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What is Sea Glass and where can you find it?


Have you ever seen smooth, frosted, and small pieces of glass on the beachside? Well, these are pieces sea glass. Sea glass or sometimes also called beach glass is small pieces of glass that have been weathered due to being exposed to the coastal environment. Man-made glass pieces that are left on ocean banks and beaches are converted into sea glass in the presence of the waves and coastal breezes. The constant presence of water and humid air for an extended time leads to changes in both the physical and chemical properties of the glass. As a result, you find these translucent and colorful pieces along seas, bays, and oceans.


Sea Glass and Beach glass are often used as interchangeable terms for describing these small pieces of glass however, these are not the same. Sea glass, as the name suggests, is produced by saline waters. Therefore, sea glass is a product of weathering, erosion as well as the chemical reaction of salts dissolved in seawater. Beach glass on the other hand is found near freshwater sources. Although with similar properties, beach glass has a less frosted appearance and has a different pH level when compared to sea glass. But, due to their not-so-distinct appearance sea glass and beach glass are considered to be the same. Hence, the terms sea glass and beach glass are used interchangeably to describe them.


Where did Sea glass come from?

During the late 20th century glass was an important material. It was used to make jars, bottles, pots, and many other things. Everyone carried these items or at least something made of glass. As beach culture became popular and more and more people started to visit beaches, these glass items were often left on beaches intentionally or unintentionally. These glass pieces were buried in sand and were long forgotten until they disintegrated and came out as small, polished, round pieces.


However, a decade or two later, plastic replaced the glass. As a result, all these items were produced using plastic and there was a sharp decline in the number of glass items. While sea glass was commonly found on beaches and seas shores, now it has become a relatively rare phenomenon.


Where can you find Sea glass?

If you look hard enough you can find some amounts of sea glass along any beach. However, it is most commonly found on the beaches of the northeast United States, northeast England, Mexico, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Italy, and Australia.


Sea glass is an interesting phenomenon and is often compared with diamonds. The difference between the two is that diamonds are made by nature and polished by man whereas sea glass is made by man and polished by natural processes. If you are visiting or new to an area, ask the locals on the beach, many will be happy to help you find hot spots of the beautiful material.

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