Ball began selling the glass canning jars for which the company is best known in 1884. Before expanding the business to include these jars, the company sold wood-jacketed tin cans to hold liquids such as paint and kerosene.
The five Ball brothers opened their business in 1880 in Buffalo, New York, backed by a loan from their uncle. In 1887, they moved their company to Muncie, Indiana, due to natural gas reserves there. In 1993, Ball moved the canning jar production into the company Jarden Home Brands, which manufactures Ball, Kerr and Golden Harvest jars. Competition in the jar business thinned considerably with the merger of these three manufacturers into one company.