Some people may think that all glass is made the same. Yes, glass can come in different shades and shapes, but its actual composition cannot be altered, right?
Different products call for different types of glass. Two common kinds of glass are low iron and clear. Their properties differ because their ingredients aren't the same, so one may be better suited than the other for certain design projects. Glass experts can explain the differences between low iron glass and regular clear glass and which kind might be the right choice depending on the circumstance.
Regular Clear Glass
While “clear” is in the name, clear glass is not the clearest type of glass you can get.
While regular clear glass does not have substantially high iron content, it is higher than low iron glass. Due to this higher iron content, clear glass has a greenish tint to it. This quality can cause issues. If you’re looking to have the glass back-painted or coated a specific shade of yellow, for instance, your glass fabricator won't want to use regular clear glass because it will be harder to match the color. For this reason, glass fabricators will typically recommend low iron glass instead.
Low Iron Glass
Float glass manufacturers create low iron glass by reducing the amount of iron in the molten glass formula. This type is more transparent than regular glass and it doesn't have that greenish tint. In fact, modifying the iron content can increase the light transparency by 5 to 6 percent.
With a clearer canvas to start with, back-painting or coating go much smoother, making the finished product the exact shade you wanted. Therefore, architects and designers prefer that glass fabricators use low iron glass when color-matching.
Since the edgework of low iron glass is clearer and less green than it is with clear glass, it's not just great for color-matching; it is also great to leave as is and use it for display cases and shelves in retail stores. Because of the glass' clearness, consumers can view the merchandise without that pesky green tint in the way.
So can I use glass that doesn’t contain any iron?
Some level of iron is necessary for the glass to be produced. Otherwise, it would be too soft to be used in applications where glass is needed. So, remember: a little iron is a good thing when you want the glass to last.