History of glass , also known as Vitreous solid , may be traced back to around 4000 years ago. First found to be in Mesopotamia, today in our modern civilization we find its use in every aspect of our life.
Glass is made of silica as its main ingredient, along with some chemical constituents like potassium /sodium carbonate,lime, soda ash, manganese dioxide etc. all these infuse glass with many physical properties such as thermal resistance, fire resistance, chemical resistance, mechanical properties etc.
Glass has both industrial use like in manufacturing, construction, building, packaging as well as domestic use .It is used in our homes as containers in different shapes and sizes as bowls, glasses, jars, bottes etc . It has also a great use in the packaging industry.
Glass containers are most commonly soda-lime glass, produced by blowing and pressuring techniques such as cutting glass bottles with a dremel. Now with the pace technology and people are growing and getting adapted to the newly innovated techniques and advanced technologies, it’s assured that with no less time, the glass industry will adapt to several energy efficient and durable techniques which not only improve the quality but also would take lesser time in comparison to the current span of time.
Here are some of the properties of glass bottles which has made it a preferable and an alternative to plastic containers
Some properties of glass bottles
Glass is the purest packaging material. The properties which add to its usability are;
- Both health and eco-friendly:
Glass bottles are very environmentally friendly as they are both 100% reusable and recyclable. Cullet i.e the old broken glass of the same type goes with the main ingredients in the manufacturing of a glass bottle. Glass bottles can be used as decorative products at home for their range of colours and design.
- Chemical resistance:
Glass bottles have resistance against rigorous chemicals like acids and alkalis and don’t react with them . That is why it is used to store chemicals in laboratories. Also glass pipes and tubes are used in chemical experiments. In these types of containers borosilicate glass or neutral glass is used. These possess high hydrolytic resistance due to the presence of boric acid.
Glass preserves the temperature of the material inside for a longer duration. This means it holds a steady temperature.
Glass bottles and jars don’t react with the food and liquid products stored in them.This makes them very ideal packaging and storing materials. Here regular soda-lime glass is used. It contains aluminium oxide which imparts chemical durability
- Airtight glass containers are very ideal for storage of pickles , jams etc for longer duration.
- They preserve the aroma, taste and flavour of the food materials without affecting them because it doesn’t contain BPAs as in plastics .
- It has a non porous surface which avoids the leaching of any contaminants into the stored snacks and drinks.
- It also maintains the scents and carbonation very well, making it a great choice for items like perfume,seltzer water or soda.
- Colour of plastic bottles degrade and discolour when exposed to organic juices like lemons and oranges, but that of glass water bottles remain the same.
- It preserves the quality of the product as it is impervious to microorganisms, odours, moisture and gases keeps the product unadulterated.
- Transparency and mechanical properties:
glass bottles are transparent which helps to see through them. Its high density, rigidity and hardness make it suitable for the packaging of liquid preparations.
- Colour and glazing:
Glass bottles give a wide range of choice for colours ,shape and sizes and designs to its consumers. This is why they are also used as decorative items at homes and other places. This also adds to the price of glass products.
- Thermal expansion behaviour:
Glass tends to expand with increase in temperature. Due to low coefficient of thermal expansion i.e. amount of expansion with increasing temperature, silica is more difficult to distort.
There are also some other properties of glass :
- Glass bottles are very easy to use as they take very less time to be clean and are easy to see if they are sufficiently clean which is not always clear with plastic. They also can be easily sterilised using heat
- Being gas tight it creates a barrier for carbon dioxide.
- Mineral water in glass bottles retains its fezzines for a longer time.
- These are also resealable
- Tinted glass reduces ultraviolet rays and certain wavelengths and thus gives sun protection.
- Because of its optical transparency, and resistance to high temperatures , radiation and energy, borosilicate glass wafers are used in a variety of medical devices.
- Also they can be easily welded by fusion.
There are also some cons of glass containers and packaging:
- Glass packaging is comparatively heavy compared to other packaging.
- It may shed some part I the formulation during the sterilization process.
- Sometimes ,it becomes hazardous as it may break.
- It is also fragile and brittle though it is a strong material.
With the increasing level of pollution in our surrounding it’s now time to make it plastic free. Glass is a great alternative to this. They are durable, don’t get easily corroded due to environmental factors, safe for health and hygiene, and we can even store baby products and medicine.
It is also helpful in generating renewable resources as low iron or extra clear glass is used as an excellent fit for solar cells , as it has extremely limited light reflecting properties.
While plastics are causing a higher amount of pollution, glass in comparison to it causes little to no pollution and if we make wise choices in selecting the glass, then there are few options. Another fact being plastics have never been competent with any other material, and it’s understandable that every material has its own sets of advantages and limitations but replacement of plastics with glass is a much safer and durable choice.