One of the most common and most-asked questions in the glassmaking industry is this: what is soda-lime glass? Why is it deemed as a specialized type of glass? Where and how is it used by companies and businesses? What makes it different from the usual kind or type of glass that’s manufactured?
There are many avenues and points of discussion for soda-lime glass, and it’s acceptable. Because not a lot of people know what it is, we’ll help you figure out the ins and outs of soda-lime glass, as well as how you can take advantage of it for your business.
What is a Soda-Lime Glass?
Figure 1: An image of a round-shaped, thick, soda-lime glass for laboratory purposes
Soda-lime glass is a common type of glass composed of three primary ingredients: silica (sand), soda (sodium carbonate), and lime (calcium oxide)–we’ll get to more of that below.
Known in the industry as the most prevalent form of glass used in the manufacturing of everyday items, including windows, bottles, containers, and tableware, its simplicity allows it to be flexible enough to be good for a number of applications and uses.
Why is it Called Soda-Lime Glass?
Figure 2: An image of silica or silicon dioxide, which is a primary component of soda-lime glass
Everyone who finds out about soda-lime glass always asks, why is it called that way? Is it because they’re the most common glass type used in bottles? No, that’s not the reason.
Its name reflects the key components used in its production: soda (sodium carbonate) acts as a flux to lower the melting point of silica, while lime (calcium oxide) stabilizes the chemical composition and durability of the glass.
What Makes Up Soda-Lime Glass?
As mentioned above, the primary composition of soda-lime glass are silica, soda, and lime. However, it misses out one of the most helpful articles that make it different from other glass types – broken glass shards.
Silica, which is commonly derived from sand, is the principal component of soda-lime glass, making up the bulk of its composition. It offers transparency and acts as the structural underpinning for the glass.
Sodium Carbonate (Soda)
Also known by the name soda, serves as a flux in the glass-making operation. It is the ingredient responsible for the lowering of the melting point of silica, which, in turn, makes it simpler to shape, form, and customize.
Calcium Oxide (Lime)
Out of all these three, lime (calcium oxide) is the one that helps increase the durability and resilience of the glass to environmental influences. Fun fact, lime is also one of the primary ingredients needed to make cement and high-grade steel.
Last but most definitely not least are the glass shards. During the melting process, glass shards are added to increase the volume of the results. Since they contain silica and calcium oxide, they also help in the strengthening of the final product.
Can You Distinguish Soda-Lime Glass?
Figure 3: An image of a borosilicate glass product formed into a mug or a drinking cup
Most experts would say that this is a myth, but according to research and proven results, it is possible. There are many different tests you can do to identify which soda-lime glass, but the easiest way to tell and increase your chances of early identification would be by looking at it.
For beakers, pitchers, and other similar materials, start by looking at the body of the glass. Move your eyes away from the body to the edge, and notice its color. Borosilicate glass is mostly transparent, and, therefore, would remain colorless even on the edges.
On the contrary, soda-lime glass would have a bluish-green accent on the edges. This adaptation in color is one of the main side effects of having iron oxide, which is responsible for making sure that it is protected from harsh, light-induced damages.
Diving deep into it, you can identify them through different tests, which include:
- Testing the chemical structure and composition
- Drop and pressure tests
- Acid reactivity tests
What is Type 3 Soda-Lime Glass?
Figure 4: An example of two type III soda-lime glass bottles for the pharmaceutical industry
Type 3 soda-lime glass is actually the standard soda-lime glass you know. It’s made up of alkali metal oxides and is surprisingly chemically-stable.
Beverages, meals, and medicinal preparations are all regularly made with Type III glass–it’s container.
Due to the fact that the autoclaving procedure accelerates the glass corrosion reaction, type III glass is not suited for sterilized items. Type III containers are normally not affected by dry heat sterilizing procedures.
Does Soda-Lime Glass Contain Lead?
No, it does not. Soda-lime glass, well, all glass types, in this regard, don’t contain lead. In fact, soda-lime glass is made up of three primary ingredients, including soda ash, lime, and sand. Glass shards are added to the mixture for better, more volumized, and subtly more resistant against basic damage.
Soda-lime glass does not contain lead. However, there are certain glass types that do – check this video out to find out more about them!
Soda-Lime Glass vs. Borosilicate Glass
Many people are still confused about how different borosilicate glass is from soda-lime glass. So, we created a table that would help you understand each and both of them further:
Factor or Property
Made up of Silica, boron oxide, and alumina (aluminum oxide).
Mainly comprised of silica, soda, and lime.
Usually more expensive and costlier due to its specialized composition.
Typically, more cost-effective because raw materials are cheap and abundant
Durability and Strength
Brittle and relatively strong. Has the chance to shatter upon impact.
Strong, durable, and resilient – it can withstand chemical, mechanical, and thermal stress better.
Excellent optical clarity, perfect for optics.
Great level of optical clarity, mediocre excellence.
Used for applications that require heavy stress, high-temperature, and other similar situations.
Used for everyday items that can easily be replaced like windows, glasses, cups, glassware, etc.
Borosilicate glass is ideally better, stronger, more durable, and contains more features than soda-lime glass. However, the latter is the component used for many different situations and applications.
Here’s a video that outlines the differences between them!
What Are the Applications of Soda-Lime Glass?
Figure 5: Soda-lime glass products have various applications
Soda-lime glass units are used in a wide range of applications. Because of their cheap and affordable prices, they are often aligned with products and materials that can easily be replaced. Among the thousands of uses of soda-lime glass, the following remains the most important and the best:
- Glass bottles
- Consumer glass products
- Packaging and manufacturing
- Windows and windowpanes
- Glass containers
- And many more!
You can think of soda-lime glass as the most basic form of glass. It doesn’t contain mechanical and chemical greatness, but it’s able to withstand pressure and force, which are already great in the glassmaking industry.
Pros and Cons of Soda-Lime Glass
Keeping score of what soda-lime glass products can do for you, as well as the negatives that come with it can help you identify if it is the glass you want to use for your application.
Below is a list of the pros and cons of soda-lime glass that you ought to be aware of to add to your overall knowledge, as well as help you distinguish compatibility.
Pros of Soda-Lime Glass
Here’s a list of the top advantages and pros of using soda-lime glass:
- Affordability and Price: It is a low-cost glass solution that is readily available because to the accessibility of raw ingredients such as silica, soda, and lime.
- Neutralization with Chemicals: Soda-lime glass is a chemically stable material. It will resist standard reactions with many different substances, making it ideal for preserving and packaging food and drinks.
- Manufacturing Flexibility: Soda-lime glass is relatively straightforward to create and shape, which contributes to its broad application in a variety of sectors.
- Recyclability: Soda-lime glass is recyclable. You can melt down and reuse them to produce new items, too, lowering environmental effect and carbon footprint.
- Transparency: Because soda-lime glass has exceptional optical clarity, it is appropriate for applications requiring visibility or transparency, such as windows and glassware.
Cons of Soda-Lime Glass
Let us now discuss and go through some of the cons or drawbacks of using soda-lime glass:
- Thermal Stress Sensitivity: Sudden temperature changes and variations can lead to thermal stress, resulting in breaking, cracking, or being damaged entirely.
- Low Thermal Insulation: Soda-lime glass is not a very effective thermal insulator. It doesn’t provide great insulation against temperature changes and variations altogether.
- Limited Heat Resistance: They’re typically less resistant to high temperatures than other varieties of glass, which limits its usage in applications such as bakeware, cookware, and laboratory glassware.
- Brittleness and Weakness: Soda-lime glass is somewhat fragile and can shatter upon impact, making it unsuitable for high-durability purposes, especially those that require resistance.
- Color/Tint: Because of impurities in the raw ingredients, some soda-lime glass may have a little greenish tint, which might impair its visual appeal.
What to Consider in Choosing Soda-Lime Glass
Not all soda-lime glass units are created equally. Some are manufactured with better and more accuracy and precision than most. Before you ink a deal with a manufacturer or supplier, it’s important that you understand the considerations of choosing soda-lime glass first. These are:
Manufacturer or Supplier
The first consideration you want to look at would be the manufacturer or supplier. Is your manufacturer certified? How experienced is your manufacturer’s team in producing soda-lime glass? Do they have the right tools and machines? How do they manufacture or produce their soda-lime glass?
Understanding your supplier’s capabilities is one way of ensuring that you will be getting only the best and highest quality of finished soda-lime glass products.
Some manufacturers have size limits because of the manufacturing plant or the area they operate in. You’ll want to choose the supplier that can give you flexible sizes of soda-lime glass for you to make minor adjustments when needed.
Last but most definitely not least is to choose a manufacturer that has considerate lead times. Working with a manufacturer with less flexible lead times often result in rushed work, which is bad for your business because it will be low quality.
You want to check each manufacturer’s lead time first before you sign or agree to anything. Aim for a lead time that won’t exceed 2 months for you to get the ball rolling as fast as you can.
Where to Buy High-Quality Soda-Lime Glass
You will never run out of options of where you can buy high-quality soda-lime glass in the world. Every day, more and more manufacturers are being created and born, the same way how older manufacturers take the hit.
If you want a sure and steady flow of supplies where you’re sure of in terms of material, going with a European or an American manufacturer is your best bet. The only problem with them is their prices – they can be extremely expensive.
Asia, China, to be more specific, has been seen as the world’s manufacturing hub. This is because many products around the globe area created and manufactured in China. Businesses and organizations abroad outsource to China because of cheap labor, cheap cost of overhead expenses, and so on.
Out of all Asian suppliers, Chinese manufacturers would be your best option, in that regard. Most are cheap and affordable, and if you find the right company, you’ll see Western-quality make and materials, like with us here at GLASHern.
At GLASHern, we make your dreams a reality by producing customized glasswork that are perfect for your needs. You can order small or big, depending on what you’re looking for! Send us a sketch or a sample and we’ll be more than happy to help you!
Why Work With GLASHern For Your Soda-Lime Glass?
GLASHern is China’s leading glassmaker for borosilicate glass and soda-lime glass. Most companies we’ve worked with in the West (Americas and Europe) keep on coming back to us because of the cheap and affordable prices we offer, as well as the overall quality of our work.
We are equipped with a team that’s able to handle many different concerns and requests, particularly in the art of glassmaking.
Besides our experience, skillset, knowledge, and expertise, you can trust us due to the large number of significant certifications we have acquired through years of practicing and being indulged in the business of glass development and glassmaking.
For years, soda-lime glass has been one of the most popular and most-sought-after glass types in the market, ranging from simple and menial applications, such as glass bottles and bulbs, to high-grade window panes, vases, windshields, etc.
If you are thinking about finding the best soda-lime glass manufacturer that is the best bang for your buck, GLASHern is here! We can get you whatever customization you need on your soda-lime glass, whatever strengthening and capabilities you need for it, too.
Our team here at GLASHern are glassmaking experts and engineers with 50+ years of combined experience, ready to assist you with what you’re looking for!
Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you find yourself in need of an experienced, reliable, and trustworthy soda-lime glass supplier!