What is Glass?


At Salop Glass, our business (if you haven’t guessed) is glass. Every product we offer uses glass in some way; in fact, some of our products are made almost completely from glass. Despite this, we’ve never gone into great detail about what glass is specifically. That is until now. 

What Is Glass?

There is no ‘typical’ chemical structure specific to glass. This is due to the way that glass is made. Indeed, the typical sample of glass contains formers, fluxes, and stabilisers of many different chemicals. 

In chemistry, a former is the substance which forms the reaction. In Lime-Soda-Silica Glass, for example, this former is usually silicon. A Flux is a chemical which lowers the temperature at which the former will melt. Sodium carbonate is a common Flux

The stabiliser is the substance which hardens the glass and makes it water tight. A common example of a stabiliser is limestone. Without a fixer, any glass created will be brittle and eventually be eaten away by water erosion over time. 

As previously mentioned, this uncertainty as to glass’s specific chemical makeup is because its best not to think of a singular material. Instead, it’s much better to think of glass as a wide range of various materials which share common properties. For example, Silica Glass absorbs heat much better than common Lime-Soda-Silica Glass. Meanwhile, Uranium Glass glows in the dark. 

How Is Glass Made?

Although glass is made using a wide variety of materials, the actual manufacturing process is similar regardless of the materials used. The materials are melted together in an oven or kiln at roughly 14,000km to 16,000 degrees fahrenheit. This intense heat forms a new material – glass.

Before this material cools, it is shaped into the right shape and consistency for use. In most industrial settings, this process is done via specialised  glass cutting machines; however, for more artisanal uses, this process is done via hand tools.  

Once the glass has been shaped, it is allowed to cool gently without water or other cooling solutions. This is because when glass is cooled rapidly it tends to crack – thus making it unusable. Once the glass has reached room temperature,  the glass is considered to be complete and ready to place. 

Is Glass a Solid or a Liquid?

Although it’s easy enough to think of glass as a solid, the truth is a little bit more complicated. Although glass has many of the properties of traditional solids, atomically it is much closer to a liquid. Atoms can flow freely – just like in liquids– however this flow is incredibly slow. 

As a result, glass is considered to be a separate state of matter known as amorphous solid. As can be inferred from glass, amorphous solids have most of the properties of solids; however, their atomic structure is not as fixed as traditional ‘crystalline’ solids. This means that their shape changes over a long period of time. Other examples of amorphous solids include rubber and plastic. 

Conservatories and Windows From Salop Glass

Salop Glass manufactures and installs high quality glass products throughout the English Midlands. Whether you’re looking for Double Glazing in Telford or Windows in Shropshire, Salop Glass is the company for you. 

In our 60 years’ history, we have gained a reputation for only supplying our customers with high quality products and for being an innovator when it comes to double glazing. Today, we are one of the premier glass suppliers in Shropshire. 

Contact us today for more information on how we can help you.