Sea Glass, also known as beach glass or mermaid tears, is a shard of glass that can be found on just about any coast in the world. The pieces of glass have been smoothed and frosted by years of being tossed and tumbled by the waves of the ocean.
It is most commonly found in pastel shades of blue, green, brown, and white, but you can also find more rare colors such as reds, darker blues, purples, and oranges. Human civilizations began using glass around 3500 B.C., most early civilizations settled near large bodies of water, and when it was discarded it often found its way into oceans. So often it is most often found near areas where large populations dwell.
WHERE TO FIND IT:
There are some beaches that are known for sea glass, the most popular is Fort Bragg, California, which was previously a dumpsite where glass was left in abundance. Another popular place is Kauai Island in Hawaii, where glass gets trapped in between lava rocks and makes it way to the shore.
There are also several areas of both North and South Carolina that offer a plethora of sea glass in a wide array of colors. The Brunswick Islands, located just south of several industrial shipping ports and shipping offsets, produce a variety of glass. It is often easier to find on more secluded parts of theses beaches and in coves and inlets, which help trap the glass.
In recent years, sea glass has become harder to find as people have started recycling and beaches are putting greater efforts into keeping their shores clean. Also, the increased use of plastic bottles as opposed to glass has contributed to the decrease in sea glass.
Before the 1960s most household products and foods were packaged in glass or tin, although in coastal areas tin would rust. Green glass often came from beer, wine, or soda bottles; Brown glass is now from beer bottles, but also Clorox and other household cleaners were packaged in brown glass years ago. White sea glass often comes from soda bottles or window panes.
You can guess the age of white sea glass by looking for a tint, a light purple shade will be more recent as manganese is added to glass and turns purple with sun exposure, a green shade indicates that the glass is much older.
Light blue or orange are the rarest colors to find since those colors were not commonly produced to market goods. If you located a piece of aqua-colored sea glass, it is most likely from a Coca-Cola bottle, which used silica. Cobalt blue colors are often from old medicine bottles or poisons.
A piece of red sea glass, is an incredibly rare find. There are only a few producers of red glass, including Anchor for vases or kitchenware, Avon, and Schlitz beer. Orange can be attributed to boat warning lights or traffic warning lights, but not much else.
The Ultimate Guide to Sea Glass: Finding, Collecting, Identifying, and Using the Ocean’s Most Beautiful Stones
As the owner of one of the world’s most elaborate sea glass collections, Mary Beth Beuke gets to talk about these prized ocean gems on a daily basis. Unfortunately, with each passing day, sea glass becomes more and more difficult to find, making the hunt more of a challenge to the seeker–especially one with limited experience in sea glass hunting.
There are several reasons why the hunt is so important to the sea glass seeker. Some find their Zen moments in the solitude and beauty of the hunt. Some collect to add color to their life. The history, mystery, and discovery of sea glass are also strong forces that draw collectors to shorelines around the world, looking for these pieces of physically and chemically weathered frosted glass.
Whatever your reason for wanting to learn about and start your own collection of sea glass, the window for doing so is closing as pieces are becoming more elusive due to a growth in sea glass popularity and a decrease in recent glass bottle production.
In The Ultimate Guide to Sea Glass, Beuke provides information that will help first-time seekers start new collections and veteran hunters learn more about their current sets. Beuke shares her experiences in gathering her own collection via photographs of vibrant and rare pieces, as well.
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TIPS FOR FINDING SEA GLASS:
If you are looking to comb the beaches for sea glass, the best time to do so is an hour before the tide goes out. Also, storms have a tendency to bring up glass out of the ocean so after a large storm is a good time to look along the shores.
You should also look in the areas of wet, damp sand or where the wet sand meets the dry sand. Sea glass is easier to see when it is sunny, because the light will reflect off pieces, so choose a bright day. Walk slowly and closely scan the shore, so you don’t miss any.
HOW TO USE YOUR SEA GLASS:
Sea glass can be used in jewelry, mosaics, wind chimes, decorations on frames or bookshelves, or just stored in a mason jar.
Here are a few ideas we’ve found:
But any use of sea glass will remind you of the tremendous power and history of our oceans.
So get out there are find some sea glass treasures!
If you can’t find any out there, you can purchase locally found and made Sea Glass Jewelry from Islands Art & Bookstore:
Article Information from MadebyMeg.net and South Brunswick Magazine. Images from Pinterest.