What is Glassine Paper, & How is it Used in Packaging?

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The constant juggle between keeping your packaging solutions sustainable, practical, and stylish has always been a challenge for every business owner. This is where glassine comes in, with its distinct characteristics and usefulness. The perfect alternative for various packaging needs, this biodegradable material is a great way to make your business stand out. 

People often need clarification on glassine, plastic, wax, or parchment paper. However, glassine is the most recyclable and eco-friendly of all. 

What Actually is Glassine Paper?


“A paper made from wood pulp and plant fibres undergoes a series of rollers to get a denser and shinier surface that is air, water, and greaseproof while remaining eco-friendly is known as glassine paper.”

How is Glassine Made?

How is glassine made

The process starts with pulping hardwood trees that vary from aspen to oak and birch. In this step, the wood chips are cooked under pressure with several chemicals to separate lignin from other substances and cellulose fibres. 

The separation of lignin is crucial because if it remains in the pulp during bleaching, it will make the glassine paper discoloured and brittle over time. Removing lignin will ultimately make the glassine paper resistant to certain elements. 

The remaining wood fibres are then further treated with bleaches and dyes to fit the coveted colour and type. Further, the mixture of watery pulp is moved toward the paper machine, where the substantial fibre mats drain the excess water, forming intertwined paper sheets. To remove every drop of water from the damp sheets, it is passed through roller presses and then to drying machines. 

The Super Calendering Process


The final step in making glassine paper is super calendaring. Here, the term calendar means hard-pressure cylinders or rollers that help smooth the surface of the paper by pressing them in between. 

The glossy, unique, and translucent surface of glassine paper is achieved by this process, which is completed by passing the paper through a series of rollers multiple times, or more often, with either a heated or cooled pressurized calendar. 

Super-calendaring machines work on the principle of using high-speed pressure with heat and friction to make the paper polished and upscale its density with a reduction in porosity. This process not only makes the paper resistant to some elements but also eliminates the need for wax or plastic coatings. 

How Does Glassine Get Its Unique Look?


As its name suggests, glassine paper achieves its significant appeal primarily through its clarity, allowing you to glimpse what’s on the other side of the paper or inside if used as a package. 

The super-calendaring process and its degree greatly influence the level of measuring density and translucency of the final product. If the end product is cheaper in quality or sacrifices clarity, it is due to unsatisfied super calendaring or insufficient calendaring pressure.

However, the premium and ultimate product is due to the fine-tuned process that determines the paper’s weight, thickness, clarity, brightness, smoothness, strength, and grade. 

Moreover, its influenced density and thickness depict how superiorly bursting, tensile strengthened, folding endurant, and stiffened the glassine is when compared to papers of similar weight. 

It typically ranges from 40-90 grams per square meter (gms), making it distinctive among other paper types.

Glassine possesses a tight calliper tolerance (accurate thickness measurement) of 0.01 millimetres. High-quality glassine is durable, which makes it a reliable choice for various envelopes and packaging applications. 

Pros & Cons of Glassine 


  1. Glassine paper is translucent, allowing for visibility of the contents beneath it, which can be helpful for packaging or preserving items while still showcasing their appearance.
  1. It is naturally resistant to grease, air, and moisture, making it an excellent choice for packaging items that require protection from these elements.
  1. It has a smooth and glossy surface, which can enhance the visual appeal of printed materials and provide a luxurious feel.
  1. It is often considered more environmentally friendly than plastic or wax-coated papers, as it is typically biodegradable and does not require additional coatings.
  1. It is denser and more robust than paper types of similar weight, offering more outstanding durability and resistance to tearing or puncturing.


  1. While glassine paper’s translucency can benefit specific applications, it may need to provide more opacity for packaging materials where complete concealment of the contents is desired.
  1. It can be more expensive than standard paper or alternative packaging materials, impacting its suitability for budget-conscious projects or applications.
  1. It may become brittle or lose its properties in extreme temperatures, affecting its performance in specific environments.
  1. It can generate static electricity, which may attract dust or cause handling difficulties in certain situations.
  1. Due to its high resistance to moisture and other liquids, the printing possibilities are limited. The smooth surface only allows for some texturing, making it unsuitable for printing because of the longevity of drying times.

Sustainable attributes 

Glassine paper boasts several sustainable attributes, positioning it as an environmentally friendly packaging and preservation material. Derived from renewable wood pulp sources, it is biodegradable and minimally treated during production, reducing its environmental impact. 

Additionally, its recyclability, sustainable practices, and energy-efficient production methods further enhance its eco-friendliness. Glassine’s ability to prolong product shelf life, reduce food waste, and promote reusability contributes to its overall reduced environmental impact. 

As a result, glassine paper emerges as a preferred choice for those seeking packaging solutions aligned with principles of environmental responsibility and conservation.

Comparison with other types of paper 

People find it difficult to choose between glassine and similar papers regarding usage and other characteristics. However, from plastic to wax paper, prominent differences exist among every different type. 

AttributesGlassine PaperParchment Paper Wax PaperPlastic Bags
Environmental ImpactBiodegradable, recyclable, made from renewable wood pulp sources.Generally compostable, but additives like silicone coatings may hinder biodegradability.Not recyclable or compostable due to wax coatings, contributing to landfill wasteNon-biodegradable, made from fossil fuels, contribute to environmental pollution.
TransparencyTranslucent, provides visibility for contents.Opaque, does not allow visibility through the paper.Translucent, but less clear than glassine.Transparent or opaque, depending on the material.
Grease & Moisture ResistantNaturally resistant to grease, air, and moisture.Resistant to grease and moisture to some extent.Provides a barrier against moisture and grease due to wax coatings.Generally waterproof and resistant to grease.
Strength & DurabilityOffers high density and strength, making it suitable for packaging delicate items.Moderate strength and durability, often used for baking and cooking.Relatively weaker, it is suitable for wrapping but may tear easily.Durable and tear-resistant.

Glassine paper’s application in packaging 


Glassine paper has earned its worth because of its exceptional features and qualities. People are curious to know what it is made of and how it stands out in the packaging industry. 

This sustainable and eco-friendly material has emerged as a star in the world of packaging, especially in the food, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic packaging industries, where the product’s freshness should be sealed and preserved until it reaches the consumer.

It also shares similarities with mylar bags, a popular choice because of their ability to resist moisture and provide an air-tight seal. Its non-porous and non-absorbent nature effectively does not allow oxygen or moisture to pass through, which can threaten the product’s quality. From bakery and confectionary items to frozen foods, glassine paper ensures that freshness and quality are maintained.

Due to its biodegradable and recycled nature, it has proven to be a perfect alternative to plastic packaging. It is renowned for its eco-friendly attributes and possesses pH neutrality, acid-free composition, and nontoxicity. 

Manufactured under FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification, it also portrays its environmental credentials, which are employed across various sectors such as apparel and medicine, where it reduces plastic polybag waste while offering an enjoyable unpacking experience to the consumer.


Glassine paper has emerged as the most preferred and effective packaging material in terms of cost and quality. With its high density and numerous features that provide efficiency and quality, it has replaced most other materials in the packaging industry. From glassine envelopes to bags and other forms of packaging, glassine paper has transformed the way packaging is done because of its recyclability and biodegradability.


About Stephen Fowler

About Stephen Fowler

Meet Stephen, our skilled writer at IBEX. With a degree in Packaging Sciences, Stephen brings expertise in simplifying every industry detail more efficiently. His years of experience in R&D and technical expertise have always been helpful for our audience. The best part about Stephen is that he has always provided consistent and valuable insights into the packaging industry, ensuring that our reader is always up to date with the latest practices.

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