From stained glass windows to jewelry, glass has been used to create works of art for thousands of years. Today we're taking a look at a special type of glass that many people collect and use to make jewelry and works of art.

So what’s so special about sea glass? Would you believe the ocean recycles our trash into something beautiful? It’s true!

Sea glass can be found on beaches along oceans, seas, bays and even large rivers and lakes. These beautiful, frosted, smooth pieces of glass go by many names, including "sea gems," "beach jewels," "mermaid’s tears" and "sea pearls."

Sea glass consists of pieces of glass that have been smoothed over time by the tumbling action of water, waves and sand.

As pieces of glass soak in salt water and get tossed against the sand by the waves for anywhere from 5 to 50 years, all the sharp edges and corners become smooth. The pieces of glass also take on a frosted look due to the way the sand etches the surface of the glass.

Sea glass starts out as trash glass from sources like bottles, jars, glasses, plates, windows, windshields or ceramics. Unfortunately, the world’s oceans end up being a dumping place for all sorts of trash, whether from ships or from those who live near the sea.

Luckily, when it comes to glass, the sea does a great job of recycling pieces of glass into treasures for people to find along beaches. In fact, searching for sea glass is a popular hobby for thousands of people.

Some people collect pieces of sea glass in large jars. Others collect the pieces and turn them into beautiful pieces of jewelry or art.

Many people who collect sea glass also enjoy trying to figure out the history behind each piece of sea glass. One way to figure out what type of bottle a particular piece of sea glass came from is to examine its color.

The most common colors of sea glass are green, brown, blue and clear. These colors tend to come from bottles of popular drinks, such as sodas and juices.

The rarest colors tend to be gray, pink, black, yellow, turquoise, red and orange. These colors come from rare items, such as old plates, wine bottles and boat lights.

Although sea glass can be found all over the world, certain areas are known for their sea glass. These areas include the beaches of the northeast United States, California, northwest England, Mexico, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Australia and Italy.

Sea glass can also be found on beaches that border large lakes, such as the Great Lakes. Since these bodies of freshwater have fewer waves, the sea glass they create looks different than that from oceans.

It’s usually less weathered and may even still have some shiny spots. Some people call this “beach glass” to distinguish it from true sea glass.

Today, sea glass can be harder to find than it was in the past. Not only are more people searching for it and collecting it, but many glass items have been replaced by plastic.

Fortunately, there also appears to be less littering today than there was in the past. The increasing scarcity of sea glass has led some people to try to create their own homemade sea glass.

Using different types of glass in a rock tumbler, some people are able to create inexpensive versions of their own homemade sea glass. Unfortunately, true sea glass with its smooth, frosted appearance just can’t be duplicated by such artificial means.

 

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