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How Can I Collect Sea Glass Safely?

Updated: 3 days ago

Beachcombing can be a very mindful and rewarding activity and is especially nice to do with children. By following these basic steps, you can ensure that your trip to the beach is a safe and happy one. Don't forget to check out my main page with all my hints and tips for your Beachcoming Trips.

A picture of a female bent down, sorting through stones on a beach with the sea in the background
Craft Happy owner, Helen Carlisle, collecting sea glass at Morfa Beach in Conwy

Check the Tides

In my opinion, one of the most important checks you should do before heading to the beach are the tide times. The best time to look for sea glass is usually a couple of hours after high tide. As it turns and starts heading back out, I usually follow it with my collecting bucket. There are two good reasons for this, firstly, you can get first dibs on any treasures left behind by the retreating tide and secondly, it gives you plenty of time to explore without getting caught off guard by the incoming tide.

Check the Weather Forecast

Don't assume that a trip to the beach means it will be sunny and warm, there have been many times I have been caught out by the weather when I've been collecting, particularly at Seaham where the northerly winds can be bitterly cold! Prepare for the weather with layers of clothing, including a waterproof coat - and trousers if you have them. A hat is useful in both cold and sunny conditions as there is rarely any shade on the beach and wear sturdy shoes with good traction as rocks and seaweed can be slippery when wet. Most of all, don't forget your sunscreen, as well as snacks and drinks to keep your energy levels up!

Choose the Right Sea Glass Beach

Beaches with single and pebbles are generally better than sandy beaches as sea glass gets tumbled around with the stones. Areas near old ports or industrial areas can be good areas to try, which is why the north east Durham Heritage Coast is such a good spot. Avoid heavily polluted beaches by checking this beforehand (pollutions reports can usually be found by searching online or on a sign at the beach itself). Popular beaches, such as Seaham, are likely to be very busy with other beachcombers, particularly at weekends and on school holidays, so arrive early if you want to be sure of securing a decent haul.

Look Closely

Squatting down low to the ground or kneeling will help you spot sea glass more easily. I find a kneeling pad useful. The sunlight can make it tricky to see sometimes, so sunglasses or a hat with a brim can help shade your eyes. I haven't found a particular method works better, I tend to go with how my knees and back are feeling, sometimes picking a spot to sit and dig for a while and then having a walk about for a bit, looking for random pieces whenever I need to stretch my legs.

Protect your Hands

Sea glass can be sharp, and you can also encounter other objects when you're digging around, some of which can be unpleasant. That's not to mention possible pollution and the cold water! So for these reasons, I always advise wearing rubber gloves, either the thin disposable ones or simple washing up gloves. For the same reason, don't forget to wash your beach finds when you get home by soaking them in bleach for a day or two before rinsing them off.

Use a Container with a Lid

I've lost count of the number of times an inquisitive dog has run up to me when I've been kneeling down digging. Sometimes upturning my tub of finds, occasionally cocking it's leg and even running off with it on one occasion! It's easy to see how a tub of sea glass could be easily confused with treats by an excitable doggy so I have found that a lid keeps everything safe.

These are some of the basic tips for successful and enjoyable beachcoming that I have learnt over the years. Please feel free to add any of your own to the comments and thanks for reading. Happy Hunting!

Would you like to have a go at making your own sea glass art? Check out my craft kit containing everything you need to get started.

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