What Makes Crystal Different from Regular Glass?
As a material, glass has proven to be very useful for a number of different reasons. Looking around your house or workplace, you can probably spot many of these different uses, from windows to television screens to knickknacks and glassware. There are many different types of glass as well, which can determine its specific use. The glass in your windshield, for example, is not designed in the same way as the glass in your coffee mug, or even in the windows of the vehicle. One type of glass that is regarded as rather valuable due to its beauty is crystal. But what makes your crystal awards, vases, and other crystal items any different than regular glass items?
A Mr. George Ravenscroft is accredited with the discovery of crystal glass in the year 1676, and since then the material has undergone further refinement and development. Traditional glass is usually composed of three materials: silica (sand), sodium carbonate (soda ash), and calcium carbonate (limestone). These materials are heated and melded together at high temperatures to form glass. But to form crystal, lead oxide is added during the production process.
Due to the addition of lead oxide, the glass becomes softer. This softness allows for the ability to cut the glass into more intricate shapes. Crystal is also heavier than glass, and tends to be thicker. Finally, crystal has a sparkle to it that is lacked within traditional glass, due to the refraction of light within the material. To qualify as crystal, the glass must contain a certain amount of lead. The amount required will vary depending upon where you are, however. For example, in Europe the crystal is not full crystal unless it contains as much as 24% lead oxide, whereas in the United States the glass qualifies as crystal with as little as 1% lead content.
But the presence of any lead at all within crystal worries some people, as lead exposure can have negative effects on a person’s health. The development of a lead-free crystal was therefore sought after by many. Optic crystal, a glass that is heated at higher temperatures than usual to form an especially clear form of glass, is considered as a lead-free crystal. Optic crystal is very hard, which allows for the creation of very intricate cuts and bevels upon the glass, as well as extra polish. The glass is often colored as well, and is most likely the material used to create your crystal awards, beads, jewelry, and other items.
Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” The company who sponsored it compensated me in some way. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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