Virtually unbreakable drinking glasses are made one of three ways; by tempering, annealing, or using a molecular infusion of glass and metal such as titanium. Each method produces extremely break-resistant glass drinking glasses. While no glass is truly “unbreakable” under high impact, glasses made using these methods withstand far more abuse than standard glass drinking glasses.
Looking for truly unbreakable drinking glasses?
Plastic is still the sure-fire solution and many brands deliver the look and feel of glass without the worry of breakage. You can find top-rated picks in our reviews of unbreakable plastic glasses and plastic wine glasses if you want to explore options in plastic.
Prefer real glass over plastic drinkware?
Below, you’ll find several durable glassware brands to check out. All are proven performers in the restaurant and bar industry, so they can certainly withstand the knocks and bumps of any busy home. Of course, they’re all dishwasher-safe and BPA-free, too.
1. Tempered Glassware: The Closest Thing to Unbreakable Drinking Glasses
Picardie tempered glassware is made by Duralex, a French company that invented the tempering process for glassware.
Tempering is a heat-treating process that creates very resilient glassware and the closest thing to unbreakable glasses that you’ll find. However, excessive force and repeat impact can still cause tempered glasses to break. The most notable benefit of tempered glassware is ultra-strong rims and bases that resist chipping — even when stacked — making it popular for bar and restaurant use.
The Duralex factory in France invented the tempering process for glassware and its Picardie Glassware line of glassware sets is the top seller among tempered lines. It’s used in restaurants, cafes, and bars worldwide and also sold in retail sets for home use.
Bormioli Rocco is another major brand making resilient, nearly unbreakable glassware using the tempering technique. Again, tempered glass is not guaranteed unbreakable under unusual or repeated impact. But like Picardie, Bormioli Rocco tempered glassware is a proven player in restaurants and bars worldwide and available in retail packs for home use.
Other Tempered Glassware Brands
Libbey is another huge glassware manufacturer that makes a durable tempered glassware line called DuraTuff, which has proven itself for years in busy bars and restaurants. Cardinal‘s Arcoroc line is another terrific tempered glassware line that’s made for restaurants and bars and is also available in smaller retail packs.
2. Annealed Glasses: A Break-Resistant Glassware Option
Annealing is another heat-treated process that produces durable, break-resistant glassware. Annealing glass involves a controlled cooling stage which reduces the molecular stress and fracture points common to plain glassware. The result is very durable glassware that, if broken, cleaves into a few large pieces rather than hundreds of razor-sharp shards.
Annealed glassware sets tend to be less expensive than tempered glassware, so you can find it in decorative styles and designs, as seen in Libbey’s colorful Aruba collection and tried-and-true Gibralter line.
Tempered vs. Annealed Glasses
While both tempered and annealed glass are great choices for unbreakable drinking glasses, annealed glass breaks faster than tempered glass.
When tempered glass does break, it shatters into many small pieces. However, these aren’t sharp. This is why tempered glass is used for safety glass in windows, cars, and things like display cases. If you do happen to break your tempered glassware, it’s generally not dangerous, you just sweep it up.
3. Titanium-infused Unbreakable Glassware
This is a newer process that combines titanium and glass at the molecular level. The result is a very strong lead-free crystal glass that supports lightweight, thinner-wall designs that are far more durable than plain glass or crystal. Many fine stemware and crystal manufacturers are using this method to enter the “unbreakable” glassware market.
Schott-Zwiesel and Spiegelau spearheaded the introduction of titanium-infused dishwasher-safe crystal and many other top crystal glassware brands have followed suit.
The infusion process creates rugged, break-resistant glassware sets that withstand everyday knocks, bumps, spills, and even drops. That means it usually survives being tipped over on tables, shuffled about in the sink, and clanked in the dishwasher — situations where regular stemware and thin-walled crystal stemless wine glasses often meet their demise.
The infusion process doesn’t deliver the nearly unbreakable glassware that tempering creates. However, the result is far more durable than regular crystal glassware and fine stemware. Plus, titanium crystal products are completely lead-free, marketed as dishwasher-safe, and offer the same gorgeous clarity as classic lead crystal.
Other Break-Resistant Glassware Options
Silicone-wrapped glassware and portable glass water bottles offer another option if you prefer glass over plastic. Lifefactory Drinkware leads the charge with a huge selection of silicone-covered drinking glasses, water bottles, baby products, and kitchen storage containers.
If silicone-wrapped glassware appeals to you, you’ll also want to check out products from Ello, which offers a full line of silicone-wrapped glass drinkware, baking dishes and pantry storage similar to Lifefactory products. It’s always nice to have a few options!
That's a Wrap
Remember, “unbreakable glassware” isn’t truly unbreakable like many high-end plastic glasses. But, certain types of real glassware like tempered glass, annealed glassware, titanium-infused crystal — and the new silicone-covered styles — are far tougher and more impact-proof than standard glassware.
Not surprisingly, most unbreakable glassware options were originally designed for restaurant and bar use, and work beautifully in busy homes. If you like the durability of plastic, but don’t like the idea of using plastic glasses day-to-day, unbreakable and highly break-resistant glassware is an ideal choice.
If you want more info on proven glassware brands, head over to our review of the best drinking glasses. You’ll recognize a few names covered above, plus you’ll find more options for colorful, decorative, and specialty glassware.
I like the minimalist shape of the Schott Zwiesel, but how does it compare to the Picardie Duralex if dropped on a wooden floor?
Picardie is tougher in my reviews. Both ultimately broke on my ceramic tile floor, but Picardie made it through a few drops. Schott-Zwiesel broke on the first drop. It’s resistant to tabletop and sink tipping, but for drops, Picardie is tougher.
Are the duralex glasses also good for stacking? My husband always stacks our current glasses, especially when coming out of the hot DW. Then they cool an shrink ever so slightly causing them to get stuck together and chips on the rim! I need to replace with something better. I also have my eye on the Pottery Barn cafe glasses. Any reviews on those?
Sorry for the delay in answering! My comments weren’t auto-notifying me – fixed now. I know this is late, but for anyone else with the same question, yes — Duralex stacks — and also yes, they’ll shrink a bit as they cool and that’s exactly what causes stuck glasses. This is actually a HUGE problem in restaurants and why most won’t stack glasses until cool. If you wait until they’re cool before stacking you won’t have the stuck issue. When you do — just run the bottom glass under hot water and it should expand to release the stuck glass.
I’ll check out Pottery Barn’s current collections. I generally like their products, but not every drinkware collection they carry is tempered (or annealed — another method that makes them more durable). If you want chip resistance, you definitely want the tempered glasses like Duralex.
Again! So sorry for the delay in responding, but hopefully this will help someone.
I just started looking into this. This article was very informative and answered all my questions. Great job!
My Duralex glass tipped over and exploded into millions of shards. I’ve read I’m not the only one. Scared, loud and dangerous. Buyer beware.
That’s the typical pattern of breakage for tempered glass. It’s very break-resistant, but when it does break, it does explode into tiny nuggets that tend to be less dangerous (per the experts) than long shards and sharp chunks. It’s the same tempered feature in car safety glass and windshields. Any type of glass can break – plastic is the only drinkware considered truly shatterproof safety-wise.
Soda glass is usually more fragile than borosilicate glass. Borosilicate glass is more heat-stable. Borosilicate glass used to be called Pyrex, until Corning started making glassware labeled “pyrex” out of soda glass. Borosilicate glass is different enough that is is often banned from recycling.
I love the Arcoroc (Cardinal) Granite in the 14 oz. They are truly rugged and I stack them by 2’s in my cupboard. My brothers used them in their restaurant. They take hot liquids very well too. I actually use them for my morning coffee. I have the Duralex Picardie also. They stack ever so slightly better but they don’t have a 14 oz size. You pay slightly more for these types of glasses but they last and ultimately save you money. Also, being stackable they take up less space. You can easily stack about 4 of the 9 oz size.