Why Do Some Colors Of Glass Lose Their Gloss When Heated Or Combined With Other Colors?

Glass can change its color and become duller for various reasons, and this change may vary with the cause, the glass type, and the location of the glass. Some of the common causes of glass losing its gloss (devitrify) and color are heat and combining glass with other colors.

Devitrify refers to a situation where a glass’s structure changes, making it look cloudy, duller, and sometimes have a rough surface. While it can occur due to dirt or dust sticking on the glass, it can also occur due to chemical change. 

This post aims to discuss the various reasons why glass loses its luster and color when subjected to heat or stained with colors, plus other different possible causes of glass lose its shimmer to help you care for your glasses well.

Causes Of Glass Dullness And Discoloration Over Time

As mentioned earlier, subjecting heat or staining a glass can cause it to lose its shininess. Here a detailed explanation of why this is so and the possible solutions to prevent glasses from losing their brightness and color.

1. Heat 

Usually, different types of glasses have varying molecular structures. If you heat glasses to a certain degree, they might change their appearance temporarily or permanently, depending on the amount of heat. For example, a gold ruby glass can change to brown when heated.

Heating glass under high temperature usually causes its passive components to start reacting individually, leading to crystallization. This process can make glass have a nonglossy effect. 

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Heat changes the molecular structure of glass. If you’re a gaffer, you can prevent this effect by venting the kiln. 

2. Stained/painted glass

Stained glass has been in existence for over 1000 years now. Most people prefer painted glass for various reasons, including beautifying their buildings and controlling light. Several factors can cause colored glasses to become duller and lose their color.

One of the common reasons why stained/painted glass becomes dull is due to poor maintenance. If you don’t clean glass for a long time, it will lead to dirt accumulation or cloudiness due to mineral deposits or residue. Other environmental factors can cause glasses to become dull it too.

Some of these factors are indoor and outdoor pollution, weather conditions, pest damages like rats or pigeons’ waste, and other microorganisms. Sunlight can affect colored glass too. Below is a deeper explanation of how sunlight affects colored glasses.

Effects of Sunlight on Colored Glass

There are approximately 205 sunny days in the United States, meaning the sun usually shines for almost half of the year. While sunlight is great, it can significantly affect the appearance of your glasses, especially if it directly shines on them. Usually, glasses are not designed the same way; some can withstand sunlight more than others.

A colored/painted/stained glass can become duller or fade when subjected to heat over time. However, the dullness or discoloration usually varies with the glass quality and technique used to make it. 

Stained glasses created through glazing, laminating, and painting are more susceptible to sunlight damage than those made using techniques that bake glass under very high temperatures.

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Baking glasses under high temperatures makes them more resistant to ultraviolet light. If well-taken of, they can last for about 75 years without losing their luster and color. Heating glass using this method makes the sand molecules blend correctly with other present minerals it contains to give a particular specific color based on the minerals.

The glass will retain a specific color upon cooling. The only way to reverse this final color is by subjecting the glass to the same temperature amount used to make it. This temperature is usually about 350 degrees and above.

Sunlight also affects glasses by warming the air around their outer surface, forming more significant water vapor amounts. This water vapor will then condense on the glass when the humidity and temperature drop inside the building, leading to glass damage and dullness.

How to Make Your Dull Glasses Glossier

Dull glasses and glassware are a common occurrence in most homes. Depending on the dullness cause, you can make your glasses sleeker again in just a few steps. Usually, it’s easy to brighten up glasses that are dull due to dust or dirt, mineral residue, and deposits, as you’ll only require to clean them using various solutions.

The common homemade solutions for cleaning cloudy glasses are baking soda and vinegar. Soaking cloudy glassware on soap water can do the trick too. 

Vinegar is effective in removing mineral deposits on glasses. First, you should put an equal amount of water and vinegar on the cloudy glass, then leave for about 10 hours, then clean it using a scrub pad until it’s clean.

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If your hand can’t fit in the glass, add rice on the vinegar and water mixture to cat as abrasive, then swirl it after several hours until the deposits are removed. Then rinse it with clean water. Use undiluted vinegar solution if the mineral deposits still don’t come out.

Wiping glasses with alcohol and citrus solvents like paint stripper and adhesive remover can remove filmy cloudiness and make your glass brighter again. To do this, wet a clean white fabric with either alcohol or citrus solvent, then gently wipe the glass with it. 

Generally, the best way to prevent your glasses from becoming dull is through proper maintenance and regular cleaning using suitable detergent and soft water. Minerals found on hard water usually remain on glass, making it look foggy and old if it’s not cleaned.

If you have glassware and antiques, it’s essential to keep them away from direct sunlight and high heat temperatures to prevent their molecular structures from changing due to UV light. Proper ventilation and the use of window coverings can reduce the effect of sunlight and humidity on glass. 

The quality of your glass also matters. If you want glasses that will serve for ages without getting affected by heat and other factors, go for the high-quality ones baked under very high temperatures.

Dull glasses usually make a glass building or glassware look very old and unattractive. Knowing the various causes of glass dullness and discoloration can help you take care of your glass items and buildings properly.It’s advisable not to put glass near high temperatures and direct sunlight exposure for a brighter-looking glass. Go for high-quality glasses and clean them regularly to last for years while still having its gloss.