View Full Version : Collecting beach glass

06-19-2014, 12:15 AM

In a story I am writing, my MC loves to collect beach glass, something I've never done. I have read a decent amount about it, but I would love to hear people's actual experiences looking for it. Anything you have could be helpful.

06-19-2014, 12:22 AM
Not as much of it as there used to be. I once picked up a gallon of it over a summer, be hard pressed to fill a pint jar now.

It takes patience, a little digging and a lot of luck.

There are too many people collecting it and not as much trash taken out on barges into the ocean and dumped.

Still it fun to do and there is enough out there you can probably get a few pieces most days. The degree to which it is sanded varies quite a bit and I don't see that many pieces with well rounded edges as I used to.

As you have probably googeled, different colors and types are more sought after than others

06-19-2014, 12:29 AM
During the summers in Washington State I'd go to some favorite beach parks. It wasn't too difficult to find beach glass (typically brown or green colored). You could find several pieces in an hour, though whether they're worth keeping was a different matter. Usually they'd be too angular, and I'd throw them out as far as I could into the water (come back in twenty years for it, or let someone else find it then).

On a similar but different topic, my wife lived in Japan when her father was stationed there. They'd walk along the beach and collect glass-floats (to hold up fishing nets). We have a basket full of 4'' diameter floats, and a big 12'' float in our living room. Your MC could collect those if they live on the west coast.

06-19-2014, 12:48 AM
I've collected beach glass on the Great Lakes and the Atlantic. The pickings are slimmer than they once were, and no place I collect has ever been plentiful. I walk along as close to the edge of the water as I can, or along a high-tide line of small debris, watching for something shining or out of place.

Most of the glass I've found is still too much like a piece of broken glass. I throw a lot back, or if it's really sharp, put it in a trash container if there is one. I see mostly green (think Heinekin bottle) and frosted white which was probably once just clear glass, not so much brown. The very few times I've found red, orange, or blue sea glass I felt lucky.

Small aside: Beach shops selling shells and such often create their own beach glass for sale by tumbling it with sand in a rock polisher. Cheaters.

Maryn, seeing they also import shells from far, far away

06-19-2014, 12:52 AM
Small aside: Beach shops selling shells and such often create their own beach glass for sale by tumbling it with sand in a rock polisher. Cheaters.

:D It doesn't count unless you had to dig for it on a secluded beach and fight off a few hermit crabs.

06-19-2014, 01:10 AM
I'm thinking of tumbling a little, but I'll never consider it the same as what I pick up. '

Doesn't matter where on the beach you are, especial in the early spring or after a storm. there are some 'secrets' to picking up the fresh stuff. I'd bet the New Jersey beaches have a pretty good bunch everywhere.

06-19-2014, 03:21 AM
I hardly ever find beach glass where I live (southwest coast of Florida). I think I've found three decent pieces over the last year. Shark teeth, on the other hand, are everywhere. I've got jars full of them.

06-19-2014, 03:52 AM
After storms or rough seas is a great time to go beach trawling for anything. I've had the best luck on Atlantic coasts (but I've never tried on a Pacific coast).

06-19-2014, 09:31 AM
I hardly ever find beach glass where I live (southwest coast of Florida).
I always find beach glass where I live (Southwest Florida...) :)

If you've ever been to a beach and looked for seashells, you've experienced hunting beach glass. If you haven't, you really need a research trip. It's tax deductible...


06-19-2014, 11:12 PM
In many places there isn't nearly as much beach glass as there was 30 years ago or so. The reason? Bottle return laws.

Since many U.S. states now require a deposit be paid per bottle there is an incentive to NOT just throw your bottles away. Because of that there are fewer bottles on the roadside and fewer find their way into the surf areas to be turned into beach glass.

When I was a kid I could easily find beach glass on Lake Michigan beaches. I mean, it would be rare to go to the beach and not bring home two or three nice examples. Now I can't remember the last time I found any.

06-19-2014, 11:32 PM
We were just at the beach in Galveston, TX, on the Gulf Coast, and did some combing for beach glass. We spend, maybe, 45 minutes at it, after the tide had gone out and it was getting dusky. For some reason, the pieces were easier to see--sunset glinting off of them, I suppose. We looked mostly in a line of debris midway up the beach. My husband also found a lot of his pieces under seaweed.

We (two of us) collected (along with shells) enough to fill a quarter cup measure. The most common color was beer bottle brown, then green, and then white. Some of the white was more frosted than the others. A friend of ours found a piece of dark blue glass, which we decided was actually half of a glass bead. My husband found a lovely pieces of well-tumbled lavender. I also found a really pale blue but fairly clear and sharp piece. The not-sharp-enough-to-cut pieces got thrown back.

My husband liked to make a game of trying to figure out what kind of bottle a piece came from. The brown and black ones are easy enough to guess, but we could think of any drinks for the lavender piece. We finally supposed it might have been a decorative or perfume bottle.

06-20-2014, 01:09 AM
The hard part is access. We hunt on private beaches outside of Cleveland. It seems an industrialized city on the water with a history of dumping is good for beach glass.

I suggested the tumbler, my wife gave me the stink eye.

Happy hunting.


06-20-2014, 04:44 AM
I always find beach glass where I live (Southwest Florida...) :)

Really? I'd be interested to know which beaches you go to, because I love finding beach glass and might check them out. I typically hang out at Siesta, Lido, Nokomis and Venice (mostly Siesta, since it's right down the street).

06-20-2014, 05:13 AM
I've found that very pebbly/rocky beaches are best for it, at least the smaller pieces. I find looking for it very relaxing-- a feeling of intense focus but without any pressure. Sometimes it's hard to see any at first but once you get going you see lots, like stars. I rarely find pieces bigger than pieces of gravel, at least these days (I seem to remember having more big pieces as a kid twenty years ago, but it was a different coast as well as a while ago). I've always found green most commonly, then clear and brown. I have a couple lovely pieces that are a deep cobalt blue and one or two that are lavender like the poster above me mentioned. I never spend all that long on it, maybe 20 minutes, and can usually go home with a small handful of the little pieces.

ETA: The beach I've gone to most the last five years has been in Nova Scotia, though I recall it being similar in Cornwall (UK).