How are marbles made?

Find out with Sir Sidney McSprocket!

Sir Sidney McSprocket’s been in action capturing facts – all about manufacturing!

Today he’s finding out all about marbles!

You don’t have to be a genius to have figured out that the main ingredient of a marble is glass!

It makes them very hard and gives them that rather lovely chinking noise.

Glass is made from a mix of sand, soda lime, silica and other ingredients added for decoration. Recycled glass is also often used.

Step one of making a marble is pretty extreme! The raw materials are fed into enormous furnaces and heated for more than a day to over 1,200 degrees Celsius. That’s enough to melt it into a thick sticky liquid.

The sticky liquid is then pushed out of the furnace in a long sausage, and a cutting machine slices it into equal globs of molten glass.

These globs slide down chutes on spinning cast iron rolls – it’s this rolling that creates the perfect spherical shape. It also helps the newly formed marbles to cool.

Some marbles have a rather lovely swirl inside them. This is achieved by inserting different coloured glass inside the globs before they are rolled into shape.

The marbles will be sorted into sizes, and those which are too big or too small will be sent for recycling. A final polish removes any dirt and they’re ready for packaging.

Marbles come in a tremendous range of colours with swirls in every shade. Incredible to think that in the past they managed to achieve similar effects only using the heat of the furnace and the glassworker’s skills!

Sidney McSprocket is Fun Kids’ resident inventor!

When he’s not in Edinburgh, tinkering with wacky contraptions in his workshop, he’s finding out all about manufacturing!

In the latest series, Sidney is finding out about a whole load of everyday objects from tin cans and toothbrushes to plastic bottles and Pyrex…

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Sidney McSprocket’s How’s it Made, with support from the Royal Commission for the Exhibition 1851.

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