Laser engraving glass - tried several methods, here are the results

Hi folks,

I plan to laser-engrave my spice jars with the name of the spices in them, and played around a bit to find out what works best, because I found zillions of tipps and methods on the net. Here’s my results with the 10W laser:

  • Just glass - nothing happens (was expected) - laser not absorbed.
  • Sharpie - make the region you want to engrave black/colored with a sharpie: Works! The glass crinkles nicely away!
  • Painter’s/masking tape: Works! Caveat: The tape burns and leaves soot in the engravings. Looks nice on first glance, but does not stick too well, so looks ugly quickly. And it is difficult to remove all soot, so looks ugly - all the time :slight_smile:
  • Wet paper tissue - put a thin paper tissue (kitchen paper, toilet paper) which is damp (not wet!) on the glass: Works actually! Was a bit surprised by that… But: The smallest bubble under the paper and you have a defect in engraving.
  • Dish washing detergent - smear detergent across the area to be engraved: Kindof works… First, nothing happens, until the detergent gets dry and sooty - then suddenly it works too well, glass cracks! So, heat control not good. I guess this tipp is more for IR lasers.
  • Color (used silver pen with varnish paint): Works, basically same as sharpie, but more difficult to remove afterwards.
  • Olive oil: Does not work.

So, Sharpie is simple and just works - I think that will be my go-to tool :slight_smile:

Regarding laser parameters with the 10W: I started off with 1000 mm/min and 100%, which is already too much! Glass overheats and cracks. Lowered to 50%, works fine. I guess for more control I may even switch to the 1.6 W laser - sometimes less is more.

And here are two images of how my glass (a standard jam jar) looked like after being tortured:

That was fun :slight_smile:


IPA + Titanium dioxide (or the tile method) works too if you want to give it a go. :slight_smile: Bonds the titanium to the glass and washes off under running water.


Looks nice! Thanks for pointing that out! I’ve read about the (Norton) white tile method - on Facebook for a while an enthusiastic user posted tons of images (on tiles actually) which also looked really nice.

What I am aiming at is however the nice, fine, subtle texture you find on truly etched glass (I guess they use hydroflouric acid) - my next tests will be trying to find the best parameters to get as close as possible to that.


Something kinda like this?


Dry moly spray lube works best for me. Most even coat.
Remove residue with acetone or lacquer thinner. (IPA works but more elbow grease.

Dry erase works just as well as sharpie but easier to remove. Sharpie removes with alcohol.



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Yes, kindof - basically that’s what I currently successfully get. I’d like it to be more silky and smooth, but it may turn out that laser is the wrong technology for that. If I cannot achieve it with acceptable effort, I’ll stay with the less-sophisticated results - getting a diamond-drill and milling it is currently out of question.

Dry moly is often mentioned - how do results compare to simple sharpie? What’s the gain?

Never heard of that one! How do results with Rust-oleum compare to other techniques?

That result was being a little painted glass “gem” and the light blue paint came right off with some acetone. Maybe test the cheapest paint you can, something that’ll absorb just enough energy to put into the glass, but not deposit anything when washed away.

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I can’t find any pics in my photos that I’m sure done with it. Sorry. I should be better about keep track of materials used.

Here is a good video of somebody showing what he done with it


I also wanted to try but never got around to purchase them…

Some people think it actually just powder coating Inks for laser color engraving? - #6 by jerdweez - Community Laser Talk - LightBurn Software Forum

Thanks all for the input! I still plan to continue my experiments with a sharpie, and perhaps will try another kind of paint/color for final comparison. The other suggestions mean buying something specifically for this - and having the spice names on my jars honestly is nothing I’d like to invest into. It’s really just a fun project. And, anything that intentionally leaves any kind of color is out too - really looking for the silky, soft texture of truly etched glass - this image somehow conveys it, but it is difficult to describe:

Not sure how close I get to that.

Look into vinyl stickers and chemical glass etching. The picture you posted looks to be perfect for this process. I have finished the guide on how to do this with help of snapmaker. Just need to post it.


Couple more pictures from the process


So I guess you cut the mask with the laser?

What exactly is the etching agent? AFAIK there’s not much on planet earth that can etch glass… hydroflouric acid is there, but that’s utterly dangerous to handle…

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I’ll send you a pdf version of the writeup in pm, don’t want to spill the beans for it while other things not ready yet.
I’ve tried 10w on vinyl (the right way) but didn’t like the burned edging.

Just to the add to the possible-coatings list: spray-chalk, as used in marking out lines on grass for various sports. Cheap, comes off easy, no fumes, no drying time. I never had much luck getting consistent coverage with sharpies.

In regards to the etching, there’s a glass etching cream out there.


can you recommend a particular brand of chalk spray?

Good question! I just got whatever was at the local hardware store in their spraypaint aisle. Pretty sure it was Rustoleum or Krylon, but the can isn’t where I stored it so it must have gotten used up or otherwise thrown out. A quick image search shows that it is called “Marking Chalk” and the Rustoleum can looks about right.

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