In nature, glasses are formed when sand and/or rocks, often high in silica, are heated to high temperatures and then cooled rapidly. The Glass in Nature display shows specimens of glass made in nature. Obsidian or volcanic glass, for example, is molten rock that has quickly cooled, becoming rock in a glassy state.
What is used to make glass?
The main raw material used to make glass is sand. To make clear glass, a special sand called silica sand is used. This fine white sand is needed because it is very pure and does not contain other unwanted chemicals. Glass production also needs limestone, soda ash and other chemicals to colour the glass.
How glass was invented?
The ancient Roman historian Pliny suggested that Phoenician merchants had made the first glass in the region of Syria around 5000BC. Glass melting furnaces were small and the heat they produced was hardly enough to melt glass. But in the 1st century BC, Syrian craftsmen invented the blow pipe.