How is Glass Made? - Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Shoshana Yarin

Shoshana has taught all grades with an emphasis in science and has a master's degree in science.

Glass is a unique substance that makes up materials all around us. It is very useful because of all its special properties. Learn about glass and how it is made in this lesson.

What Is Glass?

Glass is made from sand. Yes, that's right - the same sand that you could find at the beach or in the desert. Of course, you have to melt it first.

Think of how sand is like sugar. They are both made up of small grains that look like tiny crystals. If you put sugar in a pan and melt it on the stove, it changes from a solid into a liquid. When it cools and turns back into a solid, it's still sugar but it's in a different form. Now, it's like a hard candy. Melted sugar has something else in common with glass because sometimes it can be transparent, or see-through.

How is Glass Made?

Sand is a little different from sugar. Sand is made of silicon dioxide that forms a crystalline structure. It takes a much hotter temperature to melt sand, too. While sugar melts at a temperature a little higher than 300 degrees Fahrenheit, sand must be heated to more than 3000 degrees Fahrenheit in order to melt. Once it is molten or melted, it can be shaped or molded into all the products we know.

Glass Factory
Glass Factory

The most common glass we are familiar with contains some extra ingredients. Glass can be recycled again and again, so most glass is made with some amount of recycled glass. They also add soda ash to melt it quicker (saving energy makes good business sense). Then in order to strengthen the glass they add limestone. The final product is called soda-lime-silica glass.

Glass is an amorphous solid which means it is a solid, yet it still has some chemical features of a liquid. Most solids have a crystalline-type structure; an amorphous solid does not.

Different Types of Glass

Have you ever made candy? Melted sugar can be poured on a flat surface and allowed to cool to make hard candy. In fact, movie sets make windows out of sugar because it looks just like glass, but won't cut when it's broken!

Creative Glass
Artist Glass

Glass is similar. To make the nice flat sheets of glass that are used as windows, molten glass is poured on the surface of liquid tin and then cools into plate glass. Not all glass has to be flat, though. Melted glass can also be poured into molds shaped like drinking glasses or jars.

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