Everything You Need to Know About Uranium Glass

Posted On 09/20/2023 By Our Rusty Barn
Everything You Need to Know About Uranium Glass


Uranium glass is a special type of glass that glows bright green under a blacklight. In the 1880s to the 1930s, glassmakers added uranium to make the glass look colorful and exciting. The uranium made the glass sparkle with colorful flecks.

Uranium glass was popular for making tableware like plates, cups and bowls. It was also used to make small items like ornaments, beads and buttons. Sometimes factories added other colors too, so uranium glass comes in blue, amber, pink and green colors. 

This guide will teach you everything you need to know about uranium glass. You'll learn how to identify it, figure out how old it is, find cool pieces, take care of it and why people love collecting it. By the end, you'll be an expert on uranium glass!

Identifying Uranium Glass

There are some easy ways to know if a glass is uranium glass. The main thing is how it glows in the dark. When you shine a blacklight on uranium glass, it will glow bright green. This is because the uranium reacts to the blacklight's UV rays.

Uranium glass also has a pale green or yellow tint to it even when not in the blacklight. The more uranium in the glass, the darker this tint will be. You may be able to see flecks of color sparkling too.

Some common uranium glass colors are light emerald green, honey yellow and sally green. It was also made in shades of pink, blue and clear glass with flecks of uranium in it. Uranium glass pieces are usually small plates, cups and other tableware shapes.

Dating Uranium Glass

By learning about when uranium glass was popular, you can date the pieces you find. Most uranium glass was made between the 1880s through the 1930s. The earliest pieces have thicker glass and is typically more vibrant in color.

Look for any marks on the bottom that name the factory. Some famous uranium glass makers were Boston and Sandwich Glass Works. You can search online to learn more about their styles through the different time periods.

Comparing details like glass thickness, color intensity and design styles can also help determine if a piece is older or newer uranium glass. The craze ended by World War 2, so uranium glass made after that is considered modern reproductions.

Collecting Uranium Glass

Now that you know what to look for, you can start your own uranium glass collection. Check antique stores, flea markets, yard sales and eBay for pieces. Ask owners to see items under their blacklight before buying.

Some classic styles that collectors love finding are Pink and Green Depression glass, leaf-pattern Dorfle glass and Cameo Vaseline glass. Look at historical catalogs so you know quality molds and designs from each factory too.

Make sure glass is not damaged or scratched before purchase. Clean pieces carefully according to the next section before adding to your shelf display. With some searching, you can build an awesome uranium glass collection over time!

Caring for Uranium Glass

Taking good care of uranium glass helps it glow nicely for many years. To clean it, wash gently by hand with warm soapy water and dry immediately with a soft cloth. Never put uranium glass in the dishwasher.

Display uranium glass in a display case or on a high shelf, as its colorful glow can fade if exposed to too much sunlight over time. Wear gloves if handling rough or sharp edged pieces for safety.

Uranium is a natural radioactive element, so you don't want to eat or drink from this antique glassware. Keep it high up where little fingers can't easily reach either. Storing pieces wrapped in acid-free tissue protects them.

Appreciation and Value

Since uranium glass was made so long ago, it has become really collectible today. People like owning a piece of history that they can show their friends glowing under the blacklight!

Rarer and harder to find makers in perfect condition will be worth more money. Auction sites and antique appraisal books can give you an idea of current values for different uranium glass styles and patterns on the market.

On a scale of 1 to 10, a scratched common spoon might get a 3 out of 10 rating while a rare cut glass server in pristine shape could earn a 9 or 10. Grading collections this way allows values to be fairly compared. As more folks who enjoy collecting it, uranium glass keeps getting more valuable.


I hope this guide helped explain what uranium glass is and why it's sought after by collectors. Remember to properly identify, date, display and care for your uranium glass treasures. Have fun searching flea markets, antique stores and online auctions for wonderful new additions to your collection. Before you know it, you'll be a uranium glass expert and your collection will be glowing beautifully for many years to come.

Here are a few common misconceptions about uranium glass:
  • Safety concern - Many people worry that uranium glass is radioactive and unsafe. However, the amount of uranium in the glass is very small and poses minimal risk, especially when it's not being eaten/drank from. Proper display and storage is recommended.
  • All neon/fluorescent glass is uranium glass - Other materials like amethyst or manganese can also cause a glow. Uranium glass is identified by its distinctive green tint under UV light.
  • Uranium glass is always green - While emerald green is most associated with it, uranium was also used to create glass in other colors like pink, yellow, blue, and colorless glass with flecks.
  • It's a modern creation - Some think uranium glass is a new novelty item but it was actually produced from the late 1800s to 1930s and is considered an antique.
  • High uranium content = higher value - More uranium doesn't necessarily mean greater value. Condition, rarity of pattern/manufacturer, and other factors also influence a piece's worth.
  • Uranium can be detected without UV light - The glowing effect is only visible with a blacklight. Normal light won't reveal if uranium is present in the glass.
  • All antique glass is uranium glass - Uranium was one of many additives used. Age alone doesn't determine the composition - the piece must fluoresce green under UV light.
Safety considerations to keep in mind when handling uranium glass:
  • Uranium is weakly radioactive, so avoid direct skin contact as much as possible. Wear protective gloves when handling pieces for extended periods.
  • Do not eat, drink or put uranium glass items in your mouth. While the radiation levels are low, ingesting any material is not recommended.
  • Be careful of sharp edges and surfaces. As with any antique or delicate item, handle with care to avoid cuts.
  • Wash hands thoroughly after touching uranium glass, especially before eating or touching your face.
  • Do not deliberately break or chip uranium glass, as this can release radioactive material. Handle pieces carefully.
  • Store uranium glass out of reach of children and pets who may be more likely to put objects in their mouths.
  • Display pieces in a closed cabinet or shelving when not being admired. Do not leave collectibles unattended where they could possibly be touched.
  • Monitor any potential cuts or wounds from handling the glass closely for irritation. Seek medical advice if concerned.
  • Ventilate areas well if sanding or grinding uranium glass, as this can generate airborne particles.