Reusable soda–lime glass milk bottles
made from soda-lime flat glass, Jena
: The distorted reflections of a tree indicate that the flat glass was possibly not made by the float glass
Soda–lime glass, also called soda–lime–silica glass, is the most prevalent type of glass, used for windowpanes and glass containers (bottles and jars) for beverages, food, and some commodity items. Some glass bakeware is made of soda-lime glass, as opposed to the more common borosilicate glass. Soda–lime glass accounts for about 90% of manufactured glass.
Soda–lime glass is relatively inexpensive, chemically stable, reasonably hard, and extremely workable. Because it can be resoftened and remelted numerous times, it is ideal for glass recycling. It is used in preference to chemically-pure silica, which is silicon dioxide (SiO2), otherwise known as fused quartz. Whereas pure silica has excellent resistance to thermal shock, being able to survive immersion in water while red hot, its high melting temperature (1723 °C) and viscosity make it difficult to work with. Other substances are therefore added to simplify processing. One is the "soda", or sodium carbonate (Na2CO3), which lowers the glass-transition temperature. However, the soda makes the glass water-soluble, which is usually undesirable. To provide for better chemical durability, the "lime" is also added. This is calcium oxide (CaO), generally obtained from limestone. In addition, magnesium oxide (MgO) and alumina, which is aluminium oxide (Al2O3), contribute to the durability. The resulting glass contains about 70 to 74% silica by weight.
The manufacturing process for soda–lime glass consists in melting the raw materials, which are the silica, soda, lime (in the form of (Ca(OH)2), dolomite (CaMg(CO3)2, which provides the magnesium oxide), and aluminium oxide; along with small quantities of fining agents (e.g., sodium sulfate (Na2SO4), sodium chloride (NaCl), etc.) in a glass furnace at temperatures locally up to 1675 °C. The temperature is only limited by the quality of the furnace structure material and by the glass composition. Relatively inexpensive minerals such as trona, sand, and feldspar are usually used instead of pure chemicals. Green and brown bottles are obtained from raw materials containing iron oxide. The mix of raw materials is termed batch.
Soda–lime glass is divided technically into glass used for windows, called flat glass, and glass for containers, called container glass. The two types differ in the application, production method (float process for windows, blowing and pressing for containers), and chemical composition. Flat glass has a higher magnesium oxide and sodium oxide content than container glass, and a lower silica, calcium oxide, and aluminium oxide content. From the lower content of highly water-soluble ions (sodium and magnesium) in container glass comes its slightly higher chemical durability against water, which is required especially for storage of beverages and food.