What is Soda lime glass?
Soda lime glass, also known as soda-lime-silica glass, is the most commonly available and largely manufactured glass. Composed of roughly 70% Silica or Silicon Dioxide, 15% Soda or Sodium Oxide and 9% lime, also known as Calcium Oxide, along with other trace elements and additives, this is an inexpensive, reasonably hard, chemically stable and extremely workable type of glass. It is capable of being re-softened a number of times if needed, to manufacture and finish a product. This makes it versatile and suitable for diverse applications.
How is Soda lime glass made?
It is made by heating its raw materials in a glass furnace at temperatures up to 1675°C. Sheets of the material are created by floating molten glass on a bed of molten tin: a process which also earns this material its other familiar name, ‘Float Glass’. Such sheets become the base material for most clear, coloured and patterned glass types. Once they are produced, they can be machined, optically coated, chemically etched, sandblasted, coloured, laminated or polished to achieve a specific desired finish.
What is Soda lime glass used for?
The workability and affordability of this type of glass means that it can be used in varied objects, from window panels, bottles and vessels for food, beverages and commodity goods, to light bulbs and art and design objects. Though the material does not withstand very high temperatures or extreme mechanical and chemical conditions, it can still be successfully used for various scientific and industrial applications. Additionally, it can also be chemically or heat strengthened, or heat tempered to increase mechanical strength and thermal shock resistance.
How does Soda lime glass differ from Borosilicate glass?
It is often compared to its cousin, Borosilicate glass, which is an engineered glass developed more specifically for use in laboratories or applications where thermal, mechanical and chemical conditions are considered too harsh for Soda lime glass.
Unlike Soda lime glass, Borosilicate glass contains Boron Trioxide, an ingredient which ensures a very low coefficient of thermal expansion. This means that it will not crack under extreme temperature changes. This glass is highly resistant to chemical corrosion, however, is it more costly and not as easy to fabricate with. Borosilicate glass is harder, stronger and more durable. Typical applications of Borosilicate glass include pipelines, sealed-beam headlights, laboratory ware and bakeware.