What is the difference between glass and crystal?

What is the difference between glass and crystal

Once upon a time, crystals were present in almost every home. Intricately cut vases, glasses, sugar bowls and vases were synonymous with elegance. Crystal glass is also available today. Nowadays, they are made of the highest quality whiskey sets, sets of glasses or glasses. Given the multitude of offers on the market, it is worth knowing what is the difference between glass and crystal. Is it worth investing in crystal glass now? Finally, is crystal glass safe?

What is the difference between glass and crystal?

Forty years ago, crystals decorated interiors, emanating a luxurious and elegant glow. They were not only a decorative element, but also had practical functions, decorating tables on special occasions. Today, crystals they seem to be a rarity, replaced by common glass. But what is the basic difference between glass and crystal that gives the latter such unusual features? The basis is lead, the addition of which causes a number of changes in the final material.


Crystal glass, thanks to its unique structure, exudes elegance and luxury. The lead content gives it an extraordinary shine and transparency that attracts the eye. Beautiful decorations made of wood are also common gold.

Crystal is usually thicker and heavier than ordinary glass, which is due to the production process and the content of the seemingly controversial element. It is clearer and exhibits greater light refraction, leading to beautiful reflective effects. That is why such characteristic cuts appear in crystal glass, which is additionally enhanced by the effect of scattered light.

The sound emanating from the crystal is clearer and more resonant, very characteristic, which results directly from its structure modified by lead. This makes crystal objects not only visually beautiful, but also pleasant to the ear.

Most crystals are handmade, which adds uniqueness and character to them. Craftsmen try to create unique patterns and decorations that give crystals their unique charm.

What’s the easiest way to distinguish crystal from glass?

In order to effectively distinguish a beautiful, noble crystal from ordinary soda glass, it is worth knowing the set of features that characterize it. Crystal, technically speaking, is nothing more than lead glass.

However, it is not necessary to delve into the chemical composition to distinguish between these two materials. There are obvious differences that can be seen with the naked eye, such as mass, thickness, transparency and structure. To find out the difference between glass and crystal, it is worth checking a number of characteristics.

  • Solidity

Crystal is softer than standard glass, which makes it less resistant to mechanical damage. Therefore, although more elegant, it is less often used for everyday use. Ordinary glass is more practical because it is more resistant to breakage.

  • Clarity

Crystals are characterized by greater transparency. This makes them ideal for presenting fine spirits because it is easier to assess their color. There is even a term: crystal clear – which refers to the properties of lead glass.

  • Sound

When you hit the crystal, you will hear a clearer sound than with standard glass. This is the result of the acoustic properties of the crystal, which ring like bells.

  • Libra

Crystal is much heavier than glass, which is noticeable upon first contact with both substances. It is the density of lead that gives the crystals their characteristic mass.

Is crystal glass safe?

What is the difference between glass and crystal – the simplest way is to say that it is the composition. However, the addition of a controversial element also causes crystal glass to be perceived as hazardous to health. Of course, this has little to do with the truth.

Crystal glass, although made with the addition of lead, is safe for health, and the addition of the element does not negatively affect the human body. In fact, the amount of lead oxide in crystal glass is low enough to pose no health risk. Lead is added to the crystal glass production process mainly due to its properties that influence the unique character and aesthetics of crystal products.

How does the addition of lead affect the glass?

Lead, in the form of oxide, affects the elasticity and softness of the glass mass, which allows carving and forming crystal products. The first experiments with the addition of this element to glass took place in England in the 17th century. It is thanks to lead that crystal products are solid and their hand-decorated details can be extremely precise. In addition, the lead content significantly improves the refractive index of the glass, which gives it its characteristic shine and shine. Thanks to the additions of lead and bromine, crystal glass is also heavier, which adds prestige and solidity to it.

Does the addition of lead pose a health risk?

Even though lead, which is considered toxic, is one of the basic ingredients of crystal glass, its amount is so low that it does not pose a health hazard. Therefore, the use of crystal glassware and products does not pose the risk of lead poisoning. Lead and its oxides determine the difference between glass and crystal and therefore influence the appearance of all the characteristics of crystal glass.

Additionally, modern crystal glass production technologies make it possible to introduce lead- and barium-free versions to the market. Modern crystal glass without additives is an extremely flexible, transparent and health-safe material. Its safety level is up to twice as high as traditional crystal glass, making it an ideal alternative for people who prefer lead-free products.

How to care for a crystal?

Crystals, due to their beauty and unique elegance, deserve special care and attention. This allows them to maintain their unique shine and durability for many years. They are also perfect gift idea. Here are some tips on care, storage and current crystal trends.

Crystal care

Crystals should be cleaned regularly to remove deposits and dirt that may cause their surface to become dull. It is best to use mild detergents and warm water, avoiding too hot water or too strong cleaning agents.

It is also worth polishing the crystals to restore their original shine. For polishing, it is best to use special glass cloths that will help remove dirt and obtain a shiny surface.

Before washing your crystals, check that they do not have any delicate decorations on them, such as gold or silver elements, which may require special care.

Crystal storage

Crystals should be stored in a dry and ventilated place to prevent moisture from accumulating, which may cause their surface to become dull.

The perfect place to store your crystals are glass showcases or cabinets that not only display them, but also protect them against mechanical damage.

Current crystal trends

Crystals still remain a very fashionable decorative and interior design element. Their timeless charm and elegance make them suitable for both classic and modern arrangements.


Currently, interior design trends are seeing a return to classics and tradition, which makes crystals an even more desirable decorative element.

Modern crystals, such as minimalist ones, are also becoming more and more popular vases or modern lamps made of crystals that add a subtle touch of luxury to the interior.