Common minerals found in glass include feldspar, lithium, quartz and sodium carbonate. Quartz is also known as silica, though that substance is also found in other minerals. Sodium carbonate is also called soda ash or trona.
Feldspar is an abundant mineral that is used as a flux in glass production. It lowers the melting temperature of the glass. It is composed of aluminum and silica and is mined near granite quarries and from beaches that have a high percentage of feldspar sand.
Lithium is most often associated with batteries and computer components, but it is also used in glass and ceramic production. The mineral is found in crystals such as spodumene or petalite, but is most often mined from subsurface brines. These are water deposits that are saltier than seawater. Mining these waters is less expensive than rock mining.
Quartz sand is used to make container glass, pane glass, specialty glass and fiberglass. The sand is produced by the erosion of quartz crystals, which are known for their hardness and resistance to heat. Quartz sand is also used as an abrasive in sandblasting, for foundry work and for hydraulic fracking in the oil industry. Larger crystals are used in watch making and are cut into gemstones.
Sodium carbonate is used in the same types of glass as the more common quartz. In the United States, it is found mostly in Wyoming. Other uses include control of water pH, as a food additive and in medicines.