What is glitter made from?

Written by megan mattingly-arthur
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What is glitter made from?
Glitter adds glamour to a collage. (Dreamglow: Flickr.com)

Invented in the 1930s by cattle farmer Henry Ruschmann, glitter is a common component used in decorating craft projects. Although manufactured craft glitter appears deceptively simple, it is actually created by treating sheets of aluminium foil with various chemicals and compounds. You can make your own homemade glitter using ordinary table salt.

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Aluminium foil

Aluminium foil is pliable aluminium that has been prepared in thin metal sheets. Used most commonly to cook and store food, aluminium foil plays an important role in the glitter-manufacturing process. Sheets of aluminium foils are treated with various chemicals and compounds, then cut into small bits to make craft glitter.

Iron oxides

Iron oxides are chemical compounds made from oxygen and iron. The 16 known iron oxides and oxyhydroxides are commonly used as pigments to dye anything from ceramic to electrochromic paints. Iron oxides are often used to treat sheets of aluminium foil to colour them for use in the production of craft glitter.

Titanium dioxide

A naturally-occurring oxide of titanium, titanium oxide is another pigment agent used in the production of everything from paints, to cosmetics and food colourings. Titanium oxide is known for its whitening effect, as well as its high refractive index, which is why it is so often used to add a white opalescence to craft glitter.

Bismuth oxychloride

Bismuth is a chemical elemental metal that is silvery white with a tinge of pink. Compounds of bismuth are frequently used in the production of cosmetics and medicines. The bismuth compound bismuth oxychloride is used to give craft glitter a pink pearlescent shine.

Copolymer plastics

A copolymer plastic is a type of plastic that is formed when multiple types of monomer are linked in the same chain. Examples of copolymers include synthetic rubber, nylon, polystyrene, silicone and PVC. Copolymer plastics like these are used to treat aluminium foil in the production of craft glitter.

Make salt glitter

You can also make your own glitter at home using food colouring and ordinary table salt. Start by preheating your oven to 177 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit). Measure two tablespoons of salt into a bowl and add 1/4 teaspoon of food colouring. Stir the salt and food colouring together until the colouring is evenly distributed. Line a baking tray with aluminium foil and spread the salt mixture out evenly on the baking tray. Bake in a preheated oven for ten minutes. After ten minutes, remove the salt glitter from the oven and allow to cool. Once cooled, you can use the homemade salt glitter in any project that calls for craft glitter. Also, because you used food colouring to colour your salt glitter, you can still use any leftover "glitter" as table salt.

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