Can Tungsten Scratch Glass? (ANSWERED)

Yes, Tungsten can scratch glass.

In the article that follows, we will explain why tungsten can scratch glass, and teach you more about this interesting substance.

Can Tungsten Scratch Glass? (EXPLAINED)

Tungsten rates a 9 on the Mohs Hardness Scale, only mildly softer than the diamonds used to make glass cutters.

Glass rates a mere 6 on the same scale.

Tungsten can scratch glass very easily.

In fact, some emergency glass breakers have a bit of tungsten carbide on the tip to help glass shatter easier and more cleanly.

(You are advised to aim for a corner should you have to break a window in an emergency.)

Because tungsten is so hard, care should be taken that it not destroy other minerals in your collection. 

The History of Tungsten

Tungsten is not merely a mineral, but an element.

It is a pure substance made up of identical atoms.

Tungsten is atomic number 74, meaning every atom has seventy-four protons in its nucleus.

This substance was used hundreds of years ago in China as a means of tinting porcelain with a peach toned hue.

While brothers Juan and Fausto Elhuyar are credited with the discovery of tungsten in 1783 at the Seminary at Vergara in Spain, Peter Woulfe from Sweden first examined it in 1779.

Wilhelm Scheele investigated it in 1781, concluding that this was indeed a new metal.

(To the Europeans, anyway.)

The name “tungsten” came from the Swedish for “Heavy stone”.

On the periodic table, Tungsten is symbolized by the letter W.

This is from the German word “Wolfram”, meaning either “wolf’s cream” or “wolf’s soot”.

Johan Gottschalk Wallerius called it this in 1747.

Tin smiths found that this element ate through tin like a wolf. 

The Uses of Tungsten

Tungsten is a shiny, silvery-white metal.

At one time, it was a common element used in the manufacture of the filaments in incandescent light bulbs.

Remember back in the day when a bulb burnt out if you shook the bulb, you’d hear something rattling about?

That would be a thin wire of tungsten, burnt too thin and brittle to be of any further use.

While tungsten has the highest melting point of any metal (3414°Celsius, 6177°Fahrenheit, 3687 Kelvin) even it can only take so much.

The old tungsten bulbs produced heat more than they did light.

(Remember Easy Bake Ovens powered by light bulbs?)

The more energy efficient bulbs have rendered them obsolete. 

While old school light bulbs were formerly the most common usage of tungsten, there are still many other uses for it.

Because tungsten can handle heat so well, it is often used in arc-welding electrodes and heating elements in high-temperature furnaces.

The hardness of tungsten makes it useful in the mining industries.

And it’s not only rock and earth that tungsten is used to drill into!

High speed dentist drills are made with tungsten to make tooth drilling nearly painless. 

Tungsten is largely nontoxic.

If you have porcelain dishes treated with tungsten, they should be safe to eat from.

However, inhaling it or ingesting large amounts of it can lead to poisoning.

Even in these cases, the poisoning is due largely to other materials the tungsten was blended with.

Always use proper safety equipment when working with heavy metals. 

Tungsten is an element of both love and war.

It can be used to make wedding rings or bullets and missiles.

People who wear tungsten jewelry have to be careful when handling smartphones as the metal can easily scratch glass screens.

It was once a military custom in France for the soldiers to drink champagne from ammunition cases.

This was discontinued when it was realized that it was way more tungsten than was safe to ingest. 

Some more underhanded people use tungsten in counterfeiting gold bricks.

Gold and tungsten both have a 0.36 percent density.

If a block of tungsten is gold-plated, it can very easily be mistaken for a genuine gold bar. 

Where to Find Tungsten

China, Russia and Bolivia are the top three producers of tungsten. 

South Korea, Great Britain and Portugal are also good places to look for tungsten.

If you want to look for tungsten in the United States, you may want to try your luck in the mountainous areas of California or Colorado.

In China, the mountainous provinces of Hunan, Jiangxi, Fujian, Henana, Guangxi and Gansu.

Tungsten is never found in nature as a free element.

This element can commonly be found among the minerals wolframite, huebnertie, ferberite and scheelite.

Iron manganese is often found in the company of tungsten.

This rare element is believed to be somewhere around 1.5 parts per million in the Earth’s crust. 

The Symbolic Meaning of Tungsten

Because tungsten is so strong and solid, it has come to symbolize both strength and permanence.

Because of this, they are a popular choice for wedding bands.

Class and fraternity rings are made of tungsten as a symbol of undying loyalty and friendship.

(Helps that tungsten is cheaper than gold.) 

Ironically, hard metals are actually quite brittle.

A tungsten ring cannot be resized, and it can crack easily. 


Tungsten is a hard, solid element that can scratch glass.

Unfortunately, the rigidness of the element makes it easy to break, unlike the comparatively malleable gold and silver.

Tungsten may be almost as hard as diamond, but that almost makes it apt to breakage under enough force.

If you have tungsten in your collection, keep it separate from softer gems and minerals so as not to damage them.

Try not to expose it to heavy blows.

Keep it somewhere water and airtight to keep it from getting contaminated. 

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can tungsten scratch glass