3 Differences Between Pyrex and Glass

Glass and Pyrex are two common materials that you see everyday. You can drink from a cup made of glass and cook using a measuring cup of made of Pyrex, for instance. But not many people spend time thinking about the differences between the two materials.

Glass has been around since the Bronze Age, which means it has a much longer track record to analyze. Pyrex was invented by Corning in 1915. The way we use both Pyrex and glass has also changed with time, so let’s take a closer look at some key differences between them.

Pyrex is a brand name

This one may sound obvious, but not everyone realizes that Pyrex is a trademarked brand. Of course, glass is not. Now, a type of glass can be trademarked, but glass itself is just a generic name for a material that could be used to make anything from a cup to a chandelier.

While Corning (based, appropriately enough, in Corning, New York) is responsible for introducing the Pyrex line, they no longer manufacture it. It’s now owned by another company (Corelle Brands). Pyrex is made using glass, but it’s a tempered glass. At least originally, it was made with something called borosilicate glass. This type of glass is better for cooking, among other things.

Pyrex is shatterproof

So what’s the big deal with Pyrex and cooking? For starters, it’s shatterproof. If you drop a glass bowl in your kitchen, glass fragments will get everywhere, including possible in your skin. But when Pyrex breaks, it breaks apart in cubes rather than shards. The glass in your car windows is designed to work the same way. This may not keep something from breaking, but it should keep glass breakage from causing any additional injuries.

Pyrex was also originally praised for its ability to handle both high temperatures and low temperatures. This makes it ideal for cooking, but it also makes it ideal for chemistry labs. So when you took basic chemistry in high school, you were almost certainly pouring chemicals into tubes and beakers made of Pyrex.

However, there are signs that Pyrex has undergone some changes. Nowadays, at least in the United States, it doesn’t handle temperature changes as well. This is because the American manufacturers have switched from borosilicate to soda lime silicate glass. The latter material is less likely to break if you drop it. But that increased durability in one area doesn’t come without a price, as the material may also be more likely to break into shards if you do drop it it in just the right (or wrong) way.

Should you worry about the new Pyrex? Apparently not if you work in a lab. Research indicates the change only affects Pyrex that is used in cooking, not the kind used by scientists and students in lab settings.

Pyrex better handles fire

All that being said, Pyrex is still generally more durable than glass in some important ways, even if it’s not quite as durable as it used to be. Let’s look at a Pyrex beaker versus a glass iPhone. While the newer-model iPhones are more durable now, they’ll still shatter during drop tests. So while you might not need iPhone repair as often with an iPhone 8 as compared to an iPhone 4, you still need it sometimes.

But most people prefer the look of glass to Pyrex, and well, there’s really no need to make phone screens out of Pyrex. Most people aren’t going to subject their phone screens to a flame or other heat source, at least not on purpose. You’re also not going to use it as cooking equipment.

Pyrex and associated materials are best for cooking, lab work, and smoking. Then you have products like Mav glass that are neither regular glass nor Pyrex. However, they are thicker and heavier in a way that’s designed to appeal to smokers.

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