Low Iron versus Float Glass

Here’s a question that’s a current topic of conversation in Interior Design circles – What’s the difference between glass furniture produced with float glass and those produced with low iron glass?

The term low iron glass is getting used more and more these days especially when it comes to choosing glass furniture.

Let’s take a typical glass coffee table – if it’s all glass then it will have been manufactured using one of two methods – UV bonding or slumping, either way the edges of the table will be exposed and this is where the difference in the two glass types will be most evident.

Glass console tables made from float glass will have a dark green edge as can be seen in this comparison – the table in the background is manufactured from float glass note the dark green edge of the table as opposed to the table in the foreground which has the much lighter edge colour associated with low iron glass.

Low Iron Glass / Float Glass

Majority of glass produced these days is manufactured using the float method. This is where the molten glass is floated on a bath of molten tin ensuring the glass is perfectly flat and thus distortion free.

One of the main ingredients in float glass is silica sand, which has naturally occurring iron oxides. These oxides give the glass its dark green edge – the thicker the glass the more intense the colour.

Most glass furniture is manufactured from 10mm or 12mm thick float glass and will therefore by its very nature have a green edge.

To some designers and specifiers this green hue may be undesirable – perhaps conflicting with the rest of the interior design / colour scheme. This is where low iron glass becomes useful.

Low iron glass is still produced using the float method but the ingredients of the mix or batch as its known are altered and a higher grade of silica sand is used. This is almost completely free of iron oxides. By reducing the iron content the greenish tint associated with standard float glass is reduced to a minimum. The result is that the edge especially on thicker glasses has much lighter, whiter colour.

Low iron glass also offers much greater clarity when viewing items through the surface. The true colours of the object being viewed can be clearly seen through low iron glass whereas objects viewed through float glass will be affected by the green tinge inherent in float glass.

So you can therefore specify a low iron glass coffee table where you require a much lighter appearance or offer the standard float product where a heavier bolder look is required.

Take a look at our latest video and see if you can see the difference: –


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