The jar's mouth has a screw thread on its outer perimeter to accept a metal ring or "band".
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The band, when screwed down, presses a separate stamped tin-plated steel disc-shaped lid against the jar's rim. An integral rubber ring on the underside of the lid creates a hermetic seal. The bands and lids usually come with new jars, but they are also sold separately. While the bands are reusable, the lids are intended for single use when canning. Largely supplanted by other products and methods for commercial canning, such as tin cans and plastic containers, glass jars and metal lids are still commonly used in home canning.
Mason jars are also called Ball jars , in reference to the Ball Corporation , an early and prolific manufacturer of glass canning jars; fruit jars for a common content; and glass canning jars a generic term reflecting their material and purpose.
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Lightning fruit jars , another type of Mason jar, were not as common as the screw-thread version, but they were popular for home canning in the late nineteenth 19th and early twentieth 20th centuries. In the United States, standard-size Mason jars are made of soda-lime glass and come in two sizes: They are also produced in a variety of volumes, including cup half-pint , pint , quart , and half- gallon. Among the most common U.
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Jarden Corporation, based in Boca Raton, Florida ,  retains the license to use the Ball and Kerr registered trademarks on home-canning products as a part of its branded consumables business. In home canning, food is packed into the mason jar, leaving some empty "head space" between the level of food and the top of the jar. The lid is placed on top of the jar with the integral rubber seal resting on the rim. A band is screwed loosely over the lid, allowing air and steam to escape.
The jar is heat sterilized in boiling water or steam and the lid is secured. The jar is then allowed to cool to room temperature. The cooling of the contents creates a vacuum in the head space, pulling the lid into tight contact with the jar rim to create a hermetic seal. Once cooled, the band is removed to prevent residual water between the jar threads and the lid from rusting the band. If the jar seal is properly formed, internal vacuum will keep the lid tightly on the jar. Most metal lids used today are slightly domed to serve as a seal status indicator.
The vacuum in a properly sealed mason jar pulls the lid down to create a concave-shaped dome. An improper or failed seal or microbial growth will cause the dome to pop upward. French chef Nicolas Appert invented the method of preserving food by enclosing it in sealed containers.
Among the earliest glass jars used for home canning were wax sealers, named in reference to the sealing wax that was poured into a channel around the lip to secure a tin lid. This process, which was complicated and error-prone, became popular in the late s or early s and was commonly used to seal fruit jars from the early s until about The wax sealing process was largely the only one available until other sealing methods were developed,  and widely used into the early s.
By far the most popular and longest used form of closure for the glass canning jar was a zinc screw-on cap , the precursor to today's screw-on lids. It usually had a milk-glass liner, but some of the earliest lids may have had transparent glass liners. Since they were made in such quantity and used for such long periods, many of them have survived to the present day.
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