Not all glassware is created equally. Some common terms you’re likely to come across in your search that relate to the durability of the glass are Standard (or Annealed Glass), Fully-Tempered, and Rim-Tempered.
Annealed glass is cooled slowly to remove internal stress, which makes it durable when exposed to temperature change, like in the dishwasher. However, when it breaks, it shatters into several pieces, which can result in injury and a bear to cleanup. This is usually the most economical (up front), value option of glassware.
Fully-Tempered glass has been more processed than annealed glass, increasing its strength and making it less prone to breakage. When it does break, it breaks in chunks instead of shattering into hundreds of shards.
Rim-Tempered glass means that a certain area (usually near the rim) is made of tempered glass, but not the whole glass itself. A lot of glasses break by tipping over, where the rim takes the full impact, so rim-tempered offers more protection against that. If you’re on a budget, this is a nice halfway point between annealed and fully-tempered.
Some manufacturers incorporate different, trademarked formulas and guarantees to their glass construction that add extra layers of durability. Some common ones you may come across include:
- Libbey SafeEdge
- Libbey Sheer Rim
- Libbey DurraTuff
- Anchor SureGuard
Care and Maintenance
Just in case it bears repeating, you can never have enough glassware. We cannot emphasize this enough. Having “just enough” might seem okay at the time, but this could hurt you in the long run. Think of it like shoes. If you only own two pairs you wear all the time, they’ll deteriorate quicker.
There are a couple primary reasons glassware breaks (aside from accidental drops). The first is called mechanical shock. Every clank adds up. Mechanical shock is the direct result of the glass coming in contact with another object, like flatware, a beer tap, other glasses, etc. This causes miniscule abrasions that may be invisible to the eye, but nonetheless weaken the glass. Over time the glass becomes susceptible to breakage from impact or thermal shock.
Thermal shock is another common reason why glasses break. This occurs when a glass experiences a sudden change of temperature, like when it is immediately put back into use after coming out of the dishwasher. To reduce the risk of thermal shock, do not put glasses that have held ice immediately in the dishwasher. Let them settle to room temperature first. This is true in reverse too. When removing a load from the dishwasher, let them cool down to normal temperature before reinstating into service. Always avoid putting cold water into a hot glass.
Here are some additional dos and don’ts to help enhance the life expectancy of your glassware:
- Avoid putting silverware in glasses, banging the feet of stemware together on overhead racks, “boqueting” or lacing too many pieces of stemware between fingers, clanking the bowls of wine or martini glasses together, and smacking the lip of a beer glass against the tap. This can all result in mechanical shock. The less clanking, the longer the lifespan.
- Allow your glasses plenty of time to cool after removing from the dishwasher. Don’t immediately place a glass in the wash after having served a cold beverage.
- It’s good practice to pre-heat a glass with hot water prior to pouring a hot drink.
- Do not stack non-stackable glasses. When stacking stackable glasses, it is better to lay them all on their sides instead of stacking on top because there is less force.
- Always use a plastic scoop for ice and never the glass itself.
- Always handle glasses gently, and immediately remove abraded, cracked, or chipped glassware from service.
- Not all glass racks are the same. The right one depends on the type of glassware you’re using. Stemmed glass racks are different than tumbler racks.