Beach Glass: The Weathered and Worn Treasure on the Shore

 In Travel

A favorite hobby for many who walk our beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline in Algoma is looking for beach glass. Often called sea glass, which comes from salt water, beach glass comes from fresh-water and both are the result of the same source and process: weather-worn, wave-battered glass.

Beach glass in Algoma WI

Most of this glass likely started out as a bottle, vase, or perhaps a piece of tableware. Somehow it found its way into the water, maybe from a shipwreck or back in the day when dumping trash in waterways was common. These items then get tossed around in the waves and beaten against the rocks, sometimes for decades, and as a result, take on a new life as beautiful treasures that wash up on the shore.

The color of the beach glass is determined by its source. The most common colors of beach glass are white, brown, and emerald green. These pieces likely come from milk bottles, beer bottles, and household jars. Colors a little harder to find are jade, aqua, cobalt blue, and amber. These pieces likely came from whiskey, medicine, or soda bottles, and cosmetic jars.

Less common colors include gray, black, teal, some blues, pink, purples, and turquoise and probably originated as perfume bottles and candy dishes. The colors considered rare are yellow, red, and orange and could come from ship lanterns, fine china, milk pitchers, and streetlamps. Over time, nature takes what was once man’s garbage and turns it into sparkling natural gems – naturally recycled glass.

The best places to find pieces of beach glass are in piles of rocks that build up. Remember to look IN the water for rocks and debris that have yet to be washed up on the shore. Scoop up handfuls of rocks from under the water and see what you find.  Check after a storm or high tide as that helps wash more up on the shore.

It has been said that beach glass is getting harder to find due in part to the number of collectors and we hope, not as many people are throwing their trash in the water.

On any given day you might find people combing the Crescent Beach shoreline for beach glass. Some people collect it for the fun. Others create jewelry, art, or home décor items. Whatever the reason, it is a great, outdoor activity that the whole family can enjoy for free.

And wouldn’t it be fun to imagine where the glass came from?

by Robyn Harper, Social Media Coordinator, Algoma Area Chamber of Commerce

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