How Mirrors Are Made

Have you ever thought about how mirrors are made? Things have progressed tremendously since the first prehistoric man polished a piece of obsidian until it became reflective.

Following that in the progression of how mirrors are made were those made of polished metal. There are some metals that can be polished until they reflect light and can be used as mirrors. They can sometimes be seen in some campgrounds even now. But early on, only the more wealthy people had them. This set them aside from common folk and showed everyone their status.

In the early 1600s, another step forward in how mirrors are made came about. This was when silvering, or the backing of a sheet of glass with melted silver, became the way to make mirrors. That helped make better mirrors, even with the inferior glass of that day.

Today, the next step in how mirrors are made involves other metals as backing. In some mirrors, mercury was used as that backing, but was stopped due to concerns about containing the mercury. Now, aluminum is the most frequently used metal in making mirrors.

One of the major considerations in how mirrors are made is the technology used. Non-diffusive surfaces, those that are smooth and opaque, not transparent, are best for reflecting light.

An innovation in how mirrors are made has to do with making the glass flatter and making the backing more uniform. If the glass varies in thickness, your reflection may look thinner or larger than you actually are. Variations in the thickness of the metal backing will also distort the image you see in the mirror. If the metal backing is thin, you might be able to see through the backing.

When you consider how mirrors are made, keep in mind that glass reflects light poorly. But the glass can be polished to a high sheen to get rid of pits. This makes it a good base for a reflective metal backing.

The regularity of the glass surface is of importance in how mirrors are made. For home use, glass for mirrors must be reasonably flat and durable. But when mirrors are to be used for scientific purposes, uniform smoothness, often measured in thousandths of an inch.

When you are looking for mirrors or a replacement for a mirror, call FEDERAL GLASS AND MIRROR at 508-872-3563. Mike and John Purpura have a long family history of excellence in many types of glass replacement and installation.