Looking for a family friendly activity to do Up North?
A fun adventure for adults and kids is exploring area beaches for Beach glass.
Beach glass (also known as Mermaid tears) can be found along the Great Lakes shoreline and is broken shards of glass that have been smoothed as the result of years of tumbling and rubbing against rocks and sand in fresh water. After years of tumbling in the Great Lakes which acts like a giant rock tumbler the once sharp pieces are ground down and rounded. Some will still have the translucent color; others take on a softer frosted look.
Where does it all come from? Mostly, the glass has been discarded into the water on purpose from commercial and recreational boats, old factories that were on the shorelines and years ago from trash being dumped in the lake.
Beach Glass Colors
The color of beach glass is determined by the source and will be the same color it was before it was in the water. However, there are exceptions. A clear glass piece containing manganese will turn amethyst in color when exposed to the sun. More manganese, the more purple the glass gets. The most common colors are various shades of white, brown and light blue with green, dark blue and purple being rare. Finding red beach glass is exceedingly rare.
Glass or Pebble?
How can you tell if you have found is beach glass or just a pebble? At times it is hard to tell the difference between certain pebbles and beach glass. The easiest way to tell is to wet it thoroughly and you will be able to see more light through the glass evening and it will be noticeably clear. There are exceptions, milk glass, jadeite, insulators, some marbles, ceramics, and other semi-transparent glass are not clear, but still considered beach glass if the edges have been smoothed by the water.
When and where to look for Beach Glass
The best time to find beach glass is early spring after the ice on the Great Lakes has melted along the shore. Each year as the ice is broken up and the winds push the ice in different directions, it pushes a new crop of beach glass towards the shores. After big storms in the summer is a great time too. The big storm stir up the water and the waves wash away sand that may be hiding these treasures. Those wild waves mean lots of fun beach finds, so as soon as the crazy storm subsides you should head to the beach.
Display your finds is clear vases, adding to potted plants or making jewelry or other keepsakes. Glue a magnet on the back and stick it on your fridge as a fun reminder of your day at the beach.
Watch for more facts and adventures in Northern Michigan!