Our drinking glasses are always busy, starting with juice or a smoothie in the morning through to the glass of water at bedtime, with water, iced tea, cocktails and everything else in between! Thankfully, drinking glasses are available in wide range of sizes and shapes as well as being made from different types of glass, plastics and crystal.In this article we consider what is important when selecting new drinking glasses as well as looking in some detail at glass materials and how thermal or mechanical shock can affect your glasses. We also review a selection of the best drinking glasses on the market to assist you in choosing the best glasses for your household’s needs.
The ARC International Luminarc pub beer glasses are our US-manufactured best pick of the drinking glasses for beer, water, iced tea or any other type of cold drink.
The US Acrylic classic plastic water tumblers are our US made and BPA-free budget pick for everyday indoor and outdoor use.
Table of Contents
- Quick Comparison: Top 10 Best Drinking Glasses
- 1. ARC International Luminarc Pub Beer Glass
- 2. US Acrylic Classic Plastic Water Tumbler
- 3. Duralex Picardie Clear Tumbler
- 4. Home Essentials Galaxy Glassware Set
- 5. Marquis by Waterford 165119 Markham Hiball Collins Glasses
- 6. Tervis Tumbler
- 7. Red Co. Vibrant Splash Water/Beverage Highball Glasses
- 8. Anchor Hocking Reality Tumbler Set
- 9. Libbey Classic Tumbler Glasses
- 10. Libbey Midtown Cooler Glass
- Things to Consider Before Buying Drinking Glasses
Quick Comparison: Top 10 Best Drinking Glasses
1. ARC International Luminarc Pub Beer Glass
The 16 fl. oz (one pint) ARC International Luminarc pub beer glasses come as a set of nine and are made in the US. These are made from soda-lime glass which is lead free and this set of glasses are suitable for cleaning in the dishwasher.Some buyers have found these to be thinner than comparable glasses and there is a chance that some of these will arrive with obvious manufacturing defects.
2. US Acrylic Classic Plastic Water Tumbler
Made from BPA-free clear acrylic, the US Acrylic classic plastic water tumblers have a 16 fl. oz/one pint capacity and come as a set of six. These tumblers have been made in the US and are top rack dishwasher safe, although some buyers have experienced damage to the glasses when putting them through the dishwasher.These have a thick base and straight walls and the classic design makes them suitable for using indoors or out. They may be thinner than expected and some buyers consider that these are not as long lasting as they would have expected, and they can soon develop scratches.
3. Duralex Picardie Clear Tumbler
Made from tempered glass in France, the Duralex Picardie clear tumblers (12 fl. oz) are available in a set of six. As tempered glass, these are impact and chip resistant and suitable for hot or cold drinks. As well as being dishwasher safe, these glasses are also microwave and fridge safe.Although their design allows them to be stacked for storage, some owners have experienced difficulties in pulling them apart once stacked. There may also be inadequate packaging around these glasses increasing the risk of breakage during shipping.
4. Home Essentials Galaxy Glassware Set
The 12 piece Galaxy glassware set includes four 7 fl. oz juice glasses, four 13 fl. oz DOF ‘double old fashioned’ glasses and four 17 fl. oz hiball glasses.These glasses are dishwasher safe and have a dimpled texture/pattern, although the texturing is inside rather than outside the glass. As with any glass, there can be a risk of shipping damage and the parcel may not have been labelled up as ‘fragile’ when received.
5. Marquis by Waterford 165119 Markham Hiball Collins Glasses
Made of lead free crystalline, the Marquis by Waterford Markham hiball glasses (165119) have a 14 fl. oz capacity and come presented in a gift box. Made in Italy, this set of four heavier weight glasses with a diamond-inspired pattern are suitable for entertaining or for everyday use.It is recommended that these glasses be handwashed rather than cleaned in the dishwasher and some buyers have found that these can chip easily. Some also consider that the seams are too visible on these glasses.
6. Tervis Tumbler
This four pack of 16 fl. oz Tervis tumblers are made in the USA from Tritan plastic which is BPA free. These are double walled clear tumblers suitable for hot or cold drinks and they are safe to use in the freezer, microwave and dishwasher. These also come with an unconditional lifetime warranty although a small number of buyers have experienced some problems when trying to make a claim under the warranty.A number of buyers have found that these have clouded quite easily when they have been cleaned in the dishwasher and that the seam between the double walls can begin to break down.
7. Red Co. Vibrant Splash Water/Beverage Highball Glasses
The Vibrant Splash hiball glasses are available as a set of six 13.25 fl. oz glasses. These have colored bottoms which are also weighted for extra stability although some buyers have found these can be more fragile than other hiball glasses. Although these are not explicitly advertised as dishwasher safe, some owners have been putting them through the dishwasher with few issues. Some also consider that as a hiball glass these are a little on the small side.
8. Anchor Hocking Reality Tumbler Set
Made in the US, the Anchor Hocking Reality tumbler set contains eight 12 fl. oz glass tumblers and eight 16 fl. oz tumblers. These tumblers are dishwasher safe and have a durable weighted design to minimize spills. Some buyers consider that these are thin glass and will break easily and the shape of them may mean that they can be slightly uncomfortable to hold by those with smaller hands.
9. Libbey Classic Tumbler Glasses
Made with lead free glass, the set of four Libbey classic tumblers have an 18 fl. oz capacity and are suitable for cleaning in the dishwasher. These appear to be quite fragile and prone to breaking. They can also break in the dishwasher when placed on the top shelf, so you may choose to wash these by hand rather than through the dishwasher.
10. Libbey Midtown Cooler Glass
With a 16 fl. oz capacity, the Libbey Midtown cooler glass comes as a set of four and has been made in the US. These have a heavy base for stability and can be cleaned in the dishwasher. If you do choose to wash these by hand, then the shape of these cooler classes can make it more difficult to clean the inside of the glass easily. There is also a chance that these can arrive with some minor manufacturing defects such as unevenness on the walls of the glass.
Things to Consider Before Buying Drinking Glasses
When buying new drinking glasses, most people tend to prefer everyday glasses of around 10 to 12 ounces. A four to six ounce glass can be better for drinking juices or cocktails while larger 12 to 16 ounce glasses are better suited to water, iced tea and beer.
When choosing glasses look at the size of them and consider who will use them the most, as although wider glasses can look great sat on the table, they can be difficult to hold properly in smaller hands.
Glasses made with thinner glass may be more comfortable when drinking from as this thinness ensures a thinner rim. However, like many aspects of selecting glassware, this is often down to personal preference and thinner glasses do increase the risk of breakage, especially when cleaning.
Look for glasses which have weighted bottoms as these are less likely to slide across a wet surface when put down. Likewise, ensure they are not too weighted as this will make the glass heavier to hold when full – more of a problem with larger volume glasses.
A drinking glass should allow you to see the contents of the glass easily and unless you do keep separate glassware for casual and formal, then the glass should be suitable for using at any occasion.
If you buy glasses in a smaller set, not only can it help keep costs down, but it also means you only need buy another small set to replace any broken ones, unless of course you have plenty of storage space in the garage or basement for spare glasses.
Whether glasses stack is personal preference, but if space is at a premium, then stackable glasses will take less room up, although there can be a greater risk of damaging these through thermal shock.
Drinking Glass Materials
The main types of everyday drinking glasses are made from soda-lime glass, tempered glass and occasionally borosilicate glass, as well as plastic. Some higher end everyday glasses may also be made with lead-free crystal, also known as crystalline.
Soda-lime glasses are best suited to cold drinks and if these glasses break, they will shatter into shards which can take time to clear up. Glasses made from tempered glass are suitable for hot and cold drinks and they are durable, often surviving a fall onto the countertop or even a solid floor.
Soda-lime or soda-lime-silica glass is most commonly used for glass panes and glass containers for food and drinks; around 90% of all glass manufactured is soda-lime. Because it can be re-softened and re-melted numerous times it is also recyclable as well as being quite inexpensive to manufacture.
Soda-lime glass is made from soda (sodium carbonate), lime, silica (silicon dioxide), dolomite and aluminum oxide. Rather than pure chemicals, ingredients such as sand and feldspar may be used. The mix also contains fining agents such as sodium chloride or sodium sulfate. The amounts of raw materials will vary depending on whether the glass is being made for panes (flat) or containers.
The raw materials are melted in a furnace at temperatures of up to 3047°F and to make container glass, the liquid glass then goes through a blowing and pressing production method to produce the finished containers or glassware.
Tempered glass or ‘safety glass’ glass is made by heating and then rapidly cooling (or ‘quenching’) glass. Because quenching cools the outer surface of the glass faster than its core, it causes the surface and edges of the glass to become compressed and leaves the center at tension.
Not only does this make the glass as much as five times stronger than lime-soda glass but it also alters its break characteristics. When tempered glass breaks it shatters into small cubes rather than shards which helps reduce the risk of injury and makes cleaning up easier.
Unlike soda-lime glass, tempered glass is less likely to break through thermal shock; such as when hot liquid is poured into a cold glass. Thermal shock happens when different parts of the glass expand at different rates to the change in temperature. These different rates of expansion then cause the glass to crack.
Tempered glass can occasionally break through thermal shock, with surface damage or a manufacturing defect. Occasionally happening as spontaneous shattering, this arises when there is an imbalance of the compression of the surface of the glass and the tension at the core.
Borosilicate glass is also resistant to thermal stress; however, it usually costs more than tempered glass, is more brittle and is best suited to very hot drinks.
Plastic tumblers are ideal for outdoor drinking glasses and are especially safe for kids to use, or indeed anyone who may have problems gripping a glass safely. Although they may sustain cosmetic damage on their surface over time and use, plastic or acrylic will rarely break when dropped onto the floor. If you are looking for plastic tumblers, then look for ones which are BPA-free.
The tumbler actually dates back to the 17th century and was the name given to a short and wide metal drinking cup which did not contain a handle. No-one is sure why it was given the name tumbler. Some suggest it was because it the cup would spill when set down while others suggest that this style of cup could right itself when spilled as it had a weighted bottom!
Crystalline, or lead-free crystal was developed by manufacturers in response to consumer concerns of lead leaching into drinks from the traditional leaded crystal often used to manufacture more formal glassware. Crystalline contains up to 24% of minerals such as barium oxide and magnesium to add strength and improve the clarity of the glasses and it can still refract light in the way that traditional leaded crystal does.
Crystalline is produced by major crystal manufacturers such as Royal Doulton and Waterford and it offers heavier weight lead-free pieces which are stronger than glass, have high clarity and may also be safe to clean in the dishwasher.
Clouding or etching can occur with any glass, even those which have been handled carefully. Etching arises through regular use and dishwasher cleaning. If you do put your glasses through the dishwasher you can use a glass renovator every month or so to reduce the risk of etching and a glass renovator will also help prevent build-up of dishwasher rinse aid on the glasses.
How to Clean, Store and Use Your Glasses to Reduce the Risk of Breakage
It is important to always wash glasses thoroughly, whether by hand or in the dishwasher as glasses which are not washed properly will develop a buildup of odor and are often left with water and grease marks which dull the luster of the glass.
When you buy new drinking glasses, they should always be washed well before using to remove any manufacturing residue and if you hand wash your glasses, then wash them one by one rather than placing them all in the sink as this reduces the risk of mechanical shock. Any suitable dish detergent is fine along with a soft cloth or sponge for hand washing glasses.
When using the dishwasher, place glasses in carefully and try to use the top rack, although larger glasses will not always fit in here. Keeping rinse aid topped up will help stop them from smearing.
Although all glass has some resistance to mechanical shock, or physical impact, the type of glass, its finished design and what causes the mechanical shock will define whether or not a glass breaks. Numerous mechanical shocks over time, such as from glasses knocking together in the dishwasher will reduce the strength of the glassware and increase its risk of breaking. However, it is thermal shock, caused by heat, which is often the main cause of glass breakage in the dishwasher.
Once glasses have been washed, they are best left to air dry - upturned - and once dry you can use a soft glass cloth to remove any water marks.
When storing glasses in the cabinet, store them downturned on a soft shelf liner to help prevent chipping. If you use a liner specifically for storing glasses, its design will allow air flow which can help stop unwanted odors from accumulating in glasses not used as regularly. Ideally, there should also be some space left between the rims of glasses to minimize chipping.
Although some glasses are designed to be stackable, always stack them carefully and be aware that repeated stacking can leave them more at risk of breakage through thermal shock. To avoid thermal shock when stacking, make sure the glasses have first cooled down from the dishwasher. Otherwise, if you stack hot glasses, the cooling air trapped between them will try to equalize with the external air pressure and this may cause the glass to shatter. Hot glasses can also be more susceptible to developing scratches.
Likewise, if you avoid adding ice cubes to a hot glass or hot liquids to a cold glass this reduce the risk of thermal shock. If you do use your glasses for hot drinks, then try to prewarm them with some warm water before adding the hot liquid. Even using a scoop to add ice cubes to a glass instead of scooping ice with the glass can help reduce the risk of thermal shock.
You should also avoid placing glasses in the freezer or microwave unless the manufacturer explicitly states that this is safe to do.
In this article we have taken a look at the advantages and disadvantages of different types of glass as well as the basics of how glass is made. We have also looked at some of the ways to reduce the stress we place on our drinking glasses on a daily basis, which can help prevent breakage through thermal or mechanical shocks.We hope that you have enjoyed our review of the best drinking glasses and we also hope that in the glasses we have reviewed you have been able to find the right set for your home, whether you need beer glasses, a set of hiballs for iced tea and cocktails or some plastic tumblers for using in the yard.