Hold Your Breath: Liquid Glass Changes Everything


Here at EcoSalon we love glass – and we’ve spent years celebrating its use in milk bottles and gorgeously translucent tableware, its almost magical ability to be renewed and reshaped by the elements into something truly sublime. We want glass to shove past plastic and regain the well-deserved status it’s enjoyed for the last thousand years. Frankly, we can’t wait.

But nothing has prepared us for this.

A German company called Nanopool has secured the patent for a new type of glass – in spray form. It’s being called liquid glass, and it’s laid down in an unbelievably shallow coating (less than 30 molecules thick) that acts like no other surface we’ve ever heard of. Yes, it’s glass, and therefore water-resistant and easy to wipe down – but it’s also thin enough to be flexible and breathable. (Yes – air-permeable glass). If that weren’t enough, it blocks UV, resists heat and forms a surface bond that’s difficult to break, making it potentially as hard-wearing as its large-scale counterpart.

Where could it be used? Answer: absolutely everywhere. It will revolutionize decor. It could be used on any surface (being glass, it is chemically inert) including clothing, and the manufacturers are claiming that it will virtually eliminate the need for scrubbing because most stains will be prevented from forming in the first place. It will make household surfaces much more resistant to bacteria and grime, and keep medical equipment squeaky-clean. It can even be used to protect wood against termites and vines against fungal diseases.

So far, so world-changing. (Seriously so). But there’s one big question mark. Let’s not forget this is airborne silicon dioxide, and there’s a very ugly medical complaint associated with it – Silicosis, also known by the grotesque name of Potter’s Rot. When crystalline silica dust is in regular contact with our lungs (say, if we worked in a mine), it lodges inside them. Hard-wearing, water-resistant and so on? These marvels now become curses – and silicosis is currently untreatable and therefore irreversible.

Liquid glass is an incredible breakthrough – but let’s hope it’s applied to our products before they reach our hands. If not, the consequences could be quite literally breathtaking.

Image: amagill

Mike Sowden

Mike Sowden is a freelance writer based in the north of England, obsessed with travel, storytelling and terrifyingly strong coffee. He has written for online & offline publications including Mashable, Matador Network and the San Francisco Chronicle, and his work has been linked to by Lonely Planet, World Hum and Lifehacker. If all the world is a stage, he keeps tripping over scenery & getting tangled in the curtain - but he's just fine with that.