I know this cleared up some misconceptions I had regarding my old favorite, glow in the dark Vaseline Glass, a.k.a. Uranium Glass.
Written By Ben Marks 7/30/2014
These People Love to Collect Radioactive Glass. Are They Nuts? | Collectors Weekly
For many glass collectors, the only color that matters is Vaseline. That’s the catch-all word describing pressed, pattern, and blown glass in shades ranging from canary yellow to avocado green. Vaseline glass gets its oddly urinous color from radioactive uranium, which causes it to glow under a black light. Everyone who collects Vaseline glass knows it’s got uranium in it, which means everyone who comes in contact with Vaseline glass understands they’re being irradiated. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the gaffer making footed cake plates in a glass factory, the driver loading boxes of lace-edged compotes onto a truck, or the tchotchkes dealer setting out vintage Vaseline glass toothpick holders and tumblers for prospective customers—all of you are being zapped.
“If radioactivity is the thing that makes Vaseline glass cool, it’s not what makes Vaseline glass glow.”
Let's say your that tchotchkes dealer’s customer, and you decide to purchase those tumblers because you think their hue will go nicely with your lemony Formica kitchen table. Well, you just bought yourself four tumblers full of radioactive beta-waves. Go ahead and fill those tumblers with orange juice or milk, then serve these wholesome beverages to your adorable children. Now you’ve exposed your innocent lambs to even more radiation, since minute traces of the uranium in the glass can leach into whatever your kids are drinking, coating their throats and stomach linings with a cool, radioactive wash. After slaking your children’s thirst, carefully rinse those tumblers by hand to absorb sponge after sponge of even greater concentrations of radioactivity.
For the record, none of this matters, not even a little bit. Yes, canary glass, uranium glass, or Vaseline glass, as it became known in the early 20th century for its similar color to petroleum jelly, emits radiation, but the amounts are tiny, infinitesimal, ridiculously small. Our bodies are subjected to many times more radiation every day. We receive a daily dose of radioactive contamination from the gamma rays that make it through our atmosphere after hurtling through outer space, from the naturally occurring radionuclides present in the ground we walk upon, from the background radiation lingering in the materials used to build the places we call our homes.