The Chemistry of Colored Glass

By Andy Brunning

Glass is colored in 3 main ways. It can have transition or rare earth metal ions added; it can be due to colloidal particles formed in the glass; or it can be due to particles which are colored themselves. This graphic shows some of the typical chemical elements that are used to color glass.

These are typical colors, and can be affected by the type of glass as well as the concentration of the colorant. Combination with other elements and compounds can also have an effect on the final coloration of the glass.

chart of glass colors

Soda-Lime Glass Composition


Soda-lime glass is the most common glass type, making up an estimated 90% of all manufactured glass. Its uses include containers, windows, bottles, and drinking glasses. The above percentages are a general composition only; other compounds are also present in smaller amounts.

This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine July/August 2020 issue.

Watch videos about all the colors of sea and beach glass

Learn more about sea and beach glass colors:

where does sea glass get its color

Images © Compund Interest. All rights reserved. Learn more about Andy Brunning from Compound Interest at and @compoundchem. All rights reserved.

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