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August 21, 2018

Sea Glass Hunting In St Ives Cornwall

One of our favourite things to do is go on a seaglass hunt. It is a wonderfully addictive activity that we all enjoy doing. As well as finding sea glass, we look for “tiny finds” which are little lost treasures (also known as other people’s rubbish) that the kids adore.

What Is Sea Glass?

Sea glass is simply glass that has ended up in the sea, broken into tiny pieces, churned up and polished by the waves and deposited on the shore by the tide. A lot of the sea glass we find is from the dumping of unwanted glass by manufacturers many many years ago. They thought it would sink to the bottom of the ocean, never to be seen again. But some of it makes it way to our shores. Some call it rubbish, we call it treasure!

Other sea glass is glass that has fallen off boats or ships. Bottles that have ended up in the sea after a barbecue, things tossed into the sea without much thought!

Is It Okay To Collect Sea Glass?

Yes, it is fine to remove sea glass from the beach (unlike rocks and shells). It is all rubbish from dumping and you are technically doing a beach clean!

How To Tell If Your Sea Glass Is Old?

If your piece of sea glass has a frosted look to it, it is an old piece. Over a long period of time, chemical elements leach out of the glass and react with the outside elements. Small crystals are formed, giving your piece of sea glass a frosted look.

If your piece of sea glass is still clear, it isn’t very old. If it still has sharp edges, it is even newer as it doesn’t take the sea long to wear off the sharp bits. Sadly on St Ives Harbour we are forever picking up clear, sharp bits of green glass – obviously from a beer bottle!

What Colour Is Your Sea Glass?

We get a huge amount of white, green and brown sea glass in St Ives. We do get the odd bit of other coloured sea glass – the bright blue ones cause much delight in our family! Different beaches around the coast have different predominant colours. St Ives is mainly white, Penzance is more brown and green!

Which Are The Best Beaches In St Ives To Collect Sea Glass From?

If you keep your eyes peeled you can find sea glass on most beaches. However, the harbour beach and Porthmeor at the tide line are the best places.

Some Sea Glass Hunting Tips

  • Take small people with you. They have the sharpest eyes and get closer to the ground than us grown ups!
  • The best time for sea glass collecting is after a big storm or a high tide. This washes up a whole new array of treasure!
  • Take a bag to collect your sea glass in. I can speak from experience sea glass in a pocket + washing machine = not a happy washing machine!

What Do You Do With Your Sea Glass?

We take ours home and sort it into little jars. I’ve got a 3 year old who loves to sort the colours. We then make it into various things. We have made shakers, pictures, Christmas decorations. My daughter (7) uses lots of it to make paths in her fairy garden.

For the more arty crafty people among you, you can make some really beautiful works of art with sea glass. Lots of people in St Ives turn it into lovely jewellery and some melt it down to make a sort of stained glass type of art.

Are you a sea glass collector? Which is your best beach to go collecting it on? What is your favourite sea glass colour? What do you do with your sea glass afterwards?




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