Beach glass and sea glass have been around ever since the invention of glass. These are the broken pieces of glass items that have been discarded in the oceans and other bodies of water over the years. Over time, the pieces wash to the shore where lucky treasure seekers or passersby can find them. Although beach glass and sea glass are virtually the same thing, there is a slight difference. Sea glass refers to the glass pieces found in salt water oceans. Sea glass possesses a satin like patina due to the fact that the salty water works to dissolve the glass very slowly over the passing of many years .Beach glass refers to the glass pieces found in bodies of fresh water. Either way, finding one of these little treasures is exciting for anyone, and they make great inspirations for jewelry pieces.
Where Does Beach Glass Come From?
In years past, it was common for communities near the waterfronts to dispose of their trash items in the water where it would wash away. This was actually a safer way for them to dispose of their trash back then, due to dangerous landfill issues such as diseased vermin that might cause an epidemic in the community. People discarding their trash in the water is the main source of where beach glass comes from. Many people like to believe fascinating stories about how the trash was actually part of some glass that was aboard a ship that had wrecked many years ago. This could actually be possible, and the thought only adds to the mystery behind the beach glass and makes it even more of a treasure for the finder.
How is Beach Glass Made?
Beach glass starts out simply as any type of normal glass. This could be from a broken bottle or any kind of glass item. As the broken glass pieces tumble around in the water through the years, any sharp edges become naturally ground down due to the constant rolling and tumbling action. The sand basically polishes and buffs the broken glass pieces into a beautiful piece of beach glass. Over time, any sharp edges are worn smooth, and the glass tends to take on a somewhat frosted appearance. However, because beach glass is found in fresh water sources, it will not have same degree of “frostiness” as sea glass will. Sea glass is made in the exact same manner, but the salt of the ocean gives the glass a natural, chemically weathered frostiness.
Beach Glass Found in Lake Erie: Could it Be from Shipwrecks?
Lake Erie, one of the five Great Lakes of North America, has been the scene of hundreds and hundreds of shipwrecks throughout the years. One such shipwreck occurred in 1813 during the Battle of Lake Erie. As part of the War of 1812, U.S. Naval forces on Lake Erie were commanded by Oliver Hazard Perry. During an attack on a British fleet, Perry’s flagship, the Lawrence, was destroyed and sank. The Lawrence was just one of the many, many ship casualties that happened in the Lake Erie region that could possibly be the source for some of the beautiful beach glass that still washes ashore there to this day.
Lake Erie Beach Glass: Common and Rare Colors
In the Lake Erie region, to find beach glass the color of Cobalt blue would be a treat. This color is not regularly found in this region, but it does exist. Nicknamed the “sapphire” of the beach, the most likely sources for this color are the old glass bottle versions of products such as Vicks Vapor Rub, Milk of Magnesia, Nivea, Noxema, and Bromo Seltzer. Also a rare find in this area are the colors of aqua and seafoam green. This is one of the most sought after colors for collectors of beach glass. Likely sources for this glass color would be old fashioned Coca Cola bottles, old mason jars, and other types of soda bottle glass.
There is plenty of clear beach glass to be found in the Lake Erie region. Clear glass can come from just about any type of glass item and isn’t considered to be rare. Other colors such as Green, Amber, Lime, and Brown regularly make their appearance on the shores of Lake Erie. These are usually pieces from old beer bottles, soda bottles, and even medicine bottles from the past. Of these colors, the Lime green is the least likely color to find.
Other Rare Colors of Beach Glass
Red is an extremely rare color of beach glass, and the pieces are nicknamed the “rubies” of the beach. Sources are likely perfume bottles and broken traffic light lenses. Back in the 1950’s, the Anchor Hocking company produced red glass bottles that held Schlitz Beer. Today, one may find remnants of these vintage beer bottles in the form of rare, red beach glass.
Lavender and pink beach glass is usually the product of what began as clear glass. The original clear glass was clarified using magnesium (produces the lavender color) or selenium (produces the pink color).These minerals are added to give the glass clarity because the sand used in producing the glass is a natural amber color. With the passing of time, exposure to the sun causes oxidation and reacts with these minerals in the glass, creating beautiful lavender and pink colored beach glass. These are fairly rare colors to find.
Shades of purple, as well as the lime green mentioned earlier, are both rare color finds in beach glass. Likely sources for these colors include old perfume bottles and art glass. Regular shades of green and browns are fairly common and come from ordinary sources such as beer and soda bottles, and glass from other everyday products.
Beach glass and sea glass are both rare and beautiful treasures that should be appreciated. Each unique piece holds its own little unknown piece of history as well. Beach glass and sea glass can be pretty enough to resemble precious gems, and are a great alternative for creating beautiful jewelry pieces. Whether near Lake Erie or any other large body of water, take the time to look around as you walk the shores of the beach. You might be lucky enough to find a bit of beach glass or sea glass!