ALL ABOUT CRYSTAL SINGING BOWLS
By Jamie Bechtold
I have been playing sound baths with gongs and crystal singing bowls for the past 15 years. Like many, I have heard a lot of misinformation and lies about the crystal bowls and because of that, have done a lot of research to find out the truth about them. For me, finding out the truth has not swayed my opinion of the bowls, as I choose them based on their sound as that is my primary use for them. My approach is to choose instruments based first on the sound, and then on the aesthetics. Many of the bowls are beautiful looking and that can be reason enough to spend the extra money on them, regardless of what they are actually made of.
Not everyone will like to learn the truth about the crystal singing bowls and if you find yourself disagreeing with me I invite you to do your own research. Most of this information is quite easy to find if you are open to looking.
Crystal Singing Bowls were born in the solar industry and are technically called Quartz Crucibles. If you look up the term “quartz crucible” you will see what we call “crystal singing bowls.” The most common crystal singing bowls you will see are frosted, however there are also clear ones, and frosted ones that have been polished to be very smooth on the outside. There are also ones with gem/mineral powder which are discussed below.
WHERE THEY ARE MADE
95% of crucibles used for sound therapy are made in China, and a few in Korea. It’s pretty safe to assume that all crystal singing bowls are born in China. There is at least one company in the US making them, however they are super high grade and not what we would use in the sound therapy world, as they run about $5000 a piece. Some companies claim their bowls are made in the US. The silica sand may be from the US, however the actual bowls are made in China. The bowls can also be “finished” in the US, allowing them to say they are made here.
WHAT THEY ARE MADE OF
Crystal Singing Bowls are made of HPQ sand, which is High Purity Quartz powder. When making a crucible, the silica sand is heated and the quartz is fused. At this point, what may have started as crystalline quartz is now amorphous and does not contain the same properties as a raw quartz crystal. Crystal singing bowls are glass, or could even be called “crystal glassware.” It’s important to note that ALL glass starts as silica sand. This can be tested with an oscillator...raw quartz is piezoelectric whereas amorphous quartz is not. Now this doesn’t matter much for musical purposes as we just need them to sound good and resonate strongly. Amorphous quartz resonates very well, as we can hear with the bowls.
According to “HPQ Quartz,” a company that provides the silica sand for quartz crucibles, solar grade crucibles must be at least 99.997% purity. The crystal singing bowls we play are lower purity than this, which is fine for musical purposes but makes them “rejects” in the solar industry because they have too many impurities (impurities create bubbles and defects that only experts would notice). Most crystal singing bowls are said to be 99.99% quartz, for example Crystal Tones states that their bowls are 99.992% purity (this is on the front page of their website), which is too low to be solar grade. Thus, the crystal singing bowls we use for sound therapy, are lower grade quartz crucibles that are amorphous and resonate nicely, creating strong sounds that we enjoy.
HOW THEY ARE TUNED
It is pretty much impossible to tune crucibles, so companies in the US receive a large shipment of them and then test them to see what their tuning is. They are then labeled by note. Some will be called “perfect pitch,” which means they are in the 440Hz scale. You will now also see 432Hz ones. Some companies label them by chakra, which has no scientific backing. I will not go into the notes and chakra stuff in this post as I believe it has been posted about plenty before.
There are also crystal singing bowls that are fused with mineral powder. They are beautiful and many people are drawn to them because of their gorgeous colors. These bowls start as either frosted or clear crystal singing bowls (made in China) and then a mineral/gem/metal coating is fused to the outside of the bowl (in the US). It’s not painted, but fused with high heat and vacuum. Many people believe these bowls are actually made of the gem, however the bowl must still be made of silica sand, otherwise the bowl would not have the same resonant sound. There is some amount of mineral/gem but it is a pretty small amount. To be clear, these bowls are also glass and have a very small amount of other minerals (such as rose quartz, emerald etc.). The amount of other minerals has to be small enough to still allow the bowl to play well - if too much of other minerals were added, the bowl would not sound as clear and resonant.
To sum everything up, crystal singing bowls are glass bowls that have a clear resonant sound. Since we are doing sound therapy, it is the sound that matters most although aesthetics definitely have a role as we tend to like things that are pretty. All the bowls have the same core structure regardless of whether they are coated in minerals or not. I hope this information is useful for those trying to find out the truth about crystal singing bowls.