How Is Glitter Made? Fun Facts For Kids That Are Full Of Sparkle

Rajnandini Roychoudhury
Feb 20, 2023 By Rajnandini Roychoudhury
Originally Published on Oct 22, 2021
Fact-checked by Sakshi Raturi
Bright cosmetic glitters in transparent jars
Age: 3-18
Read time: 9.3 Min

Glamour and glitter go hand in hand, but what is glitter after all?

Glitter is made from very tiny reflective particles, commonly available in multiple color combinations, shapes, and sizes. Everyone needs some glitter in their life!

It is a component adored by adults and kids alike. Childhood fairytales would have been so dull and lusterless were it not for fairy dust, shimmery wands of angels, and sparkles in princesses' dresses and sandals.

Glitter has some kind of magical charm that can immediately grab your attention. Although these are minuscule particles, the modern world is heavily dependent on glitter.

It has flooded consumer markets with an abundance of products. The majority of glitter is used for manufacturing a range of cosmetics such as nail polish, eye shadow, and others.

You can craft tons of decorative items with glitter. You just need paper, glue and glitter.

If you have an enduring love for metallic sparkles, then these spellbinding facts about how glitter is made will surely brighten up your day! So, if you are someone who is into art or loves glitter and sparkly decoration, you may be even more surprised to find out these facts about glitter and how it came about.

If you enjoyed the content then keep reading to find out more. Don't forget to peek into these suggestions about how is glue made and how is ink made? 

How is glitter made in factories?

The steep demand for glitters can't be met with homemade glitter. As a result, factories produce glitter on a large scale. Here is how glitter is made in big factories.

Glitter is usually produced from two kinds of film namely PET film and PVC film. While the former is used specifically for making polyester glitter, the latter is used for craft glitter.

A film with solid color is used for metallic glitter. On the other hand, holographic glitter is produced with the help of a holographic film.

This is done by carving a particular pattern on the films so that they reflect light at different wavelengths creating a rainbow-like effect. The film used for iridescent glitter is multi-layered which emits several radiant colors when perceived from different angles as a result of the refraction of light.

All these films are first treated and colored before the initiation of the cutting process. Glitters are available in a range of sizes and shapes. The most common are triangle, hexagon, circle, square, and rectangle.

The cutting of these shapes and sizes depends on the machine that is being used in factories. Big companies like Meadowbrook Inventions located in New Jersey are manufacturers of a variety of glitter styles. Technologies used by companies vary but the desired glitter size or shape determines the blade configuration in every machine.

Have you heard of edible glitter? Have you ever come across glitter in coffees or muffins?

Yes, glitter has also found its way into the food industry and it is popularly used in numerous restaurants. In the food industry, edible glitter is called by other names like luster dust, jewel dust, or disco dust.

An edible glitter comprises the ingredients sugar, authorized color additives, and cornstarch. They offer a dash of colorful sparkle to your regular cakes and cookies.

However, be extra careful while picking up glitter from the shelves of stores as several fake products have entered the market. These products are tagged 'non-toxic' to misguide buyers. You must bear in mind that non-toxic doesn't necessarily mean edible.

As per guidelines of the Food and Drug Administration, products that don't have the list of ingredients and the 'edible' tag must not be used for consumption. So, be sure to locate the term 'edible' on the package of the product.

However, small doses of decorative glitter are not lethal. Ingesting non-toxic glitter can cause temporary irritations but it is not potent enough to cause fatal injuries.

How is ultra-fine glitter made?

You can bring some liveliness into your life by revamping your old boots or crafting some shiny ornaments. Check out these easy-to-follow steps to make ultra-fine glitter at home that can come in handy. Moreover, this glitter made at home is natural, plastic-free, and safe.

First, gather your ingredients, namely ground sea salt, a baking dish, and food coloring of your choice. Then the oven needs to be preheated to a temperature of 350 F (176.6 C).

Now, you need to divide the salt into bowls and add a few drops of the desired coloring. This needs to be mixed thoroughly before spreading out the mixture on the baking tray.

All that remains to be done is baking it for 10 minutes at 350 F (176.6 C). However, once it's done, make sure that you give enough time for your freshly baked glitter to cool down before use.

You can create as many shades and combinations as you wish. What are you waiting for?

Grab your ingredients and get going! If you want to keep your glitter chunky then you have to take the rock form of sea salt and then follow the same drill.

How is Lush glitter made from seaweed?

Non-biodegradable glitter is hazardous to the marine ecosystem. In such a scenario, many companies in the glitter business have shifted to biodegradable glitter. Lush is one such company.

Lush is renowned for its effort of implementing eco-friendly methods of manufacturing glitter used in its wide range of cosmetics. Lush has completely eliminated the use of plastic glitter for its products.

The eco-conscious strategy of the company has led to the use of agar, which is extracted from seaweed, to hold the tiny pieces of mica together. The initiative of Lush has brought about a positive change in the fashion industry.

Gold glitter spilled on black background

How Glitter Stones Are Made

Glitter can be used in modeling an assortment of useful decorative items. Man has used glitter to produce beautiful sparkling stones. These stones are commonly called goldstones.

A goldstone is nothing but colored glass. It's not exactly a stone. The surface of this flat-shaped glass is highly reflective.

Goldstones are created simply by melting copper, silica, borax, and some other chemical elements. First, molten glass is heated until it reaches the temperature suitable for dissolving the copper oxide granules. Once the granules dissolve in the melt, it undergoes the process of cooling.

As gradual cooling takes place, the copper ions mix, eventually forming crystals of octahedral shape. The actual glass displays no color.

It's the color of the copper crystals that they reflect back. You can even use chromium to get a blue glitter stone or manganese for a purple glitter stone. These stones are popularly used for making jewelry and other embellishments.

Did You Know...

Interestingly, the first glitter was manufactured somewhat accidentally! It was from plastic that the first glitter was produced in 1934, by Henry Ruschmann, an American machinist and cattle rancher based in New Jersey.

It was due to his hobby that he came across an innovative method of cutting plastic (mylar) sheets into tiny glittery particles.

Ruschmann used this new idea and eventually founded his company, Meadowbrook Inventions, in 1943 where he officially initiated the production of industrial glitter. In fact, the company owned by Henry Ruschmann is among the largest global manufacturers producing more than 20,000 variations of glitter even today.

In the modern world, glitter can be commonly found in any store around a street corner. However, the origin of glitter is enlightening.

In prehistoric times, glitter existed and was even used by our ancient ancestors especially in cosmetics and arts. People derived glitter from readily available materials sometimes found in the form of stones like hematite and malachite while some were extracted from glass or insects. Excavations have proved that cave paintings from 30,000 years back were made using mica flakes.

While these mineral flakes rendered a bright sheen to paintings, a powdered form of the sparkling mineral hematite was largely used in makeup products. Doesn't glitter seem quite old, almost as old as discovering color pigments?

Evidence points to the fact that glitter was also used by Americans about 8,000 years ago. They used the powder of a variant of lead called galena to make sparkling grayish-white paint.

This paint was used as a coating for ornaments, beads, and other adornments. Natives of Cahokia mined out galena from the Mississippi Valley. These decorative items were also traded by these natives.

Even the ancient Egyptians left no stones unturned to obtain glittery substances from malachite crystals and insects such as beetles. Some Mayan temples that were painted in shiny red, gray, and green are believed to be glitter paints manufactured from mica dust.

Do you know where the term 'glitter' comes from? The word is taken from 'gliteren', a Middle English term which came from 'glitra', an Old Norse word.

Did you ever wonder while sticking all the glitter onto your Christmas greeting card what makes glitters sparkle? Let's discover the magical secret!

As mentioned earlier, glitter is made up of thousands and thousands of loose dust-like particles. However, those thousands of tiny particles are mostly extracted from several non-biodegradable materials.

These materials possess vibrant iridescent or metallic colors owing to which they can reflect light at different angles, making them shine. Paper-thin sheets of materials such as aluminum foil, iron oxide, titanium dioxide, bismuth oxychloride, and copolymer plastic are widely used to produce these sparkly dust particles.

These sheets are then cut out and fragmented into countless minute pieces that sparkle as they reflect light. As a result, the reflective surface of these glistening bits produces a vibrant spectrum of colors.

Although glitter adds sparkle to our lives, it does have some flaws. Glitter has been banned in a few countries owing to its toxic effects on nature and health.

It goes without saying that since glitter is made from non-biodegradable plastic, it impacts the environment severely. The environmental anthropologist, Trisia Farrelly has asked for a complete ban on glitters composed of aluminum and polyethylene terephthalate. Farelly has duly emphasized the role of these microplastics in leaching hormonal disruptors and threatening environmental harmony.

Many campaigners and scientists have followed suit and proposed a ban on toxic plastic glitter. The plastic used in glitters takes thousands of years or even more to decompose.

Moreover, when these tiny bits of plastic are introduced into water bodies, they threaten marine life and disrupt the ecological balance in nature. Glitter made from plastic also comes with several health issues due to its toxic chemical components.

The smoke released from the plastic is extremely toxic. It can cause health problems such as hormonal imbalances, cancer, and neurological disorders especially when ingested. However, countless companies have invested their resources into producing biodegradable glitter.

Extract from the eucalyptus tree combined with aluminum is delicate and softer on skin and what's more, it's biodegradable. Glitter made from cellulose is also considered a safer alternative.

If you love wearing glitter then don't forget to try glitter nail art in your free time. To make your nails sparkle all day long you just need to mix some glitter with your favorite nail polish and apply it! It's stylish and trendy.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for how is glitter made then why not take a look at a weight loss fact or myth: do you lose weight when you poop, or know your kitten better: when do kittens lose their baby teeth?

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Written by Rajnandini Roychoudhury

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English, Master of Arts specializing in English

Rajnandini Roychoudhury picture

Rajnandini RoychoudhuryBachelor of Arts specializing in English, Master of Arts specializing in English

With a Master of Arts in English, Rajnandini has pursued her passion for the arts and has become an experienced content writer. She has worked with companies such as Writer's Zone and has had her writing skills recognized by publications such as The Telegraph. Rajnandini is also trilingual and enjoys various hobbies such as music, movies, travel, philanthropy, writing her blog, and reading classic British literature. 

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Fact-checked by Sakshi Raturi

Postgraduate Diploma in Management

Sakshi Raturi picture

Sakshi RaturiPostgraduate Diploma in Management

Sakshi has experience in marketing strategy, social media planning, and recruiting industry experts for capstone projects, she has displayed a commitment to enhancing their skills and knowledge. She has won multiple awards, including a Certificate of Appreciation for Creative Writing and a Certificate of Merit for Immaculate Turut, and is always seeking new opportunities to grow and develop.

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