How to make sea glass

My wife, my kids, and I enjoy hunting for sea glass on the beach. Spotting a colorful bit of sand-polished glass provides the same kind of mini-thrill I got when I used to fish for trout as a kid in Colorado. I don't think it would be much fun to make my own sea glass, because the rarity of the glass is what makes it a joy to collect. But Rich Faulhaber at Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories wanted to make a pathway out of sea glass, and having to collect it bit by bit on the beach would have been completely impractical. So he figured out how to make it using a cement mixer.
5327114526_4f09da93fe.jpg All you need is some glass, some sand, sea water and some way of mimicking the ocean and (bam!) you get sea glass.

I wanted to do large volumes, so I borrowed my uncle's cement mixer to mimic the ocean. The steel fins inside mimic large rocks. I started breaking wine bottles into small pieces and stole some sand from the kids play box, adding it all to the mixer. Since I didn't have any sea water handy I just filled it with tap water and turned it on. After an hour I checked and the sharp edges were all broken off, after two hours there was some frosting and smoothing and after 4 hours et voilà-- I had sea glass! With the capacity of the mixer I will have my garden path in no time.

The beach glass machine


  1. I actually did spend a lovely day once helping an artistically inclined friend collect sea glass for a (small) mosaic, which sadly meant I could not keep anything I found, and I found some gorgeous pieces, almost opalescent. So I really do appreciate the motivation here, and hope a picture of the completed path is posted.

  2. With the capacity of the mixer I will have my garden path in no time.

    How will you walk on it after drinking that much wine though?

  3. Sometimes I wish I still had my old rock tumbler. I figure it would do a pretty good job making sea glass, albeit on a smaller scale.

  4. Recommendation for sea glass collectors: the north shore of Lake Superior, between Duluth and the Split Rock Lighthouse. But wait until August.

  5. Now I know what to do with all the 19th century rat stop I removed from the barn while rebuilding the stable. Chuck it in the C-mixer!

  6. Up until now, I thought sea glass was made just our of sand, sea water and some unknown phenomenon. I had no idea that glass was actually another part of the equation.

    Thanks for ruining my childhood memories, BB. And for giving me new knowledge.

  7. I grew up in a small costal town on Lake Michigan. As a little girl I had a stunning collection of beach glass – my favorite peices were pretty blues and greens. Our house was right on the water, so I spent very nearly every day of my summers playing on the beach and in the surf. I left Michigan years ago; I’ve turned the beach glass into jewelry to keep my childhood spent on the water close.

  8. I used to love strolling the beaches of Puget Sound and collecting bits of sea-seasoned glass pieces. I would sort them by colors and use them in various creative endeavors. This is a clever way of making glass resemble those bits collected along some sandy shore and I like it (especially now that I am landlocked in a freakin’ desert!).
    But I have to say this: Cheater!

  9. You might check out Glass Beach in Ft Bragg CA. It’s on the site of the old city dump. The whole beach is filled with ground bits of glass. Most of the bright colors have been collected by now, but it’s still pretty cool

    1. I was just going to post about Glass Beach. The irony is, even though it’s an old dump, it’s illegal to pick up the glass!

  10. This post made me so happy! It reminded me of going to Silverton and New Denver, BC, where the beach glass is from paddle-boats back in the day. The history of the area is such that there are bits of Japanese pottery mixed in with the regular beach glass.

    DWittSF, what is it about that particular beach that makes it illegal to pick up the glass?

  11. Re: TFA, if you started with thicker pieces of glass, couldn’t you run the Sea Glass Machine longer and get even more realistic sea glass? From using, I dunno…maybe thicker bottles? I’m just curious, because I’ve never seen sea glass before now, and it looks beautiful in the images I’m googling :) especially the blue colored sea glass. wow….

  12. i admittedly woke up cranky this morning,
    but what we’re talking about here is just tumbled craft glass,
    not sea glass

    and by the way,
    ‘get off my lawn!’

  13. Making tumbled glass like that is very good for craft projects, but any “serious” collector of beach glass will tell you it’s not allowed in competitions and they take it as an insult if you bring it in.

  14. Sea Glass is nothing more than trash, and before it gets smooth it’s sharp and dangerous. I pick up handful after handful of sharp broken glass while out on my morning beach runs. If you see glass on the beach please UNLITTER it! and help clean up our waterways. If you want “beach glass” just use the method described in this article and make it at home. Make all kinds of stuff out of glass and keep it out of our landfills. Recycle, ReUse, make it pretty if you can!

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