The Tribune - Spectrum

, February 17, 2002

Sunday Activity

Have a crystal-clear collection

Crystal is made from the same basic material as glass but lead is added
Crystal is made from the same basic material as glass but lead is added

ALL those who possess a good collection of crystal and glassware must have a tough time maintaining it. Not only must crystal ware be handled with care but it can also not be subjected to the usual cleaning methods. To ensure its proper care it is important to understand the subtle difference between glass and crystal.

Glass is made from silica and other materials. It is not affected by the weather nor by most chemicals. Most glassware is easily broken by blows; sometimes hitting it hard only damages the glass invisibly so that later it shatters from just a light impact. Glass is blown or moulded into many shapes for decorative items, and for beverage glasses and other eating and serving dishes.

Crystal is made from the same basic material as glass but lead is added to fine crystal which adds sparkle and strength. Heat-resistant glassware is treated to withstand high temperatures. Such utensils may break when subjected to sudden changes in temperature. Oven-ware is not suitable for top-of-range use as it is not made to stand direct flame heat. Glass ceramics are made from hard crystalline materials which were first used on missile nose cones. Glass ceramics are used for range tops, counter tops, dinnerware, and cookware. The cookware may be used in the oven, under the broiler, on the stove, or in the microwave oven. They are guaranteed by the manufacturer not to break from temperature changes.


Cleaning crystal

Glass is blown or moulded into many shapes for decorative items
Glass is blown or moulded into many shapes for decorative items

Glass flower vases, cruets, or carafes used to hold water, wine, oil or other liquids may develop stains in the bottom when allowed to set for a long time. Normal washing with soap and water may not get off all the stain. To remove these stains, try the following steps:

  • Pour vinegar (brown or white) into glass so as to be above the stain mark.Allow to stand 30 minutes to overnight, depending on intensity of the stain. Before emptying vinegar, add about 1/2 teaspoon dry uncooked rice, or 6-10 dry beans. Shake glass rapidly so hard grains can rub off loosened stain with a scouring action. Pour contents out. Rinse with water. Repeat if necessary.

  • If not all the stain is removed, pour ammonia into the glass to be above stain mark and allow to stand over night. Add rice or beans and shake. Repeat if necessary.

  • If you have crystal vases or carafes, do not leave flowers or food in them any longer than necessary, since chemical changes can occur which permanently stain crystal.

  • To clean cut glass, sprinkle baking soda on a damp rag and clean glass. Rinse with clean water and polish with a soft cloth.

Removing scratches

  • Rub a little toothpaste into the scratch. Normally gel-type pastes are not as effective as regular pastes, so prefer the latter. Polish with a soft cloth.

  • Another method to remove scratches from crystal and other glassware is to mix 1 part dry mustard and 1 part white vinegar into a paste. Apply paste to the scratch. Polish with a soft cloth. Avoid eye contact. Dry mustard can be damaging to the cornea.

Gilt-edged glassware

Some crystal or fine glassware has a gilt design or edge on the rim of glass or as a decorative design or a patterned glass dish. Never soak such items in solutions containing ammonia, washing soda or strong detergents. Never use abrasive cleaning powders. Use regular mild dish-washing detergent and a soft cloth. A precaution would be to rinse such glassware in clear water while food residue is still fresh or soft.

Heat-resistant glass

Mild alkalis, such as ammonia solution, may be used when stronger cleaning is needed. Do not use abrasive scouring powders or other abrasives as they will scratch glass.

Compiled by Chetna Banerjee

Home Top