Introduction: How to Vacuum Seal a Mason Jar

Picture of How to Vacuum Seal a Mason Jar

Lets get started!

In this quick life hack, I'll show you how to make a super cheap vacuum sealer that you can use to vacuum seal mason jars! A really great build if you're a prepper!

Here's what you'll need

  • A 'Mason' jar - I used an empty jam jar that a friend was about to put in the trash can.
  • A syringe - Any syringe will do. Bigger is better.
  • 8 inches of air line tubing (pet store)
  • 2 check valves (pet store)
  • and a 3 way air line connector (Pet store)

Step 1: Watch the Video!

The easiest way to follow along with this Instructable, is to watch the video above or on my channel by clicking this link -

Step 2:

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Lets start by cutting 4 pieces of air line tubing to about 2 inches in length

Step 3:

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Take 1 of the pieces, and cut one end at an angle like this.

Step 4:

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Attach the other 3 pieces to the 3 way air line connector, Just like this.

Step 5:

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Grab a check valve and for markings that say IN and OUT.

Step 6:

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Attach the Input side of one check valve to the center of the 3-way connector and the syringe to any other side.

You should have something that looks like the last picture.

Step 7:

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Next, unscrew the lid of the jar and drill a 4 millimeter hole in the center. I say 4 millimeters because the outside diameter of the air line I used was 5 millimeters. Try and make a hole that's half the size of the air line for best results! - So if your air line is 6mm , make the hole 3-4mm for the tightest fit.

Push the angled piece of air line that you cut earlier,through the hole.

Step 8:

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Attach the input side of the other check valve to the lid and screw it back onto the jar.

Attach the 3-way connector to the check valve on the lid

It should look like the last picture.

Step 9:

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Now begin pumping the syringe until you can't pull back the plunger.

I suggest using a bigger syringe to speed up the process.

Step 10:

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You can undo the vacuum by simply detaching the check valve on the lid.

You can use this idea to extend the shelf life of anything from food to ammunition primers and powders.

If you've made it this far, congratulations!

If you'd like to see this vacuum sealer in action, just watch the video here -

Subscribe to my channel by clicking here:


cjraabe (author)2015-09-17

Great video! Also the one about removing the air from plastic bags. I'm not much of a food scientist, so please bear with me. Would this keep nuts and nut flours from going rancid without refrigeration? And can it really replace traditional canning, which I believe, perhaps wrongly, used the boiling water bath to kill organisms that spoil food or cause illness?

jimmie.c.boswell (author)cjraabe2015-09-18

no! it will not replace, traditional canning. and if there is even a small amount of water in the material, a vacuum will pull the water out. nuts do have some moisture, and could depreciate their quality. as the water vapor will null the vacuum.

with traditional canning, sterilizing in the boiling water for at least seven to ten minutes. when you put the lid on while hot, it will try to form a vacuum. but the water vapor will fill the vacuum. and a vacuum, will not prevent extremely dangerous anaerobic ptomaine and other bacteria from forming that thrives without air.

cjraabe (author)jimmie.c.boswell2015-09-18

I'm not sure what you are saying about traditional canning. My definitions are canning in a boiling water bath for ingredients with a high acid content like tomatoes and canning in a pressure cooker for ingredients with lower acid contents. . .

jimmie.c.boswell (author)cjraabe2015-09-18

yes i have watched, my mother, grandmother, and aunts do this for many years. and even something, called blanching to preserve food. and i am sure my mother, explaining to me if it is not done right. people can get sick and die. even how to sterilize the two part lids, in the pressure cooker where the boiling point of the water is higher than at normal atmosphere. and the inner lid, is loosely placed over the jar. and that the outer ring is not sealed until the end, so their is no danger of the jars exploding.

KristinM5 (author)cjraabe2015-09-17

I like this hack, but you are correct. This would only remove air, not any organisms that would spoil foods. This may be a better idea for seeds, rice and other "dry" foods. My only issue with this is you can't stack the jars with the check valves on them and you would have to continue to purchase tubing and valves (although tubing is relatively inexpensive, not sure about the valves tho)

yes it would be neat, is someone could figure out how to vacuum and seal at the same time. so that you, did not have to leave the check valve in. and the one thing about these cheap check valves, is that they do occasionally fail. most especially when too much moisture or material collects in them.

roz_rusty (author)cjraabe2015-09-17

We have been storing raw nuts for 20 years. We have used a food sealer with the attachment for jars and have processed nuts for many years. We actually stored some raw almonds and cashews for many years and didn't start to notice any taste of rancidity until they were 10 years old. That's in a cool (probably never over 70 degrees), dark shed. In a root cellar it would be even better.

bill.harvey.100 (author)cjraabe2015-09-17

This will work for most dry materials. Wet materials will already have some bacteria in them that must be pasteurized before storage, Thus the boiling is necessary. Pulling a vacuum on a wet package will ultimately fail due to the fact the water will "evaporate" into the vacuumed space thus losing the benefit and likely allowing leaks. You could vacuum seal a wet item and then freeze. It will them keep much better than just freezing alone and will prevent freezer burn.

cjraabe (author)bill.harvey.1002015-09-17

Thanks to both KristinM5 and bill.harvey.100. Your comments verify my concerns. I'm going to try this or the plastic bag method with my nut flours.

KyleTheCreator (author)2015-09-16

Fantastic instructable! Interesting technique to preserve foods and ammo. I was even thinking that this could be useful for science projects. Keep up your science madness!

Thanks Kyle!

What I created here is basically a vacuum chamber. Perfect to test how a vacuum affects physical objects (like marshmallows), water and sound!

yes this is a neat use for this in science enthusiasts. however i no longer, use this method for my vacuum chambers. kind of neat though, to watch water boil at room temperature. or fill a balloon, without any additional air. don't put any living animal in it, it would make a horrible mess. never got around, to trying this out on popcorn.

robbied (author)MadScienceHacks2015-09-17

you definitely have to try this on marshmallows!

How does it effect sound during your test?

Sound cannot be transmitted in a vacuum.

IrinaL (author)2015-09-17

Super smart - thank you!!! I was looking for it!!!

Fikjast Scott (author)2015-09-16

I like the check valve idea and also I wanted to say what a great video you made

charliewinters (author)2016-07-18

As far as sealing the tube to remove the valve, I would reckon that one could use a very hot pair of pliers to crimp the hose melting the end together. Then you could cut off the tube above the crimp.

Another option would be to make the valve flush with the lid by turning it down sideways so that it is as near flush as possible. Then you could glue on a ring to the lid that allows the jars to be stacked.

If you get some funding to do it, it would be easy enough to design a lid that could be mass produced all in one piece of plastic to simplify it. Just hook it up to your vacuum pump/syringe, and viola. Vacuum sealed jar.

As far as storing any food stuffs, it is highly recommended by food safety professionals that one should not store food in a dry pack jar.

This could be useful for all sorts of dry supplies though.

sydkahn (author)2015-09-17

What's stopping you from putting a short piece of plastic attached to the mason jar - and pump until it is collapsed - then heat sealing it with a very hot pair of pliers.

I had something like this where a small tape tab was used to seal the hole once it was vacumend out ... like the tab-checks on

or bags like

this looks promising too -

LaserDave (author)sydkahn2016-03-31

Or... you could use a rubber plug and a standard air needle available at any sporting/camping equipment vendor or auto parts outlet that carry air-compressor fittings etc. The needle is inserted into the rubber plug and the air is pumped out then withdrawn, the rubber will "self-heal" the same way soccer balls and other inflatables are done.

But if you don't mind a bit of initial fiddling and being creatively resourceful and dedicated, here's a method I've used for removing air bubbles from resins and epoxies, and it works REALLY well.

Choose a drill bit 1/16" -1/8" smaller than the outside diameter of the tubing to drill the hole. Twist and force the 2" section of tubing to make "threads" with the sharp edge of the drilled hole. You can cut the tubing on an angle to help get it started, and clip it short and square afterward, leaving a length of 1/4" or so.

The challenging part: You need to find a small "part" that will fit within the tubing, it must allow air to move past but will jam when it settles in the hole. When the vacuum is drawn and stopped, the part blocks the hole and prevents air from going back into the jar. With pliers or other tool, the part is then forced further down into the tubing until it expands the tube at the metal and creates an unmovable lock which seals the jar permanently.

or pushed into the part of the tubing that meets the hole. My choice for this "part" was the coloured bead cut from a pin, the type used for a corkboard or to mark a map location such as you see online. Other beads, a small screw, basically anything can be used as a blockage, and the tubing is clipped immediately above it. A
dab of silicone or hot melt can be put on if desired for added seal

A ring (like a roll of electrical tape, only shorter) can be set on the lid to allow stacking.

JessicaMills (author)2015-09-28

Nice idea! Could I store herbs in the jar? What do you use the jar for? Give us some ideas

QJ Neo (author)2015-09-24

I done one with a bicycle pump and it can suck more air in one action~

drinkypoo (author)2015-09-24

The "FoodSaver Wide-Mouth Jar Sealer" is actually remarkably functional and useful and only costs about ten bucks. You could use it in conjunction with your little handmade vac pump here but if you can spare twenty more dollars you can get a mity-vac or similar hand vac pump from harbor freight which is useful for stuff like automotive maintenance. Comes with all the fittings and tubing you will need, too. Anyway, I get building the vac pump, if you can scrounge a syringe you can do it for almost nothing. But the jar attachment lets you use normal canning lids.

TonyA3 (author)2015-09-24

Hi - interesting idea. It would be worth while pointing out that you should keep the tubes as short as possible. The tubes will trap air which "dilutes" the vacuum.

Another comment - rather than buying checkvalves, could this not be done with parts from pump action dispensers?

Mindmapper1 (author)2015-09-18

Ok this is a great idea for DRY goods as other stated. I would like to point out that this is not a mason jar as far as I know. This process would also work on plastic tubs which seal and plastic bags.

I did mention that it was a jam jar in the 'Here's what you'll need' list. Mason is just a brand. Any old food jar will do.

there are different types of lid and the lid shown is not suitable for vacuum sealing. I don't dispute that it might work but it equally might not. It would be better to use the right jar lids and then you know it will be successful.

jakesplacebc (author)2015-09-20

What a great idea. The valves are inexpensive and I think maybe a person could get quite a few and leave them attached to the jar lid for easy resealing for say coffee as it is an item that is opened and resealed often. The price of food and the lack of resources on the planet this can surely save money and those resources. I am looking forward to trying this out. Thanks

tbitson (author)2015-09-18

I gave this a try but can't get the vacuum to last more than 2 or 3 hours. I used some putty around the tube where it enters the lid, but the check valve seems to leak slowly. I've tried several different check valves (one really was expensive) but they all seem to leak a small amount. What did you use?

MadScienceHacks (author)tbitson2015-09-19

maybe your check valve is leaking. try plugging it with putty or 'blue tack'. My vacuum lasted pretty long.

You might be able to locate leaks by placing the jar under water to see where the vacuum is being compromised.

M. A.G (author)2015-09-18

I can't get over the check valve sticking out. Other than maybe a jr. high science class experiment I can't see any purpose at all for this type of vacuum jar system. If anyone can clue me in I'd apreciate it. All the examples given in the video were completely impractical in my opinion

MadScienceHacks (author)M. A.G2015-09-19

This instructable is definitely not for everyone. I've seen my video shared on prepper communities. They seem to see the usefulness in the idea. They are confident that in a SHTF situation or if the grid goes down, they'll have some way to continue doing preps with produce they've grown , by using this idea.

Furthermore, I personally spoke to preppers to discuss the usefulness. I mention Josh Bain in my video, who described a few applications including long term ammunition primer storage to prevent degradation. He was also one of the handful of people that requested me to find a way to vacuum seal a mason jar.

So that should answer your questions.

chuckmadere (author)2015-09-18

This idea has many possibilities. Thanks for sharing.

jimmie.c.boswell (author)2015-09-18

essencially, this is like the method i use for distilling high octane alcohol to prevent fusel oil from forming in contact with heat.

LarryB17 (author)2015-09-18

This is a good idea except for 1 flaw. How to keep the container vacuum sealed without leaking and loosing the vacuum after time?

Mothers mother used to vacuum seal mason jars of food and preserves by heating the contents "in the jar" using a large12 quart pressure cooker without the lid filled with water to just below the top of the mason jar. She would then heat the contents to just below boiling, place the 2 part mason jar lids on the jars and screw the lids in tight in place. she would then turn off the heat and allow the jars to cool overnight. The cooling would create a vacuum in the airspace under the lid that would also draw the lid tighter onto the jars. They would keep for years stored in a cool room or cellar with little direct light entering the store room. Our family enjoyed her preserves for 15 years after her passing.

On many of her preserves she would pour 1/4 inch of melted paraffin wax on top to help seal them even more before the lids were put in place.

petercd made it! (author)2015-09-18

I didnt use a syringe (although a 60ml one worked fine) but an old rotary compressor from an aircon.

I got to thinking that if one were to incorporate the valve into the lid it would do away with needing check valves or you'd just need one if using the syringe method.

I used a grommet for a decent sealing seat with a chipboard screw as the valve. The copper wire is a retainer to stop the compressor from swallowing the screw.

Naturally the best config would be a tapered rubber plug with a T piece that fits inside the jar to stop it from popping right out, then all you'd need to do is drill a simple 5mm hole in each lid.

Ive seen this idea before, but yours was a very nice instructable (great pics) that got me thinking.

Nice one.

Gartholameau (author)2015-09-17

As it happens I just used a Paint Sprayer that uses Mason Jars to hold the paints, stains and lacquers. I can keep the unused paint in the mason jar until I need it again, but wasn't sure how to remove the air so I wouldn't get a paint skim on top. You just solved that problem. Thank you, Thank you. This is what the paint sprayer looks like:,43456,43390

itsmescotty (author)Gartholameau2015-09-17

What I've been doing for my paint retention is putting propane in the dead space. Since it's heavier than air it displaces the air and I just put the lid back on. Spray cans use butane and the paint never skims on the inside. . . Only objectionable aspect of propane is the smell but otherwise it works just fine.

For those concerned about fires, explosions etc just use the same caution you would use around any aerosol that uses butane as a propellent.

I wonder if I could use my mig welder's shielding gas, 25% co2 75% argon in my partially used paint cans? I have a lot more of it than propane and it will not burn.

kinnikunky (author)2015-09-17

Love it! Do you think it might be a strong enough vacuum for degaussing resins and silicon? If I built it bigger with a pot but still hand pumped? Thanks for sharing!

i've had the same idea :p i think it should work. And the bigger syringe you take = less force you need to make the vacuum

Not quite! In fact, the bigger the syringe, the harder it is to pull, but fewer pump strokes needed to evacuate the air...

ho yeah you're right sorry. thank you

csbeltram (author)kinnikunky2015-09-17

I too just had the same thought. Glad I read the comments before asking again.

ksexton1 (author)2015-09-17

Yes, this is generally only going to be good for dry goods, stopping oxidation. Wet stuff, will still have anaerobic bacteria, like botulism.

If you do use an electric vacuum sealer to do this, it can be dangerous with powdered stuff like flour. The flour can be drawn up in a cloud as air is removed, and pulled into the pump. Most powders, if dispersed into air are highly flammable or explosive. So this can blow up the pump and jar.

You can likely get a used vacuum sealer pretty cheap, with a jar attachment and real mason jars and lids, you would not need check valves, and would have a fully stackable setup

garth.elliott.9 (author)2015-09-17

I have a vacuum sealer with jar attachments. You could use it for the vacuum. I use it on marinades as it gets nearly 100% penetration.

garth.elliott.9 (author)2015-09-17

put a large marshmallow in the jar first. It will give you a great indicator on the vacuum achieved and maintained!

treymartin82 (author)2015-09-17

How is it sealed at the very end?

lynmiller (author)2015-09-17

I reckon this is for preserving non-liquids, or things you'd rather not heat, as otherwise it'd be easier to "can" the stuff traditionally.

nolan.kriegel (author)lynmiller2015-09-17

I use it for liquids very often. I have even put beer in a mason jar and vaced it and finished it off a week later and it was still good.

About This Instructable




Bio: I am a photographer and ex-Engineering Student with more than just a curious mind. I use my knowledge about photography and basic engineering to create ... More »
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