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.