bathroom, glass, glass walls
Design: Spacedge

Glass panels are used so commonly in the home that we don't often think of what they're made of – or rather, what type of glass they are. Glass goes through different treatment processes so they can be used safely in certain parts of the home. These different types of glass also shatter differently when they're broken. So read this, it might just save your life (and we're not just being dramatic here)! 

Also known as untreated glass or "regular glass", this comes straight from the producers. It breaks into large shards with sharp edges that can cut and also impale.

Glass is heated to about 650 deg C before it is gradually cooled. This creates surface and edge compression, which makes the glass about twice as strong as untreated glass. While the final product can withstand high heat and strong winds, it breaks into large shards, much like annealed glass. The plus side of this is that if used in a window, the pieces would stay within the frame and not crumble into small pieces like tempered glass.

tempered glass, safety glass, glass, broken glass
Photo: The New Paper

Heated to 650 deg C, it is blasted with cold air to cool it rapidly, which makes it about four to five times stronger than untreated glass. Also known as safety glass, it shatters into tiny pieces when broken, ensuring there are no big pieces with sharp edges. But it can shatter suddenly on its own from stress if not properly installed, or if there is presence of the impurity, nickel sulphide.

Made from layers of toughened glass and plastic bonded together, it helps the glass shards stay in place when broken so it does not break into large, sharp pieces. There is a characteristic "spider web" cracking pattern when the impact is not enough to completely pierce the glass, usually seen when the front windshield of a car is smashed.

Information from Singapore Safety Glass business development manager Gary Lee.

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