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Glass chemistry is a complex science that is beyond the goals of this website and will not be pursued here.For one who wishes to pursue this subject, Tooley's (editor & one of the chapter authors) 1953 book "Hand Book of Glass Manufacture Volume 1 - A book of reference for the plant executive, technologist and engineer" is recommended though possibly hard to find.As noted on Greg Spurgeon's fruit jar oriented website there is no "governing authority" on glass or bottle colors (Spurgeon 2004).(Note: Spurgeon's excellent fruit jar color information webpage is located at the following URL: There always has been and will continue to be confusion as to color nomenclature even though many attempts have been made to try to standardize it.With higher amounts of iron or higher oxidation of the iron, darker greens will usually occur (Toulouse 1969a; Jones & Sullivan 1989)).
As implied in the quote above, there are some time related trends in color that can be of utility for dating. The specific "diagnostic utility" of a given color is noted in the descriptions below.Glass composition formulas were (and probably still are) closely held glassmaker secrets as the experience of extensive trial and error experimentation in glass making was not readily shared with others.Variations in glass color resulted from a myriad of different causes including the strata of the sand source, the mineral in the soil of the of the trees burned to produce "potash" (an "flux" alternative to soda), and many others known and unknown (Toulouse 1969a).This is done by adding certain types of compounds to the glass batch in certain quantities.Bottles made from glass with just the basic ingredients (sand, soda & lime) will usually be different shades of green because of the iron impurities in the sand, though other colors can also be attained depending on many factors.
Even the same bottle to the same person can vary widely in color depending on differing lighting situations - direct and indirect sunlight out in the field, fluorescent lights in the office, and incandescent lights at home.