Besides white clear and kelly green, the other most common type of sea glass found on beaches is brown.
Most brown sea glass comes from bottles and comes in three shades: brown, amber, and light amber.
It’s easier to recognize the shades of brown sea glass if you hold up a shard to the sun or place it infront of a light.
Why is There So Much Brown Sea Glass
There are two main reasons for the proliferation of brown sea glass: In the past, brown glass was easier to produce in large quantities than clear glass, and because brown glass was dark it protected the contents in the bottle from the harsh effects of the sun.
Sources of Brown Sea Glass
Most brown sea glass comes from beer and wine bottles. Today, the production of brown glass is common for liquor. Most shards people find likely come from beer bottles. Other sources of brown glass include old Clorox bottles, bitters, and whiskey bottles.
How common is brown sea glass?
According to Richard LaMotte in his book Pure Sea Glass: Discovering Nature’s Vanishing Gems, sea glass hunters will collect approximately three to four pieces of brown sea glass out of every 10 pieces they find.
That’s quite a few brown sea glass shards; however, says LaMotte, a “thick squared” brown piece might be from an “antique bitters or whiskey bottle.” Smaller and thinner corners on a shard could mean it’s from an antique medicine bottle. As with most other sea glass, dense bubbles inside the shard suggest it could be dated before the 1920s.
Even though brown sea glass is common, it’s still beautiful.
Amber Sea Glass
Amber sea glass has a reddish-brown hue and can easily be mistaken for brown. The best way to tell if you’ve found an amber shard is to hold it next to a brown shard infront of a light. Many earlier amber bottles of glass were used for liquor and for Clorox bottles.
Amber Brown Sea Glass
Honey colored golden amber bottles were also mainly used for liquor. Most of these shards were produced during the late 19th century and early 20th century. Many sea glass collectors say amber shards are the least common among the browns.
Brown sea glass can be easily spotted on the beach because it usually stands out among the rocks and seashells.