What Are the Elements That Make Glass?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Mar 25, 2020 9:58:34 AM ET

The primary element in glass is silica, or silicon oxide (SiO2). However, on its own silica can be difficult to work with since it has an incredibly high melting point of more than 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit and is extremely viscous, which makes it challenging to mold.

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Because of the challenges involved with pure silica glass-making, there are a few other elements that are commonly mixed into the silica blend to make it melt more quickly and easier to mold. These elements include:

  • Sodium (Na) as sodium oxide (Na2O)
  • Calcium (Ca) as calcium oxide (CaO)
  • Lead (Pb) as lead oxide (PbO)
  • Potassium (K) as potassium oxide (K2O)

Additionally, there are elements that can be added to make the glass different colors. These include:

  • Iron (Fe) to color red
  • Copper (Cu) to color light blue
  • Manganese (Mn) to color purple
  • Cobalt (Cu) to color dark blue
  • Gold (Au) to color deep red