), such as wild rice or a dried-bean soup mix.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 short Mason jar with lid
  • 1 votive candle
  • Beans or other dry pantry goods

Directions:
1. Place votive candle in jar.
3. Pour beans or other food around the candle until just short of the top of the candle.

What Do YOU Think?

Do you have any other creative DIY ideas for Mason jars? Have you ever cooked with a Mason jar? If you try any of the ideas mentioned, let us know how it turns out!

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