Some of the most beautiful items in the world are created of glass. Glass has been around for many centuries and was at one time very difficult to get and in high demand. It’s one of the oldest man-made materials in the world.
If you stop to consider it, glass is unique in many ways. It can be fluid, can be clear or opaque, or can be hard or very fine and delicate. It’s an odd sort of combination of liquid that changes to solid, but it doesn’t unthaw, like water that’s been changed to ice.
Small battles and even wars have been fought over glass. Glassmakers take such pride in their work that they create unique marks to stamp on their glassware. These marks number in the thousands and down through history have left behind a story about the person or the company that made the glassware.
Crystal and fine hand blown glass can sell for hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Have you ever considered what glass is actually made of and how it is formed?
Most of us don’t really think about it when we use a glass product.
Believe it or not, glass is made of something to which we have ready access in nature. It’s not a magical mysterious formula; it is very simply made of sand. That’s right, ordinary, everyday sand. That said, you’re not going to see glass made on the local beach. It takes an incredibly high temperature to melt sand – about 1700 degrees C or about 3100 degrees Fahrenheit.
The sand is heated to this temperature and when it solidifies again, it doesn’t turn back into the gritty grinding sand we’ve always seen. It changes entirely into something that is completely unique and it never changes back.
Did you know that when the United States tested a bomb in the desert in 1945, all of the sand in the area turned immediately into glass and stayed that way?
Commercial glass plants today heat sand, as well as taking glass from waste products (recycling) and mix it all together to use the glass that we’ve had in the past. Once it’s all melted it is poured into molds to make the glass that we use in our homes today.
Very unusual or very fine glass is still made using a tube on which a lump of melted glass is placed. Air is blown through the tube and the glass is shaped into fine stemware or other precious glassware. Very skilled glass blowers can command hundreds of dollars for their hand blown glass items.
Now that you know a little more about how glass is made, it won’t seem quite so common the next time you take a drink from your wine glass, will it?