Virtually unbreakable glassware is made one of three ways; by tempering, annealing, or using molecular infusion of glass and metal — usually titanium. Each produces extremely break-resistant drinking glasses. While none are truly “unbreakable” under high or repeat impact, they withstand far more abuse compared to standard glass drinking glasses.
If you prefer real glass over plastic drinkware, you can start your search with the durable glassware brands highlighted below. 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!
Looking for truly unbreakable drinkware? Plastic is still the most sure-fire solution. Find top-rated picks in our unbreakable plastic glasses and plastic wine glasses reviews if you want to explore that option.
1. Tempered Glasses: The Closest Thing to Unbreakable 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 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, and 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 tends 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.
Of course, there are plenty of everyday options in annealed glassware, too, like the top-selling Libbey Gibraltar glassware line. This line is widely used in restaurants and bars.
Tempered vs. Annealed Glassware
This video from the Cardinal Arcoroc drinkware factory illustrates the differences in durability and breakage between tempered and annealed glassware.
You can see that the annealed glass breaks faster than the tempered glass. When the tempered glass does break, it shatters into many small pieces. However, these aren’t terribly sharp. This is why tempered glass used for safety glass in windows, cars, and things like display cases. If you do happen to 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 that far more durable than plain glass or crystal. Many fine stemware and crystal manufacturers are using this method to enter 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 usually 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 lead crystal.
Other Unbreakable 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 and Zulu. Both are on the silicone-coated glassware bandwagon and offer stylish alternatives 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 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