Making glass doesn’t have to be a difficult process. In fact, This article will cover the basics of making glass with nothing more than a charcoal grill, White Beach Sand or Silica, Washing Soda, Lime or Borax and of course the ideal fuel for this method which is charcoal. It is important to note the difference between Charcoal and Briquettes. Both fuel sources will work but Charcoal is better because it burns hotter. Getting the right temperature is a very important consideration if the highest quality glass is going to be made.
Now that the materials needed to make glass with a common Charcoal Grill have been established, lets discuss how to achieve the adequate temperature for melting sand down and forming quality glass. Under more traditional methods of making glass from pure white beach sand(silica), temperatures of 3,500°F is needed to melt the silica crystals. Because this temperature can’t be achieved from charcoal, the sand used needs to be specially formulated by adding Washing Soda, Lime or Borax. This formulation will disrupt the quartz-crystal structure of silica and reduce the required temperature to melt the sand.
A Charcoal Grill alone won’t achieve the necessary temperatures of 2,000°F. To reach temperatures this high, a shot-vac is needed to blow air into the chamber from underneath the Grill. With enough coals and with a strong enough shot-vac, there shouldn’t be a problem achieving temperatures that will melt down silica into glass. While white beach sand is pleasant to work with, it might be more practical to start with glass and then melt this down into a form that can be molded and crafted. The reason is that 2,000°F isn’t quite hot enough to melt down silica completely into a nice, smooth crystal clear product. Bubbles in the glass tend to form when temperatures are not hot enough during the melting phase. A creative look know doubt, but if you are looking for clear, start with actual glass as your raw material.
Safety is a very important consideration regarding this nifty process of making glass in a backyard bbq grill. Make sure you have the proper fire retardant clothing and gloves before attempting to form your own glass. A well thought out plan of what the finished glass product is going to be will reduce the risk of injury and is an important safety consideration as well.
In addition to safety concerns, having a solid understanding and vision of what the final glass product is going to be will be a big help in knowing what tools will be needed to fashion the glass. Whatever the plan may be, don’t expect to create something too exaggerated. With simplicity comes limitation on just how much fabricating can occur. A safe approach to take is to use a cast-iron pot for melting the silica down in and then using graphite molds to shape the melted solution. A great resource for finding creative casting molds is the internet. Just search around until the right mold is found for the project that you have in mind.