Beach Glass Treasure Hunt

AUTHOR:  Jennifer Dynas
DATE:  10/26/2020

As the list of states with travel advisories grows, you may be looking for something to do around Western New York. 

beach glass.

Photo obtained from

A friend of mine stated taking daily morning walks on one of our local beaches and collecting beach glass. Beach or sea glass is basically broken bottles or glass that is tossed on the shore and is tumbled in waves until smooth. It can take up to 20-40 (or sometimes up to 100!) years in a constant surf environment for glass to turn into sea glass. A quality piece of sea glass has no shiny spots, is well frosted and has smooth edges. The difference between beach and sea glass is the body of water.  Beach glass comes from fresh water (like our Great Lakes) and sea glass comes from a salty body of water.

beach with sea glass.

Photo obtained from Jennifer Dynas

Looking for Sea Glass is like a Treasure Hunt

The best time to hunt for sea glass is after a storm, when waves will bring the glass onto the shore.  Most sea glass comes from bottles. The most common colors of sea glass are kelly green, brown, white, and clear. These are usually from glass bottles used by companies that sell beer, juices, soft drinks, and other beverages. The clear or white glass comes from clear plates and glasses, windshields, windows, and assorted other sources.

Less common colors include jade, amber (from bottles for whiskey, medicine, spirits, and early bleach bottles), golden amber (mostly used for spirit bottles), lime green (from soda bottles during the 1960s), forest green, and ice- or soft blue (from soda bottles, medicine bottles, ink bottles, and fruit jars from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, windows, and windshields). These colors are found about once for every 25 to 100 pieces of sea glass found.

Uncommon colors of sea glass include a type of green, which comes primarily from early to mid-1900s Coca-Cola, Dr Pepper, and RC Cola bottles as well as beer bottles. Soft green colors could come from bottles that were used for ink, fruit, and baking soda. These colors are found once in every 50 to 100 pieces.

Purple sea glass is very uncommon, as is citron, opaque white (from milk bottles), cobalt and cornflower blue (from early Milk of Magnesia bottles, poison bottles, artwork, Bromo-Seltzer and Vicks VapoRub containers), and aqua (from Ball Mason jars and certain 19th century glass bottles). These colors are found once for every 200 to 1,000 pieces found.

Extremely rare colors include gray, pink (often from Great Depression-era plates), teal (often from Mateus wine bottles), black (older, very dark olive green glass), yellow (often from 1930s Vaseline containers), turquoise (from tableware and art glass), red (often from old Schlitz bottles, car tail lights, dinnerware, or nautical lights, it is found once in about every 5,000 pieces), and orange (the least common type of sea glass, found once in about 10,000 pieces). These colors are found once for every 1,000 to 10,000 pieces collected. Some shards of black glass are quite old, originating from thick eighteenth-century gin, beer, and wine bottles.

(Glass color information from

table with various colors of beach glass on it.

I went with my friend twice in one week. Each day we went early in the morning to a local beach on Lake Erie, near our homes. We found an abundance of sea glass both mornings. On my first day, I actually found a small piece of rare red glass. My friend found an old lipstick from the 1960s that she was able to open and there was still some lipstick in it!  We also found some old pottery pieces as well. She also found a neat piece of light blue glass that has a fish on it.

lipstick from the 1960's.
lipstick from the 1960's.
beach glass with a fish imprint on it.

Photo's of Jennifer Dynas' personal beach glass haul

Connect with Me

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Jennifer Dynas

Assistant Director for Business and Technology


175 Alumni Arena

Phone: 716-645-5097