Not all glass is created equal. Most glass in the world is made of the same basic components: silica, soda ash, and lime. However, when the proportions are varied, you get different products that are suitable for different purposes.
At its core, glass is liquid sand. In commercial glass plants, recycled glass is mixed with sand, limestone, and soda ash at high heat to create a liquid product that can be poured into molds to be shaped into its final product – whether that be bottles, glasses, or windows.
Adding additional materials to this mixture creates glass with alternative functions. For example, adding lead oxide creates a crystal glass that’s easier to cut, and stained glass is colored by adding metallic compounds to molten glass.
Most glass items are made from what’s referred to as soda-lime glass. In fact, about 90% of the glass used today is made with this type of glass. Soda-lime glass has a lower proportion of silica and boron in it than borosilicate glass.
Everyday items like kitchen glasses, windows, and vases are made with this type of glass. It’s relatively durable, but only in normal temperature ranges. Soda-lime glass is also likely to break when dropped or struck. When it does break, it shatters into many tiny and very sharp pieces.
Borosilicate glass has a higher percentage of silica (silicone dioxide) than your everyday glass. Plus, boron trioxide is added at a high ratio – usually about fifteen percent.
The boron makes it so that the glass doesn’t expand as fast when exposed to drastic changes in temperature. This enables the glass to not shatter under extreme temperatures like regular glass does. A higher proportion of silicone dioxide further increases its ability to resist fracturing.
While it can still break when dropped, it’s much more durable than soda-lime glass. Even if it does break, it’s shatterproof, so it will break into a few large pieces rather than create a hazardous situation.
Boron and silica are completely safe and nontoxic ingredients. Additionally, the boron content makes glass less soluble. Therefore, it prevents other materials from leaching into the glass, making it a very safe choice to drink from.
Because of its resistance to thermal shock, borosilicate glass is often used in settings that require high heat or extreme temperature fluctuations. In fact, its maximum thermal shock range is about 340 degrees fahrenheit.
This makes it great for laboratories, ovenware and other kitchen and cooking applications, industrial settings, and chemistry labs.
We chose to use borosilicate glass for our reusable glass straws because of its durability. We love that our straws are tough to break and that they won’t shatter. This makes them safer for use in your home. It’s also a great eco-friendly and nontoxic material to enjoy your favorite beverage with!