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Various pieces of sea glass

Beachcombing 101: A Door County Treasure – Sea Glass

Many adults and a whole lot of kids enjoy combing beaches for things of interest or value, hence the name “beachcombing.” We’ve all seen the person with the metal-detector looking for things of value. Then there are kids and many adults who enjoy nothing more than roaming a beach looking for unique and interesting things including driftwood, seashells, and… sea glass.

The photo shows sea glass that I have collected from beaches in Door County. Most of the glass was collected on Washington Island and Plum Island. I have a theory why sea glass is more plentiful on the islands. I think it has to do with the currents and wave action of Death’s Door which carries and churns the glass into the unique and smooth shapes that you find beachcombing. It takes many decades to get the glass as smooth as those pictured.

It is cool to think that a bottle tossed overboard as garbage returns many, many years later as something beautiful.

Most Common Sea Glass Colors

The most common sea glass colors are white (clear), green and brown. Think soda, wine and beer bottles. Forty percent of sea glass will be these colors. Also very common (50%) are seafoam green pieces of sea glass. These tend to come mostly from Coca-Cola bottles but also from wine bottles, rum bottles and window glass.

Less Common Sea Glass Colors

Beautiful and much rarer (0.5%) are cobalt blue. These rare pieces come from medicine bottles and Noxzema bottles. Sometimes, cobalt blue bottles were used to hold poison. Less than 0.25% will be lavender. Lavender glass can come from any bottles or glass product made with manganese. Even more rare are light blue or cornflower blue sea glass. Only 1 in 500-700 pieces of sea glass will be this shade of blue. Some sources include Pre-1900 Milk of Magnesia, Vick’s Vapor Rub and other medical product bottles.

Rarest Sea Glass Color

One of the rarest colors is red. Only 1 in 10,000 pieces will be true red glass. These pieces of sea glass come from glass made by Anchor Hocking who originally used gold to make the vivid red color but later used copper for coloring. Sources of this glass include running lights on boats, a certain type of bottle used in the 1950’s by the Schlitz Brewing Company and kitchen utensils.

Beachcombing with SailTime Door Co.

I hope you have an opportunity to visit Door County and do some beachcombing. Sea glass is just one of the interesting things you’re likely to find. SailTime Door County offers members the chance to explore Door County waters, islands, marinas, and beaches. Contact Captain Bill Wons to schedule your sailing vacation aboard the Beneteau Oceanis or Jeanneau Sun Odyssey.