Beachcombing is becoming even more popular as time progresses. People love to walk across beaches for hours on end, collecting all the treasures that lie there waiting to be noticed. A popular treasure that most beachcombers will search endlessly for is seaglass. 

Seaglass comes in beautiful colours and different shapes and sizes, but what exactly is seaglass? Keep on reading to find out what seaglass is, where it comes from, and how it is made.

What is Seaglass?

Seaglass is a fantastic combination of both natural and manmade resources. This glass started in glass factories, homes, and other places, and then the sea turned it into something beautiful that we can collect on beaches today. 

Seaglass refers to small pieces of glass that are often found at beaches, bays, and near other flowing water. It typically has rounded edges, though not always, and is almost cloudy in colour. This glass can be found in various interesting colours, but the most commonly found colours are white, green, and brown. 

Seaglass can be found all over the world and is typically found near the sea as it gets washed up by the waves. Genuine sea glass is becoming increasingly difficult to find as time goes on. This is simply because glass is not used as commonly as it has been in the past. 

Natural disasters and shipwrecks are also starting places for glass that ended up in the sea.

How is Seaglass made?

Years ago, before environmentalism was really considered, companies and people would throw their glass waste into the sea, over the edges of cliffs. When discarded into the sea, the glass would shatter and break. This is the start of the seaglass-making process. Over time, these shards of glass would get tumbled in the sea by waves and would eventually wear down in the saltwater due to friction against other materials in the ocean. 

This glass starts to become softer around the edges and more rounded, just like the pebbles that get washed up onto the beach. It can take anywhere from 7 to 10 years of constant tumbling for a standard shard of glass to become seaglass, and sometimes even longer than that. A quality piece of seaglass will have no shiny spots and is well-frosted with smooth edges. 

Seaglass Vs Beach Glass

Beach glass can be found on either saltwater or freshwater beaches, whereas seaglass can only be found on saltwater beaches. These two terms were created to help distinguish between the two different types of glass. 

The differences between the two are very slight, and it is often hard to tell the difference. Saltwater beaches are a lot more common and provide the tumbling action that seaglass needs to be formed. Beach glass can also be found at lakes too, though more commonly in America. 

Beach glass is typically less weathered and can still have some shiny spots in it, meaning the sea hasn’t entirely tumbled it. All seaglass is beach glass, but not all beach glass is seaglass. 

Both types are equally as valuable and stunning.

Where Can You Find Seaglass? 

You can find seaglass by walking along specific beaches and looking among the sand and pebbles. Some beaches are more likely to have seaglass than others. The more current and wave action, the more likely you are to find seaglass.

Water with a higher PH level and more rocks means that the glass will age faster. Each beach is different, so it is essential to do your research beforehand to avoid disappointment. Usually, the best time to go is after a storm or a strong on-shore wind. Each time you visit the beach. There will be more treasures to find because the waves constantly wash up new material. 

Some beaches are known to have larger amounts of seaglass on them, making them easier to find. 

Types of Seaglass

Essentially, anything made out of glass in the past could have been the source of the seaglass we find today. It comes in many different shapes and sizes. Here are some types of seaglass that you may find:

  • Rounds – The bottoms of glass bottles.
  • Patterned or embossed glass – These can sometimes show you where the glass originated from. Certain words, patterns, or brand names can be easily identifiable with the correct knowledge or a quick google search.
  • Bonfire glass – Glass that has been melted in a fire and then smoothed out by the sea.
  • Bubbles – Perfectly round pieces.
  • Boulders – Huge lumps of seaglass.
  • Stoppers -Bottle tops.
  • Marbles – Used as children’s toys before modern technology.
  • Bottles – Some bottles can be found still intact.

Artificial Seaglass

The exact process for making seaglass can also be used to manufacture artificial seaglass. You can tumble glass using a rock tumbler. Inside the tumbler, the pieces of glass will constantly knock against each other and will eventually become smooth and rounded pieces of glass that look just like seaglass. You can make this type of glass in almost any colour, which is a good alternative if you can’t find a specific colour but need it for business purposes. 

Uses of Seaglass

Some people just like to collect seaglass as a hobby. Their growing collections can be used for display purposes or can be stored away. However, some people are exceptionally creative and use seaglass for business purposes. There are many uses for seaglass. You can make jewellery, art, keyrings, cards, pictures, and more. What you can do with this glass depends on how creative you are.

Some things, like jewellery making, require a lot more patience, time, and skills, than other crafts. 

What is the Rarest Type of Seaglass?

One of the most attractive qualities of seaglass is the stunning range of colours that are available to find. Unfortunately, some colours are easier to find than others and may require extensive searching. The reason behind this is that some coloured bottles were produced more than others. White, green, and brown bottles were mass-produced for various purposes, so these are the most common to find. Rarer colours include:

  • Red
  • Orange
  • Yellow
  • Blue
  • Pink
  • Purple

They can be found, but it is much harder to locate these unique pieces of seaglass.

Orange Seaglass

There was no popular demand for orange bottles, which explains why it is so rare to find orange seaglass. Most seaglass of this colour is more likely to be from decorative art pieces such as glass vases and tableware. There is a type of orange seaglass called Amberina, which was popular in the 1930s when it was used to make decorative glass objects.

Red Seaglass

Another rare colour of seaglass is red, and it is very sought-after. Red was a popular colour for tableware, some bottles, and also red warning lights. 

Black Seaglass

Black seaglass isn’t actually black. When it is held up to a light, it is a dark olive-green colour. Black glass dated back to the 1700s and was commonly used for beer and liquor bottles until around 1870.

Teal Seaglass

Teal seaglass is another rare find and mainly derived from bottles and jars used for ink, mineral water, and wine. Most sea glass of this colour is from old bottles that were made between the 1870s and the 1910s. These bottles and teal coloured seaglass are very collectable due to their vintage status.

Pink Seaglass

The pink glass was used for Depression-era tableware. Most of the pink seaglass that we find today is coloured pink from the sun. Clear glass bottles were made with selenium as a decolourant. A chemical reaction between the selenium and the sun causes the clear glass to turn a light pink colour.

Cobalt Blue Seaglass

This colour of sea glass originates from bottles and jars that were used for different medicines in the 1880s and ‘pseudo’ medicines in the 1950s, such as, Noxzema, Vic vapour rub, and Pepto Bismol. This blue glass was made by adding cobalt oxide to the glass.

Milk Glass

Milk glass is completely opaque and is white in colour. It was invented by the Venetians in the 1500s but continued to be used more recently in the 50s and 60s for face and hand creams. Unlike normal seaglass, milk glass does not appear frosty in appearance.

Purple Sea Glass

Similarly to pink seaglass, the purple coloured glass is often sun-coloured. Most purple seaglass comes from clear glass bottles that were made between 1880 and 1915 that used manganese as an additive, which reacts with the sun and creates a light purple colour. Manganese was purchased from Germany and was no longer available after world war I. This resulted in these jars and bottles no longer being produced.