Liquid glass will change your life, eliminate detergent profits

A Turko-German consortium has announced a liquid glass product "that will revolutionize everything" (it's a "new kind of glass," as Mr Wolfram might put it). Seriously, it sounds like the applications for this stuff are endless, and yes, that's what everyone said about aerogel and the Segway, but maybe this time... They're shipping to the UK soon, but "many supermarkets, may be unwilling to stock the products because they make enormous profits from cleaning products that need to be replaced regularly, and liquid glass would make virtually all of them obsolete."

Goddammit, Big Detergent is screwing up my future again!

Spray-on liquid glass is transparent, non-toxic, and can protect virtually any surface against almost any damage from hazards such as water, UV radiation, dirt, heat, and bacterial infections. The coating is also flexible and breathable, which makes it suitable for use on an enormous array of products.

The liquid glass spray (technically termed "SiO2 ultra-thin layering") consists of almost pure silicon dioxide (silica, the normal compound in glass) extracted from quartz sand. Water or ethanol is added, depending on the type of surface to be coated. There are no additives, and the nano-scale glass coating bonds to the surface because of the quantum forces involved. According to the manufacturers, liquid glass has a long-lasting antibacterial effect because microbes landing on the surface cannot divide or replicate easily.

Other organizations, such as a train company and a hotel chain in the UK, and a hamburger chain in Germany, are also testing liquid glass for a wide range of uses. A year-long trial of the spray in a Lancashire hospital also produced "very promising" results for a range of applications including coatings for equipment, medical implants, catheters, sutures and bandages. The war graves association in the UK is investigating using the spray to treat stone monuments and grave stones, since trials have shown the coating protects against weathering and graffiti. Trials in Turkey are testing the product on monuments such as the Ataturk Mausoleum in Ankara.

The liquid glass coating is breathable, which means it can be used on plants and seeds. Trials in vineyards have found spraying vines increases their resistance to fungal diseases, while other tests have shown sprayed seeds germinate and grow faster than untreated seeds, and coated wood is not attacked by termites. Other vineyard applications include coating corks with liquid glass to prevent "corking" and contamination of wine. The spray cannot be seen by the naked eye, which means it could also be used to treat clothing and other materials to make them stain-resistant. McClelland said you can "pour a bottle of wine over an expensive silk shirt and it will come right off".

Spray-on liquid glass is about to revolutionize almost everything (Thanks, Rick!)


  1. Hmmm…

    a) announcing it with a thousand and one uses makes it sound like a scam
    b) my lungs hurt just thinking about what happens if you inhale nano-particles of glass

  2. All their talk about it being “breathable” just filled me with extra terror about what happens when you breathe this stuff in (e.g., by spraying without a mask or in an enclosed space).

    I’m picturing lungs laminated from the inside. Yeeeacchhh. I hope not.


  3. Other outlets, such as many supermarkets, may be unwilling to stock the products because they make enormous profits from cleaning products that need to be replaced regularly, and liquid glass would make virtually all of them obsolete.” Fantastic marketing and unproven, as it hasn’t happened yet.

    Correct me if I am wrong about the following. It has be a bit of time since I have had any chemistry classes.
    The write up makes it seem different than what is traditionally called “water glass”, or sodium silicate which can clean, protect and repair (for instance leaks in a radiator), it can also damage some items. Ethanol and/or isopropanol added to sodium silicate pentahydrate (Naâ‚‚SiO₃.5Hâ‚‚O) makes a clear bouncy material that is much like Silly Putty. It cleans up with water and even will pick up some kinds of news print, just like Silly Putty- but it dries out faster.

  4. If I recall correctly, silicon dioxide (SiO2) has been used for more basic waterproofing for ages. People spray aerosol solutions of it onto their work boots, leather hats, and similar materials. This sounds like the same stuff taken to the next level.

    If this works the way it is advertised to, I’ll pick up some to coat my sturdier clothes with. Although, I’m curious if it will substantially alter the sounds some types of fabrics make when in motion. I like quiet clothes if I can help it. I’m weird like that.

    ~D. Walker

    1. You’re thinking of either PTFE (polytetrafluoroethane – trademarked by DuPont as Teflon), or one of the silicone-based oils out there (long chain molecules where some carbon atoms have been replaced by silicon).

      SiO2 is silica – good old fashioned sand – and (assuming this is real) this is a completely novel application for it.


    “Inhaling finely divided crystalline silica dust in very small quantities (OSHA allows 0.1 mg/m3) over time can lead to silicosis, bronchitis or (much more rarely) cancer, as the dust becomes lodged in the lungs and continuously irritates them, reducing lung capacities (silica does not dissolve over time.”

  6. wow,

    if anyone is interested, you can pick up SiO2 in liquid form at about 10$ a gallon at any ceramics supply house, its a basic glaze base. among a lot of other things… I wonder if these people mentined that tis water soulable, so once you get it wet the stuff just runs off…

    though its really useful for keeping eggs… you can dip fresh egges in it, and it seals up all the pores in the shells… I t used to be marketed as :eggkeep”

    not to mention you can grow really cool chrystal gardens with it….

  7. Aerogel is a material I can get behind. NASA says if you built an airtight 2000 sq ft house out of areogel, you could heat it to 70 degrees in Michigan during the dead of winter using only one candle (until the oxygen in your airtight house runs out).

    Still, if you could manufacture the stuff in 4×8′ sheets like drywall(efficiently) you could effectively end the energy crisis of every state south of the mason dixie line (summer air conditioning).

    1. A house out of Aerogel … the house that only NASA or the Air Force could afford. 59.99 for 1 cubic centimeter … how many CCs of Aerogel do I need to build a house?

  8. It sounds suspicious to me, as any product that have “a thousand uses”, at least it doesn’t claim to enlarge your penis. ;)

  9. Aerogel fleece and insulation board is available in the UK. It’s expensive, but not prohibitively slow. It’s excellent when you have limited space, but if you have space then cheaper insulation does the job fine.

  10. Be very wary of any “groundbreaking product” news which has a price in the article. See also: advertisements.

  11. They also take the conspiracy angle “Other outlets, such as many supermarkets, may be unwilling to stock the products because they make enormous profits.” which is a very common trope in other scams/useless product sales material.

    I seriously expected better from

  12. If I recall correctly, silicon dioxide (SiO2) has been used for more basic waterproofing for ages. People spray aerosol solutions of it onto their work boots, leather hats, and similar materials. This sounds like the same stuff taken to the next level.

    Sounds like a new company is plugging their particular new brand of the regular old product that’s been taken to the exact same level.

  13. Silica (SiO2) is insoluble in, well, everything. People generally call it “sand” when being highly technical. Sodium Silicate (Na2SiO4), aka waterglass, is water soluble and reacts with metal ions to precipitate brightly coloured insoluble salts. It’s the basis of the crystal gardens we all grew as children, and really not what you want to spray on anything which you don’t want to ruin.

    Either way, the chemistry of what they say is total rubbish. It could just be marketting spin, but I’d guess that it’s another “Wow the masses with magic and rip them off”. Anyone remember the BioBall and its miraculous sounding manure?

  14. This manufacturer (Nanopool) and product have actually been around for a while. In 2006 “Magic-Nano” bathroom spray had to be withdrawn after it caused respiratory problems in Germany ( This was thought to be because it was a fine aerosol and that it was the carrier fluid (?ethanol) not silicon dioxide causing a reaction. At that time the company had been punting some form of this product for a least 4 years.

    In 2008 the Health Protection Agency said that “Insufficient evidence was supplied to enable a view to be taken on its potential contribution to reducing healthcare acquired infections.” (

    There has been a cascade of press releases in the last two days all saying the same things. None of it is referenced and none refers to published scientific data. The company website has no reference material. However, “trials in a British hospital” are “promising” and sellers of cleaning agents are “worried” and may block sale of Nanopool’s product to prevent you, the deserving public, from getting your hands on this wonderfest.

    I may be (actually hope I am) wrong, but this has all the hallmarks of a scam/marketing puff piece.

  15. I’m with #21. There’s nothing but mythical evidence for its effectiveness, no material on its health effects, and reads like a press release. It wouldn’t be the first time physorg just ran one straight.

  16. How stable would that “luiqid glass” be? Why not cover ones teeth with a “not-so-easy-breaking” material and never have to worry about caries anymore? As long as it is noninvasive.

  17. As stated above, I’ve seen aerogel insulation as an option for industrial pipe lagging. In those situations the reduced heat transfer could be worth it.

  18. I worked making and researching aerogels for many years. The company i worked for Aspen Aerogels ( makes flexible aerogel sheets for somewhere near 3 dollars a square foot. Thats cheap for aerogels right? But seeing as how there are so many other insulation materials that are out that are cheaper people don’t sue aerogel so much unless they need to reduce the space their insulation takes up. Its mainly being used by the oil industry in things such as pipes being laid on the sea floor to reduce the amount of materials on the pipe laying boats and to keep the oil hot.

    I’ve even helped make polymer aerogel for blast mitigation. There are many uses for it but, widespread use has not been adopted yet.

  19. Other outlets, such as many supermarkets, may be unwilling to stock the products because they make enormous profits from cleaning products that need to be replaced regularly, and liquid glass would make virtually all of them obsolete.

    Nonsense. I see a huge emerging market for Nano-Windex to clean the nano-glass in your clothes, furniture, lungs…

  20. To everyone saying how expensive aerogel is: United Nuclear, which got mentioned in a BoingBoing article 4 years ago, sells 950 cc of granular aerogel for $35.

    I’m sure a solid sheet would cost much more, but does insulation require a solid sheet, or would well-packed granular aerogel (what they used on mythbusters for trying to make a fireproof covering for a house, I think) work almost as well?

  21. Exept the remarks that were already expressed about reservation of breathing the stuff, I am also extremly worried (scared even) about the segment that noted the applications in the food and agricultural industries. Especially when there are benefits to the growers which will make them more money. I’m afraid that when matters of public health and monetary rewards come into clash, the money ussualy wins, and the implications of digesting that “Liquid Glass” should be carefully studied before being alowed for nurishment consumpion.

    • asbestos
    • radium
    • teflon
    • carbon nanotubes

    I’m hopeful, but miracle substances have a pretty checkered history.

  22. Screw the clothes – if it is non-toxic, breathable and antimicrobial, I want to coat my skin with it! Dirt slides off, and no more body odor. Talk about squeaky clean!

    Hmmm…now, if I can only convince the attendees at Burning Man to do the same… :P

  23. Of course silicon doesn’t dissolve in water. Given that the best conceivable alternative to carbon-based life is silicon-based, and they’re going to eat us, we’re going to dissolve in them not the other way round.

    And laugh you may about Big Detergent, but they’ve suckered me for YEARS into buying their lovely counter-sprays (Miltons, Dettol) and using their lovely handgels to protect my loved ones from invading bugs.

    Of course, I only find out midway through a total-family assault by the admirably infectious norovirus that … none of these things kill it. Bleach does. The handgels only kill respiratory viruses. Not vomity viruses.

    So big detergent turned my wallet away from bleach (which is effective vs norovirus on surfaces [and probably inside stomachs, but let’s not] at 1:1000 dilution, and potentially at 1:10,000).

    So no more! Back to bleach, and may their profits sink! Down the drain! Haha

  24. Actually all a bit suss. “Liquid glass will change your life”.

    Lungs + liquid glass + “change your life” + “-form” combines into a suspicious looking algorythm for switching me to the silicon-based life side.

  25. Based on some of the comments in this thread, I’d guess a few of you really have a hard time with hair spray. But it does conjure a darkly humorous image in my head of some idiot on the floor of their kitchen, tape outline around the body. The detectives quietly discuss the apparent cause of death, pointing to the empty aerosol can of “Eazy-Cheez” and the yellow blast marks around the idiot’s nose.

    I realize someone else already said it, but let’s say it again. “Breathable” means a layer of that stuff itself allows air to circulate through it. It does not mean you should use liquid glass as nasal spray.

  26. I’m made suspicious about the early use of the word ‘quantum’ in this write-up. It doesn’t seem to be an overly woo-woo use of the word, but still….

  27. Materials scientist here.

    My initial reaction is that I cannot believe them, without seeing published articles in the scientific literature.

    SiO2 doesn’t just adhere to things spontaneously – how are they getting it to deposit on surfaces? Deposition of a ceramic such as silica on a pristine, single crystal surface generally requires a significant energy input. Everyday surfaces are coated with a thick layer of generic gunk, on top of the ever present chemisorbed water layer, which would further complicate things. I have a hard time parsing this, and without further context the SEM(?) micrograph shown in the post is hard to interpret (What is the contrast mode? What is the sample history? Scope imaging conditions?).

    They reference “quantum effects” to answer this, something that always gives me pause. Even assuming that we are talking about nano-scale particles, I cannot imagine a process by which simple aerosol application would produce a uniform coating. Nanoparticles tend to agglomerate extremely quickly once they are removed from dispersion (and getting dispersed nanoparticles is no small task). Then they just sit on stuff, like dust, without some further processing.

    Even if we further assume that we can overcome any process challenges (stable colloidal (nanoparticle) suspension, particles don’t agglomerate during deposition, “quantum” effects somehow yield perfect deposition on untreated surfaces, etc.) – how does applying a thin solid film of silica help keep things clean?

    As has been mentioned by others, silica is the primary constituent of window glass. So lets say we deposit our thin layer of silica…yielding a surface that is, basically, glass coated. Won’t it still get dirty, yielding further profits for Big Detergent, in the form of Windex sales? I’m afraid I’m not following, and this smells like snake oil.

  28. “…nano-scale glass coating bonds to the surface because of the quantum forces involved.”
    uh, yeah, right.

  29. Agree with that last post — they lost me at “quantum forces”. If they cited a specific kind of adhesion, such as van der Waals, maybe. But they’re using “quantum” as pure buzzword, and if you have to resort to buzzwords you don’t have anything better to offer.

    1. #53 again. Just want to note that van der Waals is ‘weak’, physical force. The silica would need to be truly chemically bonded to achieve the kind of mechanically stable coating that is implied.

      It would appear that the increased relative strength of physical bonding as particle size gets into the nanometer range is what they are trying to suggest as a mechanism, however.

      I wish this were true. Thin film deposition is annoying.

  30. Mmm, this lettuce is so crunchy! It must be fresh… you did remember to wash the glass off first, right?

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