What’s The Best Color For Your Bottles’ UV Protection?
by Nahla Davies on 08/11/2023 | 4 Minute Read
Many different types of products come in glass bottles, whether it's medicines, supplements, essential oils, beer, wine, and liquor—you name it. Glass bottles are ubiquitous, and you'll find them in almost every aisle of the grocery store or pharmacy.
Sure, glass bottles are functional and economical when used as product packaging, but they can also suggest a product's premium nature. Better still, glass is 100% recyclable and can be recycled many times over without suffering in quality or purity. That makes glass a sustainable and environmentally-friendly material that can help to mitigate climate change and save natural resources while avoiding single-use plastics.
Those attributes alone make it an excellent packaging material for many different types of products for plenty of reasons. But if you're looking to use glass bottles to package your products, you should understand how the color of the glass is a critical factor. The main thing to consider when choosing glass as a packaging material is whether or not your product is affected by UV light. If it is, you may want to consider a colored tinted glass bottle, as clear glass doesn't offer the same level of protection from UV light.
Although glass comes in a magnitude of different colors and tints, five types of colored glass are the most common for bottling and product packaging—amber, blue glass, green glass, frosted glass, and clear glass bottles.
That's why we're looking at the different types of colored and tinted glass bottles available and how those colors hold up to UV light, in addition to some everyday products that can benefit the most from colored and tinted glass.
Amber, or dark brown tinted glass, is the best choice for absorbing and blocking UV radiation to protect products that may spoil or discolor when exposed to light. That is why many types of beer use amber bottles. Once beer gets exposed to UV light, it can become cloudy, solids may begin to separate, and the flavor profile can change drastically.
If the beer contains a high hop content, UV can also react with the hops and cause damage to the beer. Amber glass packaging is also preferred by pharmaceutical companies and producers of essential oils and plant-based products.
Blue glass provides moderate levels of protection from UV radiation by absorbing UV light the same way amber does. However, it can still let some blue light through, making it less protective than amber glass.
That said, cobalt blue bottles are still used because they offer sufficient UV protection while giving a product a unique and sophisticated look that stands out on the shelf. That is why you may see spirits brands like SKYY Vodka, as well as many companies that produce wine bottles and decanters, use cobalt blue glass for its elegant appearance.
Green glass bottles don’t offer much UV protection like amber or cobalt blue glass bottles do. However, they still provide some protection from visible light. Green glass bottles are commonly used for wine because they protect from visible light. It can also hide any sediments produced during the aging process.
Additionally, in the past, breweries that had difficulty sourcing amber glass bottles for their beers would instead opt for green because it was cheaper, easier to find, and offered more UV protection than its clear counterparts.
Good thing, too, because can you imagine Heineken without its signature green bottle?
Frosted glass is another common type of glass packaging used for cosmetics, perfumes, and various liquors. The substrate can easily elevate a product by creating a luxurious aesthetic that colored glass does not. Although frosted glass can block the amount of visible light that gets through, it cannot stop UV rays.
Clear glass offers zero protection against UV radiation and visible light but typically gets used for many goods not affected by those circumstances. Clear glass bottles are then often used for products where seeing the contents is part of the appeal—think juices, cold brew, iced tea, or salsa.
Many companies and startups are becoming more environmentally conscientiousand aware of their carbon footprint. Companies may also find that creating new glass packaging and recycling it produces much less greenhouse gas emissions than recycling plastics. Regardless, colored glass has many properties critical for brands worried about their products and exposure to light. But it can offer them certain aesthetics qualities or an ownable identity that feels at home with consumers.
But if you want a real workhorse, you always go amber.