Let’s be frank!
Most of us are unaware of the different types of glass available. It is only when you have to select one for your home or commercial premises; you come to know that there are so many variants available.
Many of us just believe that glass can be opaque or transparent. However, the tint and color of glass can vary depending on its type. This is where Low iron glass and clear glass come into the picture.
On the face of it, differences might seem minuscule, but choosing the wrong one among them can prove to be disastrous. That is why I will compare Low Iron Vs Clear Glass to help you understand more about them.
What Is Low Iron Glass?
Low iron glass consists of silica as the primary ingredient and very little iron. The reason why a small amount of iron is used is to eliminate the bluish tint. Usually, when you opt for the traditional glass, especially of higher thickness, it consists of this tint. To provide clarity, the lower iron glass is used.
Wondering how low the iron content is?
The extent of ferric oxide is 10 times less than the regular glass. Due to the same, the clarity which this class offers you is much higher.
Common Low Iron Glass Uses
One thing you cannot ignore about low iron glass is its versatility. Once you go through the applications below, it is easy to understand how versatile it is.
Aquariums need glass which provides excellent clarity but also can be thicker. That is why low iron glass is used in aquariums.
Similarly, display cases also require clarity, and therefore this glass is used in them.
Have you ever observed a glass floor?
It is thick but extremely clear as well. This is another application of low iron glass. Usually, the type of low iron glass used to make glass floors is a tough and laminated one. Since it can handle more weight and pressure than the regular lower iron glass, this is the variant in use.
These days glass balustrades are becoming pretty common. They also need toughened glass. For the same, low iron glass is used. Since it is thicker than the regular glass, the amount of sturdiness is excellent. Also, with almost no tint, it allows most of the light through, which is why this glass is used.
Glass fins are becoming more and more common as well. These fins are made from low-iron glass. They are often in use with vertical glass units.
Once again, the toughened low iron glass is in use in this application. Also, with low iron toughened glass, the installation is easy. That is another reason why low iron glass is used while manufacturing fins.
Advantages of Low Iron Glass
Once you understand the advantages, it is easy to figure out why it’s so popular.
Since you have already gone through the applications of low iron glass, you will know how versatile it is. When a glass can be used in so many different applications, its popularity is unavoidable.
Whether you want to buy this glass for low-end applications or high-end applications, there are multiple variants of this type of glass available.
For example, when installing it in the aquarium, toughened glass might not be necessary. In premium quality applications, toughened low iron glass can serve you well.
With different types available to cater to various applications, you cannot go wrong with this type of glass.
Excellent Light Transmittance
Very few people might know that low iron glass transmits 91.5% of the light which falls on it. Due to the same, it is almost crystal clear. That is why it is frequently used in aquariums and manufacturing display cases.
Disadvantages of Low Iron Glass
Of course, every type of glass has a disadvantage — this one too.
The cost is higher when you compare it with clear glass. While it is not like some of the other glass variants but needless to say, it is high. When you’re working on large projects like glass floors, a slight increase in cost can increase your budget significantly. Keep this in mind before you go with low-iron glass.
What Is Clear Glass?
As the name suggests, Clear glass provides complete transparency and does not have any tint. That is why; you can easily view the objects on the other side of the glass.
You might think that the iron content in clear glass would be lower than in low iron glass. However, that’s not true!
That is why, even with clear glass, you will notice a greenish tint. At the same time, this might not be that peculiar in low thickness clear glass sheets, but as the thickness increases, the tint increases.
Common Standard Clear Glass Uses
Chances are you might have already seen clear glass in use. I will cover the applications below.
The panes which you see around you are usually made from clear glass. Clear glass is in use, whether it is the 4mm thickness pane or the 5mm one. One of the common applications of clear glass is the windows.
Another application of clear glass is the mirrors. Whether you look at the freestanding mirrors or the mirrors in the wardrobe doors, most of them are made from clear glass.
The glass that you usually see in any piece of furniture is clear glass. That means glass used in the wardrobes, dressing tables, side tables, and so on.
Shower screens are also manufactured using clear glass. Of course, they might use tempered or toughened glass, but the primary type of glass in use is clear glass.
Many homeowners might have kitchen splashbacks at their homes. These also constitute clear glass.
Advantages of Clear Glass
Once you understand the advantages of clear glass, its significance will be clear.
Increases Space Perception
When you have see-through glass in your bathroom, the perception of space in the bathroom increases. It is one of the primary reasons why clear glass is used in modern decor.
Another reason is that it increases the propagation of light, making the space look bigger.
Most modern interior designers will advise you to opt for clear glass wherever possible. That is because it looks trendier and goes pretty well with the modern decor.
Also, since it is in trend, if you decide to sell your home a few years down the line, the prospective buyer will certainly be impressed with the decor.
The trendy appearance of clear glass is another reason it makes sense to go with this glass type.
Brightens the Surrounding
What happens when a space is illuminated better?
Of course, it will look brighter. Coupled with the extra sense of space that clear glass provides, it is easy to understand why it can brighten the surroundings.
While other materials or glass types might obstruct the light, they won’t.
Even if you have a single light source in your bathroom, it will propagate that light over the maximum area. That way, it becomes effortless to brighten your bathroom and any other area in your home.
Disadvantages of Clear Glass
Nevertheless, it has a disadvantage well.
Requires More Cleaning
Chances are when you opt for a shower door made from clear glass, you might have to clean it frequently. Clear glass is susceptible to smudging as well as water spots. That is especially the case when it is exposed to hard water.
Low Iron Glass vs. Clear Glass: What Is the Difference Between Them?
Now that you know what low iron and clear glass are, it is time to look at the differences between them.
Of course, the most apparent differences are in the amount of ferric oxide present. When speaking about ferric oxide in clear glass, it is usually 0.1%. This might seem on the lower side.
Wait until you find out how much ferric oxide is present in the low iron glass. The percentage of ferric oxide in low iron glass is 0.01%.
The reason iron percentage in glass matters is because it decides the color of the glass. Apart from that, the lower the amount of ferric oxide, the higher the cost as silica will be predominantly used in such glass types.
For starters, however, you need to understand that the amount of iron is much lower in the low iron glass.
When you observe low iron glass, you will realize that it does not have any tint. Thus, it is perfect for commercial applications. Because it does not consist of any tint, it is aesthetically pleasing as well.
Apart from that, the no-color design ensures that you will be able to use it with any decor without having to worry about it standing out like a sore thumb.
If you want to paint your glass, then the low iron glass is the perfect choice since the colors of the paint will be visible. The tint of the glass will not clash with the paint color.
On the other hand, clear glass has a significantly high iron content. That is why; you will notice a blue or green tint on it. As you increase the thickness of clear glass, this tint increases. It does not bode well for the aesthetic appeal of the clear glass.
Another problem is with the edges of clear glass. In cases of thick glass panes, the edges appear almost black. That can undoubtedly stand out among your decor and, in fact, deteriorate the entire decor.
If you’re looking to paint clear glass, you have to be pretty careful with the colors. They should go well with the natural tint of clear glass. Only then your painting will look good enough.
This color difference is one of the primary distinctions between low iron and clear glass.
Iron content in a glass type has a significant impact on the transmittance of light. When it comes to low iron light, it can support transmittance of 91%. That is why; it is as good as entirely transparent.
If you have gone through the applications of low iron glass above, it is generally used in applications where high visibility is needed. That is only possible due to the low iron levels. That is how high the transmittance of low iron glass can be. It is difficult to find low-iron glass with less than 90% visibility.
With the thickness of low iron glass increasing, there might be some fall in light transmission, but the thinner ones can easily propagate light through them to provide you with excellent visibility.
While comparing the light transmittance of low iron glass and clear glass, take into account the glass panes of the same thickness and, after that, understand the difference.
Clear glass usually has light transmittance capability, which is approximately 6% lower than low iron glass. That is why it has a blurring effect. While you still might be able to make out the things on the other side but extreme clarity is not on offer. That is why, for observational applications, clear glass is not in use.
The light transmission capability of both glass types is why their applications vary so much.
UV Rays Transmission
The above light transmittance I was speaking about is light in the visible spectrum. However, light frequencies also fall in the UV spectrum apart from that. If you are aware of the negative effects of UV rays, you would, of course, like to know which one blocks UV rays better.
Before starting, UV rays have a frequency between 150 to 3300 nm.
Simply put, low iron glass reduces the number of UV rays that penetrate through. However, it does not entirely block the UV rays. Neither does clear glass.
While comparing the UV transmittance rate, it is good to compare the glass types with the same thickness. Only then do you get a clear picture.
The transmittance rate of clear glass can be as high as 90% when it comes to UV rays. However, the transmittance rate of low iron glass can be as low as 84%.
Of course, even 84% is not that great, but if you have to choose between one, the one which blocks the most UV rays is undoubtedly a good choice.
On this parameter, the low iron glass is a clear winner.
It is essential to consider the cost of both glasses. Only when you do that can you choose one.
When comparing one against the other, you will realize that a low-iron one is almost 25% more expensive than clear glass. That is because the amount of silica that goes into the low iron glass is higher. Apart from that, the manufacturing process of low iron glass is specialized, which also increases the cost.
If you’re very particular about the cost of glass and do not mind the light transmittance, you can go with clear glass. It is especially true when you need to buy glass in bulk. Then, a 25% cost difference between the glass variants can certainly create a spike in the entire project’s cost.
I would like to clarify that when comparing similar variants of low iron and clear glass, the structural integrity they offer is almost similar. That is why; durability is almost the same as well.
Keeping this in mind, if you do not specifically need the properties of low iron glass, clear glass is a cheaper alternative.
If you plan to use glass in any application for years together, you have to consider the glass’s scratch resistance. Only when the glass resists scratches for a long time, it is worth opting for.
When it comes to low iron glass, it does not pass this test. While it is not prone to scratches but when you compare it with clear glass, you will realize that it is scratch-resistant is slightly lower.
The reason for the same is the high amount of silica in the low iron glass. That is not resistant to scratches, and therefore, when you compare the number of scratches that each of the glass types will suffer from in the same conditions, the low iron glass will suffer from more scratches.
To be completely clear, clear glass is not immune to scratches. However, the iron content in clear glass certainly reduces the number of scratches it suffers.
There is, however, a solution to this problem.
When you search for low-iron glass or clear glass on the Internet, you will realize that they come along with special coatings. These coatings ensure that they do not suffer from scratches. Rather than buying the basic variant, if you go with these variants, which have special coatings, you need not worry about scratches any longer.
Glass does not need much maintenance. However, you still need to clean it from time to time. Depending on the type of glass you are using, the cleaning frequency might vary.
The good news is that low iron glass is not susceptible to smudging or fingerprints or hard water spots. Sure enough, they occur but not at the same frequency as in clear glass.
Needless to say, clear glass requires more cleaning. For example, if you’re dealing with the installation in a commercial space, clear glass might require you to clean the glass every 3 to 4 days. On the other hand, the low iron glass will require you to clean the glass only once a week.
You might think, what difference it makes?
When you need to clean large surface areas, it can make a difference in terms of the effort needed and the cost of cleaning the glass frequently.
In a nutshell, if you need low-maintenance glass, a low iron one is your best bet.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is low-iron glass tempered?
Yes, you can easily buy low iron glass in the tempered variant. While not every type of low iron glass is tempered, there is a variant that offers you the same. The strength of this type of glass is on the higher side, and therefore it is used in premium applications.
2. What is low iron toughened glass?
Low iron toughened glass is a highly versatile type of glass that provides you with excellent visibility, and its thickness can vary between 4 MM to 15 MM. The glass is heated till 650°C and, after that, rapidly cooled. That is what is unique in this toughened glass.
3. What is clear glass made of?
Clear glass is made using silica, sodium oxide, calcium oxide, limestone, ferric oxide, Dolomite, and feldspar. These are the usual ingredients that go into the manufacturing of clear glass.
4. Does the tint of low iron glass fade over time?
Usually speaking, the tint of the low iron glass does not fade over time. It does not increase either. As long as the glass is in perfect shape, the tint will remain the same.
5. Is the procedure to clean low iron and clear glass the same?
Yes, you can use any commercial glass cleaner to clean both of these types of glass. Along with that, you can use a microfibre cloth.
If the glass is used in commercial applications, you can use commercial brushes and rollers to clean it. There is no significant difference between the procedure to clean both of them.
6. Among low iron and clear glass, which is easier to install?
These days, most of the fabrication and cutting of the glass is done using machines. That is why both of them are easy to install as long as you have the proper specifications at hand.
There is no need to get confused between Low iron glass vs clear glass while choosing a glass type for your premises. Merely go through my comparison above, and you will understand what each glass type has on offer.
For example, low iron glass is a good choice when you’re looking for glass without any tint and provides complete transparency. If you’re looking for a glass type with higher scratch resistance, go with clear glass.
Thus, a lot depends on the exact application and your requirements. Nevertheless, the guide above can help you out with that as well.