Beach Glass Beginner Guide

Beach glass, or sea glass that’s formed on freshwater beaches, sprinkles Lake Erie’s shores. Learn how it’s created and follow our tips to find your own. 

When visiting the Great Lakes, beachcombers are often pleasantly surprised to find a sparkle among the rocks and pebbles that line the shore. Over time, Mother Nature gives us a lesson in recycling and transforms discarded glass into coveted gems known as beach glass. (Along the ocean, these pieces are called sea glass.)

The Making of Beach Glass

Often taking decades to smooth, shards of glass tumble among the rocks and sand at the bottom of the lake and eventually wash ashore. Where the glass originated is anyone’s guess. It can originate from Depression glass, beer bottles, or even old boat lights. The most common colors are shades of green, blue, white, and brown.

How to Find

When searching for beach glass, locals advise turning away from the sun. This makes it easier to identify the shimmer. The gems are easiest to spot in the groups of small-medium pebbles. If you hunt along the shore where the stones are wet, the colors in the glass will stand out.

Take or Toss?

As a general rule, pieces with sharp edges are not yet ready to be “harvested,” and should be tossed back into the lake. Many believe that the best time to spot beach glass is after a storm when the rocks have been churned up, or early in the morning after a night of waves pushing the pebbles around.

Celebrate Beach Glass

Each year, Ashtabula Harbor pays homage to these gifts from the lake at the annual Beach Glass Festival. Local artisans sell jewelry and magnificent pieces of art made from their shoreline finds. The festival is always the last weekend in June, but you can find upcoming events any time of the year with our calendar.

Find a public beach to visit here. We can’t wait to see what treasures from the deep you find when visiting our beautiful Lake Erie shore. Be sure to post and tag us #bula. Happy treasure hunting!

Categorized Under: Outdoors Lake Erie Fun Things to Do