Glass is a pretty impressive material, when you think about it.
This see through substance has been used to create several objects that we use in our day-to-day lives: of course, we know that windows are made of glass, but it is also used to make up parts of an oven, microwave, drinking glasses, mirrors, pitchers, light bulbs, vases, so many kinds of decorations and ornaments, and many, many other household items that we use every day.
It can be a strong substance in certain forms, but as we know, it can also be extremely fragile and easily broken.
Glass is one of the oldest, most adaptable man-made materials to ever exist, and despite us often taking it for granted, it would be fairly difficult to live without it due to it being used to create so many items that we use all the time.
If you have clicked on this article, there may be a particular question on your mind: along with its other qualities, can glass catch on fire?
We are already aware of how fragile the material is when faced with several other factors, but how would it react and adapt in the face of flames?
If you have never had the opportunity to light glass on fire - which, to be fair, we wouldn’t be surprised if you haven’t - continue reading this article to discover what results would take place.
So, let’s get into it. Read on to find out whether or not glass is flammable.
What is Glass?
So, let’s start at the very beginning… a very good place to start, some may say.
It is pretty strange to think about the fact that glass is made from sand. Of course, it’s not the sort of sand that you would find on a beach: glass is usually made out of liquid sand, although it is possible to use normal sand if it was melted down completely into a liquid.
When sand is melted, it goes through a complete transformation and no longer remains the golden color that it once was. The structure becomes completely different, and once it has completely melted and become transparent, it can then be used to create glass.
There are many different types of glass, and they are all used for different purposes.
- Flat glass is the typical kind of glass that we see used on a daily basis: this material is used to create windows, windscreens, and electrical appliances such as phones and computers.
- Toughened glass is a lot more durable than flat glass, and is used for shower doors, shelves, and other items that need to be a lot stronger in order to protect or hold objects.
- Laminated glass, also known as shatter-proof glass, is mainly used for security purposes, for scenarios in which certain items need to be fully protected. Laminated glass is used for store windows and front doors.
- Tinted glass can only be seen through one-way, so it is perfect for people who live on the first floor of a building and don’t want strangers looking in.
- Patterned glass is exactly what it sounds like: it is a sheet of glass with a pattern imprinted onto it. This is often used on bathroom windows, or windows in other rooms in which sunlight is needed, but the glass isn’t completely see through.
- Mirrored glass is, as you may have guessed, the type of glass that is used to create mirrors. It is reflective instead of transparent.
These are just some of the types of glass that exist, but they are the ones that are the most commonly used.
How Is Glass Made?
As we mentioned in the last section, glass is created by melting grains of sand until they form a liquid rather than a solid. Other ingredients are needed during this process to ensure that the resulting liquid is the perfect consistency and form.
The sand is liquidised in a furnace at an extremely high temperature. Once it has fully melted, it is placed into a separate container called a float bath.
After the liquid has been in there a while, it will have cooled down considerably: the liquid enters the float bath at around 1500°C, and by the time the process is finished, it will have cooled down to around 650°C. It must cool fairly quickly in order for the product to become perfect glass.
Then, the liquid is poured into molds to create glass items, whatever they may be. This is the process for flat glass, and therefore other methods would need to be used in order to create other kinds of glass, but the overall process is roughly the same.
The sand is melted, cooled, and poured.
The actual process is much more complicated than what we previously explained, of course, but this is just putting it into layman’s terms. If you’re looking to make your own glass at home, it is suggested that you look for professional help to guide you through this process.
It is not as easy to do as it sounds.
Is Glass Flammable?
So, now we return to the original question. Is glass flammable? If you set a flame onto it, will it burn or melt?
First of all, let’s look at whether sand is flammable or not, seeing as this is essentially all that glass is: melted sand.
Sand is simply small pieces of rocks and minerals that have been worn down over hundreds and thousands of years, broken down by the sea, wind, gravity, and other natural forces at play.
Depending on where the sand is in the world, it may be mixed with other materials, but overall it is simply tiny, tiny pieces of the earth that have been broken down into fine, miniscule pieces.
Sand is not flammable. This is because it is made up of fully oxidized silicon, so oxygen is unable to react to it. If you were to attempt to light a beach on fire, you would be unable to do so without using other products to assist you.
Therefore, sand itself will not burn. It can, of course, melt, and this will turn the product into glass, but it cannot catch fire.
So, using this information, we can pretty much guess what the answer is going to be when asking the same question about glass.
No, glass is not flammable, either! If a piece of glass is burned, it will leave a dark, black stain along its surface which can be easily wiped away once it has cooled down: you will have probably seen evidence of this if you have ever seen the aftermath of a house fire.
Depending on the type of glass, it may crack and smash due to the heat, but it cannot catch on fire.
Therefore, the answer is no: glass is not flammable.