It’s spring cleaning time, everyone! So what better excuse to sort through and organize your spices? Looking for spice storage can be extremely frustrating. (Too big! Not enough jars! Don’t even think of taking up my counter space!) So I schemed up my own more flexible storage system. And it’s sooooo simple: just tins, glue and magnets. Ample (and attractive) spice storage can be found on your wall or fridge, leaving your cupboards and counter blessedly free of those pesky little spice tubs. And did I mention that storing your spices in tins will help them keep their flavor longer than in glass or plastic jars?

The problem

I loved the idea of the magnetic spice rack for two key reasons. 1:  It is an open system, so you could potentially add more spice jars as needed without having to overflow storage into a cabinet. 2: Magnets mean that you can put the spices on the fridge or wall, freeing up that most-valuable-of-all real estate, counter space. I did, in fact, buy some of these jars, but they had a few design problems that irked me. The biggest one was light. Sure, it’s pretty to see through to the spices inside, but light damages spices, an unacceptable tradeoff in my book. The second problem was the tins themselves. The tub proportions were okay, but they still stick out 3 or 4 inches, which is just long enough to knock them off the fridge when walking by. I also don’t need the same shapes or amount for every type of spice, so the one-size-fits-all tin was not so great. And the magnet sheets they were mounted to gradually lost their magnetism, which made them fall off my fridge more and more frequently.

The solution (Magnetic Spice Rack)

I tried to keep this really simple.  Glue a label on the front of a shallow tin and a strong magnet on the back, that’s it! Then stick the magnets on your fridge or to any metal surface. I’m quite sure that for each of these elements, you could find a variety of products that would work well. So pick and choose you want, but I’ll give the information for the selections that I used, and some relevant reasons why.

Before you start


Selecting tins

I like to have a wide variety of spices on hand. So I knew that I wanted lots of tins, and in several different sizes. I ended up buying my tins from specialtybottle.com. I have no affiliation with them, they were just the best option I found for reasonably priced,  food-grade tins in a variety of sizes and shapes. (I’m still looking for a few long pencil case-type tins for vanilla beans and licorice.) I bought mostly 4 oz. (78 cents ea.) and 2 oz.(51 cents ea.) flat containers.

Quantity of tins

Make a list of the spices that you like to keep around. For the spices that I use most, I like to have separate containers for the whole spice, and for a small portion of the spice ground. (See storing spices for more info). So if you want doubles be sure to count that in. Just for good measure, add 10-20% more tins to your list. If you’re ordering them online, it’s definitely cheaper to order a few extras rather than to make a separate order later. Make a few extra tins and you’ll be ready to slap a label on your tin when you get a new spice.

Where to put your spice rack

First, pick a location for your spices. Mine works great on large, exposed side of my fridge, but that may not work for your kitchen. If you buy a cheap metal shelf support, your spices could be organized in a line almost anywhere in your kitchen. So think about accessibility and appearance when deciding where to put your spices, but also think about heat. Opaque tins will keep your spices safe from light damage,  but exposure to heat can be equally damaging. So avoid placing your spices near your oven or on a wall that gets hours of direct sunlight.

Magnets

The black sheets of magnet that you get at a craft store eventually lose their strength. And when you look at getting enough for a big spice rack project, they’re not that cheap either. So I turned to rare earth magnets. Rare earth magnets do not lose their strength with time and they are really, really strong magnets. This also means they can really, really, destroy your electronics. So keep them far away from your fancy gadgets. Amazon has several sources to order large quantities of rare earth magnets. I ordered 1/2″ disks that are 1/17″ thick, but any flat type of rare earth magnet would work for this project. I got a pack of 100 (around 10$) and figured that I’ll be set in the magnet department for good.

Glue

Attaching the magnets well to the tins is nearly as important as having strong magnets. If the magnets just pull off, then the system is a fail. I used a super-strong two part epoxy.

Labels

Because I’m a card carrying food nerd, I wanted to have a botanical illustration of the plant that the spice came from on the front of each tin. I printed the labels onto thick matte paper and glued them to the surface of each tin with craft glue. I love my nerdy-plant jar labels, but I’m sure that equally attractive labels could be made by cutting up magazines and adding a label, or even just printing out simple text labels on quality paper.

Assembly


Equipment:

Tins
2 part Epoxy
1/2″ rare earth magnets
Steel wool or fine grit sandpaper
a small stick (for mixing epoxy)
a circle cutter, or sharp scissors
craft glue or double sided tape (for attaching labels to the outside of tins)
1/2″ metal shelf support (optional, this is only if you want to mount your spice rack on the wall. Mine is on the side of my fridge.)

Glue magnets to tins.

Use steel wool or sandpaper to rough up the center of tin and one side of the magnet (Don’t clean off surface). Squeeze out epoxy and hardener on to the roughed up surface. Use a stick to mix the epoxy and hardener together, then carefully place the magnet in the glue. It is important to use enough glue so that it will squish out around the sides of the magnet– not tidy, I know, but the extra epoxy on the side keeps the magnet firmly attached. Otherwise the magnets tend to peel off after a while. So let the glue be a little messy, and take comfort that no one will be looking at the back of them anyway. Leave the tins to dry undisturbed, as per the directions on your epoxy.

A 4oz. tin will need 1 or 2 magnets to hold it up, depending on what you’re storing in it. The heaviest spice I’ve found is whole nutmeg, a 4 oz. nutmeg tin needs 3 magnets, whole seeds like pepper, cloves generally need 2 magnets. Powders and dried leaves will be fine with just one magnet. If you plan to stick your spice tins on a metal shelf support , be sure that your magnets are glued exactly in the center of the tin. If you are using more than one, the magnets should be spaced out to either side, but  in line with the center of the tin.

Attach labels to tins

Depending on the type of paper you use for your labels, you might need to adjust your adhesive strategy. I used a thick matte printer paper, and I was able to attach the labels to the tins with a thin coat of craft glue. Using a sticky-back printer paper would also work quite nicely.

Finishing adjustments:

If any of the lids on your tins are a little loose (a few of mine were), then just cut a small (1/2″) piece of masking tape and affix it to the inside of the tin’s lid. This little adjustment provides a little more grip and resistance if it seems like there is any danger of your lid slipping off too easily. I also like to put a little label on the inside of the tin to note when I bought that particular spice.

15 Shares:
34 comments
  1. Well I just spent two hours searching the net for antique botanical herb and spice clipart and illustrations and got zero results. I assume you can’t share where you got your photo labels? That’s what makes these so special… Either way.. Nice…

  2. I’ve been wanting to put my spices in tins for a while, I LOVE your labels! Can you share your source of images? Pretty please?

  3. Some of the images that I used were from a bargain book I found at a used bookstore called The Lore of Spices. But I did do LOTS of image searches to get the rest of them. So, a few tips for locating good images: First, check: http://www.botanical.com, and search their site for the particular spice you’re looking for. They have a very good selection of images at a high enough resolution to use for a small label– I wish I’d stumbled across the site before doing all that scanning. My other secret tip is to do an image search by the scientific plant name (ie. cinnamomum verum instead of cinnamon). A quick wikipedia search will give you the scientific name. For spice blends, like curry and garam masala, I used an image from one of the ingredients. And last, I did quite a bit of tinkering in photoshop to get a good color balance, since the images came from different sources and had very different color schemes. A little fussing with the saturation and color balance goes a long way to make a unifying aesthetic. @ August, Kat and Mieander, hope that helps!

  4. Thanks Renee, that was nice and helpful. I got almost every picture I needed. Now to adjust all the photos, pretty time consuming. Haven’t decide whether to do round circles or labels for the sides. Thanks for you help and cute idea. Kathy

  5. Thanks a lot for your reply, Renee.

    On my search for some illustrations I stumbled upon http://www.biolib.de/ which is apparently a collection of scans of pretty old books on botany. From there I got to http://caliban.mpiz-koeln.mpg.de/thome/index.html You can download the whole book or search for the Latin name. If you follow the link, just below the picture there is a link to a high-res version of the image (“Hochaufgelöstes Bild”). Maybe this saves some time for some of you

  6. This is great. I did a magnetic spice rack for my daughter. I used a piece of steel placed in a picture frame for the background. Where did you get the botanicals for your labels?

  7. I love this idea so much…how super, duper fun! I like the fronts of the containers too…not just a name, but a beautiful picture. Thanks for sharing@

  8. This is fabulous. I’ve done this for food and for small parts, with magnets and also w/ velcro and dual-lock. But this design is better, more varied.

    One question: I’ve never found rare-earth magnets at that price. Would you mind sharing your source?

  9. These are absolutely beautiful. Horticulture was my major in college and I adore botanical art. Thank you for sharing a great idea.

  10. Thanks, Jon! I ordered my magnets through amazon, I think the vendor was “Applied Magnets”– just did a quick search and it looks like the price/availability has changed slightly since I ordered. Looks like 100 1/2″ discs is 20$ or you can get 100 1/4″ discs for 7$.

  11. After getting more and more spices and not having enough room in the cabinet I decided I was going to do this, but priced it out and it was WAY too expensive. I love your links and tutorials and this will be next on my “teacher summer off” project list! I never even thought of the light and clear lids… I’ll have to make labels too. THANKS for the info and love your photos!

  12. Renee, these are so beautiful! Any chance you could share your labels, they look so perfect the way you made them and would love to have them. Thank you for letting me know!

  13. These look great! I was wondering what font did you use for the labels? They really fit with the illustrations. Thanks!

  14. I love this idea, thanks for sharing. Did you get the rectangular tin for the cinnamon sticks from the same website,specialtybottle.com? Is it one of the clear top ones or ones with the hinges? I noticed the ones with hinges doesn’t say food grade. Just curious. Thanks in advance.

  15. I did get those from specialty bottle– it is the (potentially non-food grade) hinged one. I like to live on the wild side.

  16. Just finished making my own and I’ve already received compliments. Thanks for the fabulous idea and the detailed instructions!

  17. I have the magnets and just placed the orders for my containers – I cannot wait to complete this, nothing like getting a really late start on my “summer project”. THANK YOU for the inspiration and beautiful descriptions and directions!!

  18. I just finished mine last night! Thanks for the idea and all the how-to information! I LOVE this spice rack! P.S. I just put the botanical images on the front, and wrote the names on the back. I feel like it turned out really pretty. Thanks again!

  19. Hi Renee! John Storrie told me about this site. LOVE IT! I have started working on my spice rack and found an easy way to hang the tins. I bought a few magnetic knife bars at IKEA ($8.99) and hung them on the wall in my pantry. The tins stick to them very well. No glue, no other magnets. I’ll send a picture when I get finished.

  20. What a wonderful idea. Thanks so much for sharing the steps…

    Went to the bottle site (wow-what a great resource for so many things…), then saw the different types. Which type of tin container did you use – screw, twist, or slip. Not sure what ‘slip’ is…

    Thanks so much!

  21. Thanks, Myrla! I love specialtybottle too– it’s hard to find good selection, a good price, and the ability to ship (relatively) small quantities.

  22. IKEA has these pre-made with clear tops…I have some that I use and I like being able to see the spices…I just made a label for the backside so I know what I’m looking at

  23. I adore your spice containers! I am happy to know I’m not the only one obsessed with finding the perfect way to display and store my spices. I have two questions for you regarding this method.

  24. This is absolutely fantastic!!!! Loved the idea of magnetic spice jars but like you am dubious about the clear fronts. And any that look like they are of good quality are super expensive. I will definitely be trying this.

  25. Hi Renee,

    I assume that you used Microsoft Word or some Office software to create and print your labels. Would it be possible for you to share that file so I can get the exact measurement for the labels? Also, I’m not proficient in Photoshop and your labels are absolutely beautiful.

    Thanks,

    Cindy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like