For being a transparent material, most people don’t actually know much about glass. This is also despite the fact that most people have large quantities of it throughout their house (e.g. shower doors, windows, decorations, etc.) and see and touch it elsewhere every day. So take a moment to better learn about how amazing glass really is.
Long before people learned how to make glass, nature had mastered it. When lightning strikes sand, the heat is often enough to fuse it into long, thin tubes known as fulgurites. Obsidian is formed when the heat from a volcanic eruption does the same to rocks and sand. We have examples of obsidian that ancient people had used for everything from money to jewelry to weapons.
It wasn’t until roughly 3,000 B.C. that we have evidence of people actually making glass on their own. While it would be a while before the material was standard for shower doors, early efforts at making containers and other household items were common. The Roman Empire would eventually spread the craft far and wide.
An example of Roman glassmaking called the Portland vase is one of the most valuable pieces of glass in the entire world. It’s believed to have come from sometime between 5 and 25 AD.
In America, glass containers first became widespread back in the 1850s. Their primary use? Helping people carry around and enjoy their whisky via bottles and flasks. However, glass was created in the New World far earlier. Jamestown had the first glass plant back in 1608.
Today as much as 50% of glass bottles come from recycled products. In total, close to 80% of all glass containers are believed to be from the recycled version. The material has the fastest turnaround of any curbside product. Even some shower doors can be constructed from recycled glass.
Recycled glass, which is known as cullet, even takes less energy to produce than the original version. The lower heating necessary to use recycled glass can save 40% of what it would otherwise take.
Better still, glass doesn’t lose its quality from being recycled. So the original version and one that it eventually becomes maintains the same properties we value in it.
So the next time you enjoy a nice cold bottle of beer or whenever you simply walk through glass shower doors, think a bit about the interesting life that material has led.