There are very few materials in the world that can claim the longevity of glass. With relics having been found recently by archaeologists that date back to 4000 BC, it’s mind-blowing to think that such a fragile resource has been put to good use for as long as it has. Back then people would have smelted glass in furnaces made using firewood and vents, but modern day man now has access to a vast range of tools and facilities to take care of the hard work with relative ease.
How Are Glass Particles Extracted Nowadays?
These days a good glazier will tell you that the best type of glass is made from silica – a transparent substance present within particles of sand. The more transparent the particles are, the better the final window will look. By super-heating these components it can be fairly straight forward to collect the highest quality parts and getting rid of the excess. But that doesn’t explain how the particles are extracted from the sand itself.
The first thing to consider is that modern day glass – the likes of which features within glass windows, is often heat treated and tempered in much the same way as metals such as steel. Back in the day glass was a lot more fragile, but thanks to the tempering process it can be possible to achieve a more pliable panel. In order to do so, silica is first collected from sand that can be found at beaches, in fact any sand that can be found by water can be used to make glass.
In order to create the transparent panels that modern homes get to enjoy, the silica needs to be mixed with limestone, chemicals and soda ash – which acts as a binding agent. Whilst in liquid form, the sand is still ductile and can be shaped, bent, or blown to suit the needs of the manufacturer. Once dried however, it can be all but impossible to melt the glass back down to its constituent parts and separate the individual ingredients.
When fitted within window frames and door panels, a good glass repair expert should be able to rectify any damage using adhesives – so these days it can be possible to keep windows going for years without the need for a replacement.