"The flame comes up through the glass, and it's used in place of ceramic logs," says Ashley Rohlfing, a spokesperson with American Specialty Glass, based in Salt Lake City. "Our product is unique, because we use 100 percent recycled glass, and we sell it by the pound."
Glass like Rohlfing sells comes in a wide range of colors and often is used in landscaping, aquariums and, more recently, in fires. "It's more for decoration than for fuel efficiency," she says. "The cost of the glass depends on the color, and our orange and red glass is the most expensive."
Rohlfing says the orange and red glass product sells for about $3 per pound with a minimum order of 50 pounds. "It takes about 7 pounds to cover a square foot in 1 inch of glass," she says.
David Grant, owner and operator at Fireplace Design Solutions in Sioux Falls, says the use of fire glass is more "trendy" than anything else. "It's very contemporary, but it's been around for a long time," he says. "I get a few calls for it, and I think some people are caught by its look, but for the most part, people see tradition with fire."
Gathering around logs - albeit ones not made of wood - is the attraction, Grant says. He is seeing more demand for outdoor patios, kitchens and bars, and most of his designs include fireplaces, fire pits, or a combination of the two to extend their use. "We've only got three months of summer, so anything that can extend use into early spring and late fall is popular," he says. "If you can use these outdoor facilities and still be comfortable, people like it."
Ed Jaunzemis, CEO of Aquatic Glass/Moderustic, a Southern California-based glass producer, says there's more than just color to the product. "This glass will spread the heat out, and we're seeing more use in fireplaces and fire pits," he says. "When you burn gas with ceramic logs, you'll still get soot. Soot is soot, and it shows carbon monoxide is being produced."
Jaunzemis says stores don't mention this risk. "They will tell you to keep the windows of the fireplace closed," he says. "But they don't tell you why." With his product, the glass gets hot fast and does not produce the soot and poisonous gas that comes with logs.
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