Soda lime glass vs. borosilicate glass has been one of the industry’s toughest questions. This roots from the fact that a lot of manufacturers are choosing between each of them quite frequently.
In this article, though, we will discuss both of them head-to-head and will try to unravel the mysteries and truths behind what each of them are. We will scour through the different facts and data that revolve around each of them, and we’ll do it with extreme precision and accuracy!
What is Soda-Lime Glass?
Soda-Lime glass, also commonly called soda-lime silica glass, is one of the most common types and kinds of glass used in applications that need glass. They’re typically the glass type of jars and bottles, windowpanes, as well as other uses of the same kind.
What is Soda-Lime Glass Made Of?
Many people think that soda-lime glass is made from special materials, when, in reality, it’s only made up of 3 primary components, namely:
All these three have their specific traits and characteristics, making soda-lime glass what it is today.
NOTE: Some manufacturers add in glass shards or pieces of broken glass into the molten mixture to increase the volume and to add accent to the glass being created.
What is Borosilicate Glass?
Figure 2: An image of a cylindrical pair of borosilicate glasses
Borosilicate glass is a kind of glass whose major glass-forming ingredients are silica, alumina (aluminum oxide) and boron oxide. These glasses have exceptionally low coefficients of thermal expansion (5 106/ °C at 20 °C), making them more resistant to thermal shock than any other common types of glass.
In other words, borosilicate glass products are extremely beneficial in applications that require strong bonds and resilience, resulting in the formation of a highly-strengthened glass that does not shatter.
What is Borosilicate Glass Made Of?
As we mentioned above, borosilicate glass is a glass type that’s comprised of a few primary ingredients, namely: alumina or aluminum oxide, boron oxide, silica, and about 15 percent boron trioxide. The boron trioxide ingredient is the primary ingredient responsible for the thermal shock resistance of borosilicate glass.
Is Soda-Lime Glass Better Than Borosilicate Glass?
Figure 3: An image of borosilicate glass tube bottles in different sizes
Yes and no, let me explain.
Comparing soda-lime glass and borosilicate glass is not aligned enough to go toe-to-toe with each other. For one, both these materials are used for varying applications–using them for whatever the other glass type’s purpose is wrong.
Another is because they’re not the same type of glass and they are typically made independently. The components of borosilicate glass aren’t the same with soda-lime glass. They are chemically and mechanically different.
So, to answer the question – yes, soda-lime glass is better than borosilicate glass in some aspects like price, availability, and ease of acquisition. But the answer is no because physically, chemically, and mechanically, borosilicate glass units are far more superior than soda-lime glass, but they’re too expensive and takes too long to manufacture.
If you want more clarity, check this video out!
Is Soda-Lime Glass Safe?
Figure 4: Soda-lime glass products can crack, be scratched, and break in extreme forces and pressures
Yes, soda-lime glass is safe and just by looking at the chemical composition, there’s zero non-toxic ingredients or materials in it.
Soda-lime glass is deemed both virtually and functionally safe by protocols and authorities, marking it as a food-grade safe material.
Here’s a video that discusses the manufacturing process of glass bottles.
Soda-Lime Glass vs. Borosilicate Glass: The Truth Revealed
So how are they different? Besides being different in nature, there are other subtle and obvious differences between borosilicate and soda-lime glass items. In order to understand this further, let’s break it down by discussing each of them first, and then cross-checking each of them.
Characteristic or Property
Price and Cost
Cheaper and more affordable because they are easier to get and produce.
More expensive because of the specialization of the product and its overall characteristics.
Mainly silica, soda, and lime.
Silica and boron trioxide.
Optical Clarity Level
Medium-to-good optical clarity.
Excellent optical clarity levels.
Highly recyclable to whatever shape, form, or size it needs to be.
Needs to be reprocessed due to the boron content of the glass unit.
Limited heat resistance; sensitive to thermal stress.
Exceptional heat resistance; less sensitive to thermal stress.
Strength and Durability
Brittle and weak, can possibly shatter upon impact.
More durable and can withstand mechanical, chemical, and thermal stress better.
Applications and Uses
Used for daily applications.
Preferred for laboratory glassware, cookware, and high-temperature applications.
All those are important, yes, but knowing and understanding the properties involved for each of them puts you at a higher level than your competitors. Here are some of the most important properties for borosilicate and soda-lime glass units!
Soda-Lime Glass Properties
Other than knowing how it compares with borosilicate glass, it’s also imperative to know and understand its properties separately and independently. Let us dig deep on the different properties of soda-lime glass for us to gain further understanding of it.
- Glass Type: Soda-lime glass is a type of float glass or the standard glass we use without any strengthening or developing.
- Chemical Composition:
- Silica (silicon dioxide) – 70 percent
- Soda (sodium dioxide) 15 percent
- Lime (calcium oxide) – 9 percent
- Trace elements, glass shards, etc. – 6 percent
- Temperature Resistance:
- Softening point: 726 °C
- Melting point: – 1,000 °C
- Annealing point: 546 °C
- Strain point: 514 °C
- Thermal Expansion: 8.6 x 10-6 °C
- Chemical Resistance: Class 3 hydrolytic resistance
- Thermal Shock Resistance: Vulnerable; abrupt temperature changes can shatter soda-lime glass
Borosilicate Glass Properties
Let us now jump into the properties of borosilicate glass and learn about its properties so you know what you’re up against!
- Glass Type: Borosilicate glass is a type of glass with silica and boron trioxide
- Chemical Composition:
- Silica (silicon dioxide) – 81 percent
- Boron trioxide – 13 percent
- Aluminum oxide – Lesser concentration
- Sodium Oxide – Lesser concentration
- Temperature Resistance:
- Softening point: 815 °C
- Melting point: – 1,650 °C
- Annealing point: 565 °C
- Strain point: 515 °C
- Thermal Expansion: 3.3 x 10-6 °K
- Chemical Resistance: Non-reactive to most chemicals
- Thermal Shock Resistance: Much lower coefficient of thermal expansion than silica glass (soda-lime glass)
These are the different properties of soda-lime glass and borosilicate glass. For sure, by looking at this data, you’ll be able to improve and develop your decision-making when choosing between the two!
Advantages of Soda-Lime Glass
Looking at it, you can have a too few benefits and advantages of using soda-lime glass.
Cheapness and Affordability
Soda-lime glass’s overall affordability is a direct result of its easily available key ingredients: silica, soda, and lime. Thanks to its accessibility, it becomes cost-effective.
Ease of Manufacturing
Soda-lime glass manufacture is very simple, allowing for efficient production and adaptable shaping into a broad range of shapes. Because of its ease of manufacture, it grew as a popular material for a wide range of daily objects, from bottles and tableware to architectural glass components.
Soda-lime glass is very resistant to chemical interactions with the majority of chemicals. This feature makes it a good choice for food and beverage containers and packaging, guaranteeing that the glass does not interact with or damage the product’s quality or safety.
Soda-lime glass is an environmentally friendly material that is highly recyclable. When it is no longer required, it may be recycled by melting, resulting in an eco-friendly closed-loop system. This not only lowers waste but also saves raw resources, which is in line with ecological standards.
One of its distinguishing characteristics is its outstanding optical clarity, making it perfect for situations where transparency is critical. It’s perfect in applications where it allows for unhindered light transmission and visual access while retaining its overall solidity.
Last is its availability. Unlike other types of glass, the material components and ingredients of soda-lime glass are all easily and readily available. They aren’t sourced from specialized companies, they can even be taken from public places like the beach!
These are the pros or advantages of using soda-lime glass. Of course, these advantages tend to be on the negative side of borosilicate glass, and vice versa. Now, let’s move onto discussing the advantages of borosilicate glass or the cons of soda-lime glass!
Disadvantages of Soda-Lime Glass
Let us now go through the different cons or drawbacks of soda-lime glass, which, in this sense, is the opposite and the advantages or pros of borosilicate glass.
Brittle and Weaker
Soda-lime glass is weaker and more brittle than other types and kinds of glass. It is known to shatter upon impact, and it not recommended to be used in harsh environments and situations. They’re only great for minor and menial applications and uses.
Thermal Stress Sensitivity
Quick and rapid changes to the temperature can cause breakage, cracking, or pure damage to the glass, causing it to be deemed useless.
Heat Resistance Limits
Soda-lime glass is less resistant to high temperatures than specialist glass varieties such as borosilicate glass. As a result, it is inappropriate for applications requiring quick or intense temperature changes, such as laboratory glassware and cookware.
Low Thermal Insulation
There you have it! Those are some of the pros and cons of soda-lime glass, which gives a clearer picture of how it compares with borosilicate glass!
Tint and Color
Because of impurities in the raw ingredients, most soda-lime glass products may have a minor greenish tinge, altering their visual appearance and appropriateness for certain optical applications.
What do you think of the pros and cons of soda-lime glass? Are they worth your buck? Or would your projects be better off with other glass materials instead?
Can Soda-Lime Glass Break?
Yes, soda-lime glass can break. It is, in fact, one of the biggest issues it faces in comparison to other glass types. It’s not as strong as the others due to its composition, as well as the way it changes and gets exposed.
If they were to be exposed to rapid changes in the temperature, highly-fluctuating heat, and harsh chemicals, they’ll be cracked, hued, or damaged, and can even shatter into a million pieces.
Is Borosilicate Glass Stronger Than Soda-Lime Glass?
Yes, it is stronger physically, chemically, and mechanically–let’s not forget, in terms of hardness, too. In the Mohs hardness scale, borosilicate glass is rated to be at a 7.5 scale, while soda-lime glass (and other more common and weaker glass types) are rated to be at 6.
Don’t confuse yourself, though. Just because borosilicate glass is stronger, it doesn’t mean that they don’t break anymore. They will still break, given extreme forces, pressures, and temperatures.
Is Pyrex Borosilicate Glass or Soda-Lime Glass?
Figure 5: An image of a borosilicate glass cup in the form of Pyrex (a borosilicate brand)
Pyrex is a type of borosilicate glass that’s different from other glass types because of its unique properties through the branding. The brand, Pyrex, concocted a formula that made it highly resistant to chemical exposure, thermal shock, and thermal expansion.
This is the primary reason why Pyrex is the material of choice in most laboratories and other similar applications.
Are Borosilicate Products Safe and Healthy to Use?
Yes, 100%. Many people have the misconception that borosilicate glass is unhealthy due to how strong and chemically-resistant it is, when, in fact, it’s the other way around. Because of the fact that it contains boron, and not lead or cadmium, it is 100% safe.
Why is boron safe, you may ask? Well, boron acts as a natural shield against any chemical leakage that could be coming from within or from outside the glass that could be mixed with whatever the contents are. So, if there’s boron, there’s absolutely safety and security.
Where Can You Get High-Quality Soda-Lime Glass?
In today’s time, it’s getting harder and more challenging to get premium-quality soda-lime glass products, no matter the size, shape, or form. It’s due to multiple reasons, but the most common ones remain to be quality raw materials and lead time.
If you are looking for a way to work around this and you want to get the excellent-quality soda-lime glass, you would need to invest tens of thousands of dollars with risk involved. But here at GLASHern, we can get you the soda-lime glass products you need without you being scared of investing.
You see, for more than 10 years, we have been in the process of producing different types and kinds of glass units for our clients. Whether they need standard-size soda-lime glass.
GLASHern has been one of the best and leading glass manufacturing and glassmaking companies since the late 2000s. Up until today, our business has been focused on research and development, premium innovation, and production of rare, world-class quality glass products.
Hundreds of private organizations look up to us as their go-to for whatever glass they need. Whether they need a good amount of soda-lime glass, borosilicate glass, quartz glass, optical mirrors, or any other glass for that matter, we can help you!
Our team here at GLASHern is more than happy and willing to help you with everything you need, from high-quality custom glass products to various glassmaking capabilities! Contact us and get a free quotation of whatever product or service you need!