What is Glass Made of?
Imagine someone walking up to you asking, what is glass actually made of? and you as a chemistry lover not being able to answer, can you imagine how awkward that will be?
Well, I should know because this unpleasant moment is one too familiar, I was in a lovely conversation with a boy one day and suddenly he asked me a question that made me regret waking up that day.
He said, Daniel what is glass made of that makes it so different? Here’s the thing, I had no idea.
I felt so embarrassed that all I could do was just give him an awkward grin and change the subject immediately.
After that, I ran home and did my research and the answer was so simple I couldn’t believe I didn’t know it.
I made this article just so you can avoid the situation I was in. You’re welcome.
What is Glass?
This definition might seem unnecessary but I’d love every one to follow along
Glass is an inorganic solid material that is usually transparent or translucent as well as hard, brittle, and impervious to the natural elements. Glass has been made into practical and decorative objects since ancient times, and it is still very important in applications as disparate as building construction, housewares, and telecommunications- britanicca.com
What Glass is Made Of?
Almost everything is made of glass these days, from your phone screen to things we see every day and ignore like your windows for example.
And even worse is that it’s made from something we know like the back of our palms but yet we have no clue it’s the reason behind glass.
Try and guess what it’s made of
- the chemical name of glass is silicon dioxide ( SiO2 )
- it’s also known as silica an oxide of silicon,
- and also one of the most abundant compounds on earth.
Guessed it yet? putting it all together, glass is generally made of…. drum roll please….Sand!
Glass is made of sand, I know you might be wondering how this is possible. For starters how can an opaque object make a translucent one?
I’ll answer all your questions very shortly
To make glass, sand is heated to extremely high temperatures about 1700°C or 3090°F which is more than the amount of heat needed to turn carbon to diamond.
And then melted into a liquid before it is allowed to cool down again into glass, But even cool it still never settles into a solid it instead stays as a slow-moving liquid known as an amorphous solid.
So why is glass transparent?
This question pops up anytime I say glass is made of sand if sand is an opaque, brown substance that’s nearly impossible to see through, how did it give birth to glass?
Well that’s because when sand was super-heated and cooled down again to make glass, the whole process changed the lattice structure of the compound affecting the way light passes through it.
For you to be able to see visible light right now, a photon has to hit an atom making the electrons to achieve a higher energy level, the substance absorbs a specific band of light and scatters it, enabling it visible for you to see.
But in the case of glass it’s much different, the photons don’t have enough energy to excite the electrons so they pass through unchanged, making you see through glass easily.
Are Mirrors and Glasses the Same Thing?
This is another question I feel important to address, Are mirrors the same thing as glass?
Glass and mirrors are made of the same kind material ( silicon dioxide ) making them indistinguishable by touch, or chemical activity.
The only thing making mirrors different from glass is the fact that it reflects instead of letting light pass through it.
The reason why is that a mirror is a smooth surface, usually made of glass with reflective material painted on the underside, so as to give an image of what is in front of it
Mirrors are usually made with standard flat glass sheets, sometimes called float glass, but this can also be used to make windows.
Laminated glass consists of two or three layers of glass bound with resin or Polyvinyl Butyral. If the glass is broken, the resin keeps it in place.
If you have any questions on the topic you can let me know in comment section.