Etching Glass

Etched engraving can enhance the appearance of mirrors, glassware, windows, ceramics, porcelain, and marble. The art of etching can be accomplished by almost anyone by using stencils and other basic materials. It is important to know there are both caustic and non-caustic etching materials on the market. With a few basic tools and the advice given here, you can etch designs into glass.


  • The specific supplies you need for glass etching can be purchased at craft stores, often in kits. You need a brush to apply the etching cream, disposable gloves for added skin protection, tape and a design or stencil. You also need safety goggles, a container of water and paper towels. It is important to clean the glass thoroughly so the etching cream can adhere properly.


  • Etching gives glass distinctive look. It can be used to add monograms and other designs to stemware and other serving pieces, vases and decorations.


  • Etching adds a frosted, foggy appearance and a dry feeling to glass surfaces. It does not affect the function or durability of the glass, however. The cream etches the glass, creating an opaque finish that can be painted or used as is.


  • There are caustic and non-caustic etching materials on the market.Caustic etching material comes in a creme that is applied to a clean glass surface. It is widely used and contains ammonium biflouride, a chemical that is not harmful to skin if it is washed off with soap and water within one minute. It does smell like ammonia and should not be inhaled for long periods of time.The leftover cream from any project can be re-used and stored in the same container it came in. Simply wipe it off and put it back into the original container. Rinse the surface and let it dry.

    Non-caustic etching material comes in a liquid, paintable form and can be purchased in craft store paint departments. These products offer the same results without the fumes of caustic materials and dry quickly with very little, if any, mess. This material is painted on with a brush and allowed to air dry.


  • If the etching cream gets on your skin, rinse immediately under cold running water. Always read the manufacturer’s instructions and follow them carefully.Do not allow children to handle or use etching cream.If you have allergies, read the manufacturer’s information carefully before using etching cream.