What's beach glass?
Beach Glass Vs Sea Glass
I'm going to start off with the one that I know way more about history-wise because I grew up in this area right down the road from Lakeshore Park which is the Township park within Ashtabula, OH in the United States housing a piece of Lake Erie, one of the Great Lakes. Beach glass hunting does, in fact, take some skills. The first time I tried to look for the beautiful treasures I arrived home with a bunch of shiny rocks much to my dismay :(
Beach glass has a distinct "etching" within its frosting once dried. Each piece receives this appearance from the fresh water of the lakes being naturally tumbled by the waves and withstanding extreme cold and mild to hot summer/autumns as well as being in the direct sunlight plus crashing against rocks and sifted through sand.
Beach glass is specifically only found in fresh bodies of water such as the Great Lakes, in North America which include Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Lake Huron and the creeks that stream through these areas. All of these lakes drift upwards eventually and through Niagara Falls which filters into the ocean.
So there may actually be pieces of sea glass that end up on the shores of the lakes and vice versa.
The Great Lakes for the winter of 2017-2018 set a new record with an all-time freezing status of an average of 90% frozen. Lake Superior had the coldest waters reaching 95.5% of ice. This hasn't happened since the 1970s! Horrible beach glass conditions! When the water turns to ice its not tumbling these rare beauties anymore until it starts to thaw out.
The universal rarest of rare colors for beach glass is red followed by yellow, orange, grey, teal, super dark blue, dark violet and sometimes black.
I mentioned black as sometimes because Conneaut Township Park is known for being the famous glass insulator beach, as its home to the black beach glass that appears maroon/violet once held up to the sunlight. The old General Electric company who produced the glass insulators that were used on electric poles and to protect light bulbs when shipped was located in Conneaut, OH and frequently dumped faulty and excess production materials into the lake. Since this company went out of business in the area as they moved their production facilities elsewhere, these are super cool treasures to find those glass hunters from all over the world venture to the small town to look for this specific find. If you are ever at this beach, they are also home to Love Lock bridge which passes over the creek that runs into the lake. The tradition is that you put a padlock on the bridge with your significant other and throw the key in the water. I have yet to find any keys wash up on the shore which would be an exciting find! I did find a Sloan's Liniment bottle in remarkable condition with a frosty appearance once dried at this beach though.
Lake Shore Park in Ashtabula, OH has an abundance of interesting beach glass if you can dodge the bird droppings and seek further down near the rocky cove area. Findings of Coca-Cola bottle fragments, mirror glass, and sunglasses lens turning up nicely frosted here. Geneva State Park in Geneva, OH has been known to toss beach glass marbles during rough wavey days upon the sides of larger pebble areas.
For glass to turn into beach glass in a fresh body of water the time is much shorter spanning from 8-10 years due to the PH, tides, and temperature extremes. This has been a heavily debated topic as some beach glass hunters will state the opposite. However, being the third generation beach glass seeker this knowledge was passed down to me. After 12 years maximum the original glass that it started out as when it started naturally tumbling in the waves ends up turning back into the sand where it was rooted from.
Sea glass has a slightly different appearance than beach glass. The salt water has a different PH level, more substantial and rougher tide changes during the day, and usually smoother transitions of temperature extremes. The texture of the frost is slightly more pitted while still remaining smooth when touched. The salt water is believed to actually preserve the glass somewhat as the waves naturally smooth and transform these beauties.
Sea glass is exactly what the name entails. It is only found in salt water bodies of water such as the ocean, certain rivers, and the sea.
Sea glass can be found year around depending on where you live and if that body of water isn't frozen.
Since salt water bodies of water are more abundant that freshwater bodies of water, the rarity of sea glass is dependant on the area being glass hunted. Some beach areas around the world have more of one color which may be very rare at another. Universally, pure orange, yellow, or red with smooth edges and a super frosty appearance are the rarest color-wise.
Since the salt water somewhat protects these shards of glass even with violent waves, sea glass can take up to 20-30 years before its ready to enjoy. The barrier that water creates is what makes them slightly more different.
Sea glass and beach glass are both rare treasures amongst the waves! I hope that this post clears up the differences between these two and now you know what beach glass is!