It’s referred to by different names: Vaseline, UV, ultraviolet, and uranium sea glass, but what is it?
Because it was produced with the element uranium, Vaseline or UV sea glass is glass that’s easily recognized as it glows under a black or ultraviolet light. The more uranium the sea glass contains, the brighter it will glow under a black light. However, Vaseline or UV sea glass contains only up to 2% uranium, which is such a small amount that experts say it’s not considered harmful to humans.
What Was Vaseline and UV Glass Used For
Vaseline and UV glass was mainly used for everyday household glassware. The main production periods for Vaseline and UV glass were during the late 1800s and up until the World War II when the use of uranium for the production of glass was prohibited.
Vaseline glassware, however, is produced today and is still in high demand, but the increased costs of uranium make it expensive.
Because it’s such a rare find, consider yourself lucky if you find any Vaseline sea glass.
How to Identify Vaseline, UV Sea Glass
To the naked eye, most Vaseline or UV sea glass appears clear with a soft pale green or yellow tint, so it’s hard to spot it on the beach unless you have a portable black or ultraviolet light to help you identify it.
The photos above and below show the different appearance of Vaseline and UV Sea Glass under a black light and in natural light.
While most Vaseline glass casts a bright neon green glow under a black light, Depression glass and other specialty glass made prior to WW II will have a lighter softer and sometimes yellow glow because it was usually produced with iron and has less uranium than true Vaseline glass.
Vaseline, UV Sea Glass and Regular Sea Glass Look Similar in Natural Light
Below is a photograph of the same Vaseline and UV sea glass in natural light next to sea glass that does not contain uranium. TheVaseline and UV sea glass is on the left. As you can see, it’s difficult to tell the difference between both in natural light, though many experienced sea glass collectors will identity it more easily.
You can also see that UV sea glass comes in other colors too like red and milk glass. These colors, however, are extremely rare.
How to Find Vaseline, UV Sea Glass
Unless you have a portable black or ultraviolet light or you are an experience collector, it’s difficult to spot vaseline, UV sea glass on the beach. After you’re done collecting sea glass, you should check all the shards you find under a black light to check for any that glow.
If you’ve had no luck finding any Vaseline or UV sea glass on the beach, you can purchase some on sites like eBay or Etsy. It tends to be expensive, especially if it’s a larger piece with few or no flaws. If you’re going to buy UV or Vaseline sea glass, be sure to check the sellers’ feedback and be sure the seller states it’s genuine or authentic surf-tumbled Vaseline or UV sea glass.