What you need to know about glass etching

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All the basics about glass etching that will help you

Are you interested in glass etching? My husband and I are very familiar with this process and I will show you the basics down below.


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What do you need to etch glass?

Etching Cream

Most people use etching cream. You could also use acid, but it is not as easy to use.

For our projects, we use the Armour Etch Cream.


You will need a brush for applying the etching cream. The brush size depends on your stencil. I recommend using a brush to apply the cream smoother.

Keep in mind to wash the brush thoroughly after applying the glass etching cream.


You can use most glasses and glass surfaces for etching. 

(Please note that borosilicate glass articles can’t be etched. For example, baby glass bottles are made of borosilicate glass. These glasses must be engraved.)


As the etching cream is full of chemical ingredients, it is a must to wear gloves during the etching process.

Adhesive Vinyl 

For the stencil, you’ll need an adhesive-backed vinyl. I highly recommend using this one. The quality is great and it’s easy to remove from the glass. 


You need a stencil to use etching cream. The stencil can be made by hand or by a machine. I created our stencils in Adobe Illustrator and Silhouette Studio and cut them using the Silhouette Cameo 3. 

If you want to cut the stencil by hand you will need an x-acto knife.

Cover for the workspace (for example, newspaper).

What is glass etching cream made of? 

The cream is made of chemical substances like barium sulfate, sulfuric acid, sodium bifluoride, and ammonium bifluoride.

This kind of cream is more often used than acid because it’s much easier to use.

How does glass etching cream work?

The chemical substances in the cream dissolve the molecular bonds within the glass. 

The fluorine atoms of the cream react with the silicon atoms in the glass. This causes a frosted effect. 

Can you clean etched glass?

Etched Glass is dishwasher safe if the glass itself is dishwasher safe.

The great thing about glass etching is it’s everlasting! The etching stays on this glass forever. You can wash it without any problems.

How is etched glass made?

Applying the Etching Cream

You need to apply a big amount of etching cream on the glass (over the stencil). We always suggest using a brush for this step.

Let it sit

Let it sit for approximately one minute to let the cream do the work.

Rinse with water

After the minute, free the glass from the etching cream with water. Wash all the etching cream away!

!Pro Tip!

As you applied a big amount of the cream it would be a waste if you wash it all away.
We always put a part of the cream back into the bottle after the minute waiting time.

This saves you a lot of etching cream and it works as great as usual the next time!

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What can be etched?


Wine glasses, champagne glasses, whiskey glasses, or other types of drinking glasses can be etched. Plates may also be used.

NOTE: Products made of Borosilicate Glass can’t be etched. (The etching cream doesn’t work on this type of glass.)

Here you can find a few examples of etched glasses!

Also, take a look at this gallery for reference!


Mirrors can be etched, as well. They are often easier to etch because of the flat surface.

Here you can find a few examples of etched mirrors!

What is the difference between the etched and engraved glass?

There are a few noticeable differences between etched and engraved glass.


For machine production, etched glass is done in a combination of stencils and a sandblaster. The engraved glass is often made using laser engraving machines.

Glass etching is often done by hand, so it takes longer to produce.


Etched glass and engraved glass will look very similar. But, if you take a closer look you will notice that glass etching has a much better quality. Glass etching, when done by hand, is usually much more impressive than engraved glass. 


For engraved glass products there are, most of the time, only specific designs and fonts to choose from.
Glass etching, because of the use of stencils, has much more possibilities in designing. For example, I’m designing the stencils by myself using Adobe Illustrator and Silhouette Studio. Nearly every image or motif can turn to a stencil. 


Engraving glass must be done with special tools and therefore is often hard to be done as a hobby. Glass etching, on the other hand, is a very easy hobby to have. 

Now we’ve covered all the basics on glass etching and how it works. Feel free to comment below on your own experiences or message us with any questions you have.

You may also be interested in the following article: 
Why you need to give personalized gifts

Let me know if you liked the article below! 

Fairy Glass Etching

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