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Why Is Red Glass More Expensive than Clear Glass?

Most types of commercial glass, including the kind of glass used in our frameless shower enclosures and our glass railings, are made of three simple ingredients. 

Making glass, as it has for centuries, starts with sand, which you might see referred to as silicon dioxide. The other essential ingredients are limestone, which is also known as calcium carbonate, and sodium carbonate, which is sometimes referred to as sodium ash. 

The Recipe for Colored Glass

Just as you can add a pinch of garlic or a teaspoon of vanilla extract to your favorite recipe to alter the final results, ingredients can be added to the basic formula for glass to achieve different effects. 

The recipe for producing colored glass usually involves the addition of a metal to the glass,” the experts at Geology.com explain. This is often accomplished by adding some powdered oxide, sulfide, or other compound of that metal to the glass while it is molten. 

Here are some of the most popular colors used in glassmaking and the metals which are added to create them:

  • Yellow cadmium sulfide 
  • Blue-Violet cobalt oxide
  • Purple manganese dioxide
  • Emerald Green chromic oxide
  • White antimony oxides or tin compounds 
  • Yellow-Amber sulfur
  • Brown iron oxide

 

So, What About Red?

You can’t make the stained-glass windows that were so important in the history of the church without colored glass. Well, the ancient artists who were first experimenting with colored glass, realized that some of the colors they were using to make windows would fade over time. Red glass, it turned out, was particularly likely to fade. 

Artists in many countries worked to produce a red glass that would hold its color through the years under the direct sunlight that passed through the windows,” Geology.com reports. Eventually a permanent red color was developed by adding small amounts of gold to the glass.

While the addition of gold enabled artists to create a beautiful shade of red that would remain vivid year after year, it also made red glass a valuable commodity. “Even today,” Geology.com says, “if you purchase a red sheet of glass it will cost significantly more than any other color.

We have never had a customer request red glass shower panels or red glass railings, so we don’t know how much gold would be needed or how the cost would be affected. If you are interested in clear glass for a shower enclosure or frameless glass balcony railing, however, we would be happy to give you a free estimate.  

The Luxurious Looking Glass

They may look totally different, but mirrors are made of glass – just like the beautiful frameless shower enclosures and glass railings that we make. 

Today, mirrors are part of our everyday lives. You probably wouldn’t think of leaving the house before checking your appearance in one. Most cars these days have more than one mirror. Women might carry one in their purse. Even the trendy tiny homes you might have seen on TV have mirrors.

We take mirrors for granted today, but for most of their history, mirrors were considered a luxury item. 

Early Mirror Makers

According to the Columbia Tribune, “The early method for making a glass mirror consisted of coating the back of a sheet of glass with an amalgam of mercury and tin. The surface was overlaid with several sheets of tinfoil and rubbed smooth. The entire surface was then covered with mercury. Finally, a cloth made of soft wool was placed on the surface and weighted down for a day. The glass was then tilted so that the excess mercury ran off and could be save.” 

Whew! No wonder it was considered unlucky to break a mirror! And no wonder mirrors were considered to be luxury items. 

Other advancements – like adding gilt frames and making oval or round mirrors – only added to the luxurious appeal of mirrors. 

It wasn’t until the 19th century that someone figured out how to coat the back of the glass with silver. It still wasn’t exactly easy to make a mirror, but it did simplify things and shorten the timeline. 

 Today, mirrors can be mass produced, but quality custom mirrors – as well as chic frameless glass balcony railings and clear glass shower enclosures – can still add a touch of luxury to your life.