A Wooster Glass Co. customer recently traveled all the way from Akron to have a us cut a piece of pyroceramic glass for her fireplace doors. The history of pyroceramic glass is an interesting one, and it involves an accident, cooking, and a manufacturer of glass-based cookware.
Fireplace doors are made using a few kinds of glass. Two of the more popular ones are tempered glass and pyroceramic glass. Wooster Glass Vice President Pat Neyhart says the difference between the two is pyroceramic glass can handle higher temperatures, so it is less susceptible to damage with a hotter fire that is closer to the glass. Tempered glass can generally handle temperatures of around 400-500 degrees Fahrenheit. If the fireplace door has sufficient distance from the fire, it is a good option, and it is more economical than pyroceramic glass.
But, we are getting ahead of ourselves. First, let’s look at how pyroceramic glass came into existence. It is a fascinating story.
Accident leads to discovery of pyroceramic glass
As the story goes, S. Donald Stookey, a physicist and chemist who worked in research and development for Corning Glass Works, had been experimenting with FotoForm glass. He placed a glass dish in a furnace. He was supposed to fire it at 1,100 degrees F. However, because of a malfunction, the temperature inside the oven rose to 1,600 degrees F. Stookey retrieved the glass, figuring it would shatter, but the glass dish slipped, falling to the floor and you know what? The glass didn’t break.
Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. On this day, back in 1952, Stookey, a brilliant physicist and chemist who thought of himself more as an alchemist, discovered a ceramic glass by luck. It became known as pyroceramic glass, and Corning produced it under the name Pyroceram, which is one of the brands Wooster Glass sells.
Interesting uses of pyroceramic glass
Because this glass could be used in ovens at very high temperatures, Corning found a use for it as cookware. Stookey’s accidental discovery led to CorningWare … glass bakeware. On the Corning website, it points out many a lasagna has been baked in a CorningWare dish. The CorningWare line became a multi-million dollar seller for Corning Glass Works.
There had been further experiments with the glass, and some of that research led to the Visions cookware by Corning in the 1970s. If you are not familiar, this cookware set features glass pots, pans and frying pans. You can still purchase Visions cookware today.
Because the glass is so strong and so heat-resistant, it has been used in the cones of guided missiles, Pat said.
Let’s not forget about fireplace doors
Scientists also found another use for pyroceramic glass, namely fireplace doors. As mentioned earlier, tempered glass can do a good job in the right situation, and most fireplace doors are made with this kind of glass. When the fire is burning, it is good to have the doors open to allow the heat to warm up the house. But, there can be an issue with sparks flying out of the fireplace and some want to close the doors and just have the ambient heat. Tempered glass is a good choice if there is enough distance between the fire and the fireplace doors. Or, if the doors are closed as the fire winds down.
Because of its ability to withstand high heat, pyroceramic glass is also good for wood-burning stoves. Pat said Wooster Glass worked with one customer in Wayne County who had purchased a wood-burning stove, only to discover the glass on the door was cracked. The staff was able to measure and cut a piece of glass for a custom fit in for the wood-burning stove door.
The ability to cut the glass on site is one of the nice features of pyroceramic glass, Pat said. Tempered glass has to be ordered and custom made at a factory. It can take about 10 days to order the tempered glass, have it custom manufactured, and then have it shipped to Wooster Glass.
Considerations when looking at fireplace doors
Wooster Glass uses Design Specialties to make custom fireplace doors. You can get them in traditional, transitional or modern styles. You can order them in a variety of metals and glass. For those interested in fireplace doors, someone from Wooster Glass will walk you through the process. It’s not a quick thing. And, that’s because of all the choices and customizations available to get the best doors for your home.
Some of the choices you will be asked to make:
- What kind of handles do you want?
- What kind of framing?
- What kind of metal?
- What color finish?
- Do you want colored glass?
- Do you want screens?
- Do you want traditional doors?
- Bi-fold doors?
Pat says the choice boils down to two things:
- Do you want functional, or
- Do you want it ornamental?
Oh, almost forgot. What about the iPhone? Pyroceramic glass is used to make Gorilla Glass, a sturdy product used to make the displays for iPhones and other smartphones. There you have it, the link between fireplace doors, cookware, guided missiles and iPhones.
If Wooster Glass can help you with selecting the right fireplace doors, either call us (the number is below) or send us a message via our contact page.