Glass & Crystal Raw Materials

The Raw Materials

Sand (Silica), the main ingredient for glass making, is ‘cleaned’ by using water, hot air and/or magnets.  This is to remove the Iron content, which otherwise would render the glass a green colour.

Soda Glass is the term given to glassware to which lead oxide has not been added.

Glassware is called ‘Crystal’ (or Crystal-Glass), when it has 10% or more, of Lead Oxide (or 10% or more, of zinc, barium, or potash, alone, or as a total) in the mix.

The quantity of Lead Oxide in ‘Lead Crystal’ is 24%, or more, adding clarity, weight and high refractive properties.  The addition of Lead Oxide also makes the glass easier for the craftsman to cut and at the same time cause the glass to becomes more prismatic.


Sand is the main ingredient in glass & crystal

Photograph of Crab throwing sand (the main ingredient in glass & crystal) kindly loaned by Wild Animal Photography

Soda Ash, Lime, Magnesium Oxide and Aluminium Oxide are added.  Like two people baking a sponge cake, other ingredients will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer!  Many oxides can be used, aside from Lead – Gold, Iron, Cobalt and Uranium add colour, while Barium oxide is added for strength (Boron is used to make Pyrex).

Crystal Content

Soda Glass

No lead content.  Any descriptions on this website which do not have reference to Crystal, are Soda Glass.


Must have 11% Lead Oxide (or other oxides of a certain group to make 11% or more) in the mix.

24% Lead Crystal

An industry standard for Lead Crystal Glassware, must have 24% Lead Oxide or more in the mix.  Heavier than Crystal~Glass, with more ‘Colour’.

Full Lead Crystal

An unfortunately dying art; must have 31% Lead Oxide in the mix.  We do not offer any products made with 31% Lead Crystal.

Optical Crystal

The ‘softest’ material of all and easily engraved by hand (also easy to scratch!).  The WhiteFire brand is the highest quality, made from the same material as prescription quality spectacles.  Our K9 & Fusion Crystal are also Optical Crystal

Further Information In This Category:


- All about the History of Glass and where it all started.


- The difference in quality resulting in the Methods of Manufacture.


- What is "Cut Crystal" and how is it achieved.


- The different ways glass & crystal can be personalised.

  - Sandblast engraving Glass & Crystal.
  - Information about hand engraved glass & crystal.

- The things to look for in Glass & Crystal.


- How to look after your glass & crystal, plus cleaning tips.


If you have any questions, our knowledgeable staff are on hand to answer them.  Simply Contact Us.