How to Replace the Wire Bails on Ball Canning Jars

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Wire and bail enclosures are obsolete for canning purposes.
Wire and bail enclosures are obsolete for canning purposes. (Image: Zedcor Wholly Owned/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

Old-fashioned Ball jars with the wire bail enclosure have been out of production for some time, but many people still collect them. A pantry shelf filled with these attractive jars has retro charm, especially when the contents are widely varied in color and shape. The USDA no longer endorses their use for home canning, but the jars still make attractive storage containers for many kinds of dry goods. Replacement seals and wire bails can be ordered from online suppliers when you need to change them.

Things You'll Need

  • Ball jars
  • Replacement wire bail sets.

Remove the old bail from the lid. Squeeze the ends of the lid's wire, where it forms two loops, and extract it from the hinge pins on the jar. Remove the wire and set the lid aside.

Locate the loop that holds the ends of the wire together on the neck of the canning jar. Pinch the ends of the wire together and slide off the loop. This will free up the wire.

Remove the wire and bail closure mechanism from the neck of the jar and discard it. Clean the jar and lid thoroughly where they had been in contact with the original wires.

Place the new wire and bail mechanism around the neck of the jar with the hinge pins and bail mechanism facing up. Squeeze the ends together and slide the wire loop over the ends to hold the wire in place.

Wrap the new wire around the lid with the loops angled downward. Squeeze the ends together and slide them between the hinge pins on the jar's wire. Let go, and the loops should expand to rest on the hinge pins.

Replace the rubber seal, if necessary, and the jar will be ready for continued use.

Tips & Warnings

  • Some manufacturers make inexpensive light-duty sealer jars for dry goods, which are available at discount stores. If you are unable to find other sources, these can provide a supply of replacement wire bails for your vintage jars.

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