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5-Minute Crafts

The Difference Between Glass and Crystal

We all have some crystal vases, jars, and glasses — heavy, carved, and nice looking. But if you put them right next to an elegant thin glass, it’s really hard to see the difference.

We at 5-Minute Crafts found out what the difference between glass and crystal is and why it’s important to know the difference.


Glass is widely used by people because it is transparent to light, it can reflect, and refract it. Its main component is silicon dioxide — SiO2. The glass made from pure silica is called quartz. But this material has a very high melting point and viscosity, so to make working with it simpler, people add other chemicals.

For example, the glass we all know contains sodium carbonate, lime, magnesia, and alumina. It’s transparent and easy to shape.


Crystal is also called lead glass. So, it’s easy to guess what is added to regular glass to turn it into crystal. It’s lead oxide (PbO). Usually, crystal contains from 18 to 40% but today, most lead contains at least 24%. It creates a richer sparkle and more refraction, so crystal works like a prism.

How to tell regular glass from crystal

If you see something that looks like glass and crystal at the same time, here are a few tips to help you determine what it is.

  • Give a few delicate dings on the glass. Glass makes a clunking noise and crystal rings.
  • Run a wet finger on the edge. Crystal makes a subtle tone.
  • Watch how light goes through the glass. If it’s crystal, it should make a spectrum of colors.
  • Finally, crystal is always heavier than glass.
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