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How to Prevent Water Spots on Canning Jars and Lids

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Home canning can be so rewarding, water spots – not so much! Learn how to prevent water spots or film residue from forming on canning jars and lids.

There is nothing more annoying than to spend hours preserving the bounty from your home garden and end up with water spots or a white film on your canning jars and lids. Go ahead, try to wipe them off! Ugh!

Salsa Garden

For Mother’s Day this year, my kids all went in together, along with my husband, and bought me plants for my little salsa garden. I have tomato ? plants, jalapeño plants and a bell pepper plant. I love gardening and I love reaping the bounty of my garden and sharing it with family and friends.

My little garden produced (and is still producing) a bumper crop! I was a little worried about it because we spend a large portion of the summer in Ontario. Fortunately, our daughter Morgan volunteered to tend to my little garden while we were off fishing and enjoying the great outdoors in Canada. Thank you, Morgan!

What does a salsa garden have to do with water spots on canning jars? Well, I’m getting to that….

Canned Homemade Salsa

I told you I grew what I call a “salsa garden” this summer. It was quite simply a small garden in the corner of my yard that was home to two large tomato plants, two jalapeño plants and one bell pepper plant.

I had planned to grow Cilantro, too. But had problems getting my plants to establish in the garden. And at about $0.49 a bunch, I figured I could buy what I needed.

So far, I’ve made several batches of salsa from my little garden. I think I’ve canned about 12 quarts of salsa and 6 or so quarts of pasta sauce and my plants are still producing! I’m amazed and pleased!

I am so excited for this salsa because I plan to gift it to our children for Christmas. So, back to the water spots problem.

As I was removing the jars of salsa from the canner, I immediately noticed water spots on my jars and a sort of white film on the lids. Darn it! I had forgotten an important little step that my neighbor Janet shared with me more than 30 years ago.

This little step is the secret to preventing water spots or film from forming on canning jars, lids or the inside of your canner.

Use Vinegar to Prevent Water Spots on Canning Jars and Lids

I was lucky as a young wife to have a neighbor named Janet. She eagerly shared her home canning expertise with me, including this little tip to use white vinegar in the after bath of the canner to help prevent water spots on canning jars and lids from getting water spots or that annoying white film.

Using vinegar not only helps prevent water spots and film from forming on the jars, but it also helps to prevent the film build-up on the inside of your canner.

How Much Vinegar to Use to Prevent Water Spots?

How much vinegar you should use to prevent water spots seems to be up for debate. My friend Janet told me to use about 1/2 cup white vinegar. I’ve read recently that just a couple of tablespoons is enough.

I would suggest you try a batch using 2 tablespoons of plain white vinegar and try using 1/2 cup and see which works better for you.

When to Add Vinegar

When I use a water bath canner, I typically use my canner to sterilize my canning jars and don’t use a separate pot. I place a rack in the bottom of my canner, place the empty jars on the rack and fill the jars and pot up with water until the water is 2” above my jars. I boil the jars for 10 minutes and then carefully remove the jars and place them on a towel on the counter.

Then, I add the a couple tablespoons of white vinegar to the canner water AFTER I sterilize my jars.

That’s it! That one simple little step is all it takes to keep water spots away and hard water residue film from building up on your canner and canning jars.

What Type of Vinegar to Use to Prevent Water Spots?

You may be wondering what type of vinegar to use in your water bath canner to help prevent water spots. Just simply use plain, inexpensive white vinegar. The cheap stuff. Nothing fancy.

The same white vinegar that you might use around your house for homemade cleaning products. (By the way, if you are looking for a good recipe for homemade window cleaner, you’ll find that right here.)

If you have any questions about how to use vinegar to prevent water spots on your canning jars, lids or canner, please leave me a comment below and I’ll be glad to answer your questions.

Happy canning!

Pam from The Birch Cottage

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susan holen

Thursday 22nd of August 2019

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. My jar lids look like they came from a calcium mine (probably no such thing!).

Pamela Baker

Thursday 22nd of August 2019

Well, driving through Utah a few years ago, we did see the salt beds and somewhere along our journey we saw signs for salt mines. From the little bit I know about it, there really is such a thing as calcium mines. In fact, I think you’ll find that calcium is mined all over the world. It’s, of course, found naturally in our water and it’s even added to bottled water by manufacturers. More than you wanted to know, right?! Let me know if you try the vinegar in your canner water bath and how that works for you! Happy canning!

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