Virtually unbreakable glassware is made three ways; by tempering, annealing, or using molecular infusion of metals like titanium. These processes create extremely break-resistant drinking glasses in different ways. None are truly “unbreakable” under high or repeated impact, but they do withstand far more abuse than standard glass drinking glasses.
If real glass is your preference, start your search with the brands we feature below. All are proven performers in the restaurant and bar industry and, of course, are dishwasher-safe and BPA-free.
1. Tempered Glasses: The Closest Thing to Unbreakable Glassware
Tempered glass strategically applies heat to glasses during production and creates a very resilient product. It’s the closest thing to unbreakable glass you’ll find, though repeated impacts can cause breakage. The most notable benefit of tempered glassware is ultra-strong rims and bases that resist chipping, even when stacked.
The Duralex factory in France invented the tempering process for glassware and its Picardie Glassware line 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.
Here’s a look at how Duralex tempered glass items handle impact — including Picardie glassware (toward the end):
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.
Libbey is another huge glassware manufacturer that makes a fully tempered line called DuraTuff.
Cardinal Arcoroc is another terrific tempered glassware line that’s made for restaurants and bars, but sold in smaller retail packs.
2. Annealed Glasses: A Break-Resistant Glassware Option
Annealing is another heat-treat process that produces durable, break-resistant glassware. The process involves a controlled cooling stage which reduces the internal molecular stresses common to plain glassware. The result is a more durable glass which, if broken, cleaves into a few large pieces rather than hundreds of razor-sharp shards.
Annealed glassware also lends itself to more decorative designs, as seen in Libbey’s colorful Aruba collection.
Of course, there are plenty of everyday option in annealed glassware, too, like the top-selling Libbey Gibralter glassware line.
Tempered vs. Annealed Glassware
Here’s a great example of the differences in durability and breakage between tempered and annealed glassware.
As the video shows, annealed glass breaks more readily, while tempered glassware withstands some pretty intense abuse. If a tempered glass does break, you get many small, but not terribly sharp, pieces. This is why tempered glass is often used for safety glass in windows, cars, and even display cases, as well as virtually unbreakable glassware. If you do eventually break your tempered glassware, it’s easy to just sweep 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 with added durability over regular crystal. Using this method, many fine stemware and crystal manufacturers are entering the unbreakable glassware market.
The infusion process creates very tough, break-resistant glassware that withstands everyday knocks, bumps, spills and even drops. That means it survives being tipped over on tables, shuffled about in the sink and clanked in the dishwasher — situations where regular stemware often meets its 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, yet offer the same gorgeous clarity of classic leaded crystal.
That’s a Wrap
Now don’t be fooled, “unbreakable glassware” isn’t truly unbreakable like many high-end plastic glasses. But, certain types of real glassware — tempered glass, annealed glassware, and titanium-infused crystal — are far tougher and more impact-proof than standard glassware.
Not surprisingly, these remarkably sturdy unbreakable glassware options work beautifully in busy homes. So if you like the durability of plastic, but don’t like the idea of using plastic glasses day-to-day, unbreakable — or 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 find options for colorful, decorative, and specialty glassware.
Have any questions or want to share your experiences with unbreakable glassware? Please share in the comments below. Thanks for reading. Cheers! Krista