Canning 101: White Vinegar in the Canning Pot Prevents Mineral and Metallic Deposits

April 15, 2015(updated on December 6, 2021)

white vinegar

I was reading through the comments on the FreshTECH Electric Canner a moment ago and saw several people mentioning their frustration with their current canners because they left spots and rough deposits on the jars. Happily, there is a way to prevent this without investing in a new canner. Pour about 1/2 cup white vinegar into your canning pot when you first set it up.

Whether the residue on the jars is minerals from hard water or particulate matter from your canning rack, adding vinegar to the water will help keep it off the jars and prevent build-up on the inside of your canner. Make it part of your canning routine this summer!

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48 thoughts on "Canning 101: White Vinegar in the Canning Pot Prevents Mineral and Metallic Deposits"

  • I’d wouldn’t recommend doing this with the standard canning rack that comes with most graniteware canners. I tried this and it corroded my canning rack, then I had rusty jars. It works great with stainless racks or silicone trivets.

    1. Libby, unfortunately those standard racks will corrode over time even with just water. The vinegar should keep it in better shape.

    2. My experience has been the same as Marisa’s. I’ve been using white vinegar in the water for many years. When I forget to do it, I’m always sorry.

  • Adding the vinegar I had learned from my mother. Living on the farm we had hard water so when it was canning season mom made sure that there was always a great supply of vinegar sitting on the shelf in the basement as that is where all the canning took place.

  • Another bonus of the vinegar is that it prevents the aluminum canner from turning black, as sometimes happens with certain water conditions. I keep a small bottle of vinegar right in the Presto canner so I don’t forget to add a capful when I can.

  • I use white vinegar to descale so many things but I never would have thought to use it for this! Thanks for the tip.

  • Thanks for this! I always get a chalky, white residue, which I know doesn’t hurt the jars, but they’re not that pretty, either. Hopefully, this will help.

  • I have forgotten to add it to mine a few times – what a difference it makes! Momma taught me that trick.

  • Question: I have never used vinegar in my water for the water bath before…does the finished product have any residual vinegar taste to it by adding this to the canner when you are getting started, since the jars are completely submerged? It would be nice not to have the mineral deposits all over all of my jars after I am done.

    1. The vinegar in the canning pot water does not get into the jars at all, so it won’t impact the flavor at all. When you close a jar for canning, the ring should be tightened enough so that the air can escape but water cannot get in.

  • I started doing this years ago, I don’t even remember how I figured it out, but I felt pretty brilliant after I did! I’ve never had a residual vinegar taste at all.

  • When I’m done canning, I carefully pour the hot vinegar-water over the weeds growing through the cracks in my sidewalk. Kills ’em all!

  • That is one of the hardest things for me to remember to do. When we lived in the city (a year ago) I never needed to add vinegar. Here in the country with well water I really need to do it. I need to just store my bottle of vinegar in my canning pots.

  • Great tip, thanks for the reminder! I always add vinegar to the water for water bath and pressure canning. A little vinegar in the canner makes a big difference in ease of cleaning, when you’re cleaning jars after they’ve cooled so you can put them in the pantry.

  • Everyone seems excited about this, so maybe this is a silly question. Is it possible that the vinegar can corrode the seals at all?

  • Good to know it can go in with the canning bath water. I’ve always been hesitant to add it to the water, and I HATE that this aluminum canner and rack make a white film on my jars. I’ve been just using only water, then once the jars have sat overnight and I’m getting ready to store them (take off rings, label, etc.), I wipe them down with a wet rag dipped in a water and white vinegar to give them a quick cleaning. But now I might start just putting the water in the canner to save that extra step!

  • i keep my jars in the hot canning bath water until ready to fill . should I rinse my jars again after removing from the canning bath vinegar before filling. Thanks

    1. There’s no need to rinse the jars. The amount of vinegar is marginal and any that does remain on the jars evaporates as the jars sit out prior to filling.

  • I have not had problems with deposits or etching on my jars, but my granite-ware canning kettle has a heavy film in it. I’ve always looked at this as a cosmetic problem and not worried about it. Is there any functional reason to add vinegar if the person canning doesn’t mind a hazy interior kettle surface?

  • I have never added vinegar to my water bath. I don’t see anyone mentioning how much vinegar to use. How much vinegar you use exactly in your water bath?

  • I do this all the time on my canner because I have hard water I put one or 2 tablespoons in when I 1st set it up for canning it keeps the mineral deposits off the jars and lids its works awesome!

  • I am a water treatment engineer.
    Unless you live in areas of the country (like the Pacific Northwest ) where the tap water is very pure, or you do your canning with distilled or RO water, your tap water has minerals dissolved in it, usually in the form of carbonates & bicarbonates. Heating the water causes bicarbonates to give up their hydrogen and become carbonates. This raises the pH of the water and causes calcium & magnesium carbonate scale to form, coating surfaces with a white film.
    Adding the vinegar (acetic acid) lowers the pH and prevents the scale from forming. Adding too much could drive the pH way down & cause corrosion of the metal pot & canning bands. Vinegar is pretty safe as it’s a fairly weak acid.
    Also, if you are canning for a long period, be aware that only pure water evaporates in steam. All the minerals stay behind, getting more & more concentrated until it starts making scale despite the acid addition. Dip out a quart or so of ‘old’ water after each batch and replace it with fresh.
    This is exactly the same thing that happens in heating & power generating boilers, requiring chemical addition to prevent scale & corrosion, and ‘blowdown’ to let out highly concentrated water.

  • I just completed my first attempt at canning. I did five pints of blackberries jam and 5 pints of raspberry jam. As 64 years of age, being a wanna be chef and cook I was quite proud of myself until my jars cooled off and I saw all the white residue inside my camera and all over my jars and lids. This post was quite helpful as I made the inquiry online I was amazed that I hadn’t read it before as I did quite a bit of study before I attempted my first camping adventure. I will use vinegar in the future to my canNing pot. I am surprised that I did not see this instruction during my research. PS I am a believer….. The Jam is fantastic!

  • Help. I’m out of white vinegar. My sister replaced it with distilled water. Three gallons of it. Can I use apple cider vinegar?

  • Do you only add vinegar to stainless or can it also be added to my black canner not sure what it’s made of….thank you

  • Sure I added vinegar but does not work. Vinegar does help stop a bit of the buildup of calcium but not all. Calcium film still builds up and canner gets corroded with rust, more importantly the lifter is badly rusted. So how do I clean it. Used SOS to take off rust and it doesn’t work that great. Wondering if I can use CLR on my black with white speckled agate canning pot and lifter and how much would I use please.

  • Great tip. I live in Las Vegas and the water is sort of gross. Vinegar is defintely the solution. Thanks

  • I tried this trick for the first time. All my bands turned a nasty color, kind of blackish and some rust. I had to toss all of them. Did I maybe use too much vinegar?

  • Help I have already done a batch of tomato sauce and the jars are already coated with the white residue. What can I do to clean it off?

  • I just bought a new graniteware water bath canner and the instructions say not to add vinegar to the water. Any idea why?

  • I have a big granite ware canning pot, and I’ve always put vinegar ( 1/2 cup) in it when canning otherwise my jars are nasty w/minerals. I have had my pot 40 years and there’s no damage to this rack. ALSO IF YOU GET MINERALS ON YOUR JARS ( CLOUDY FILM) KEEP A SPRAY BOTTLE W/ A MIX OF 1/2 CUP VINEGAR TO 1 QRT WATER, GIVE OR TAKE , & LIGHTLY SPRAY JARS AND WIPE DOWN W/ AP PAPER TOWEL OR CLEAN DRY CLOTH AFTER COOLING JARS, BEFORE PUTTING AWAY. WA LA FILM IS GONE!

  • I didn’t know about adding vinegar to my canning pot and now mine has residue which almost looks like rust in the bottom of it. Is there a way to clean this?

    1. You basically just have to scrub it. Sometimes, boiling it with some water with vinegar in it can help. I’ve also scrubbed mine with a cut lemon dipped in salt. That works pretty well.

  • Can I use this technique when I am sterilizing the jars? After sterilizing my jars I noticed residual minerals on jars.

    1. Yes, it is always recommended to add some white vinegar to the pot prior to sterilizing the jars. It will help keep the jars mineral free.