To anneal glass, it is necessary to heat it to its annealing temperature, at which its viscosity, η, drops to 1013 Poise ("Poise" is a measure of absolute viscosity; 1 poise = 1 dyne-second/cm²). For most kinds of glass, this annealing temperature is in the range of 454–482 °C (850–900 °F), and is the so-called stress-relief point or annealing point of the glass. At such a viscosity, the glass still is too hard for significant external deformation without breaking, but it is soft enough to relax internal strains by microscopic flow in response to the intense stresses they introduce internally. The piece then heat-soaks until its temperature is even throughout and the stress relaxation is adequate. The time necessary for this step varies depending on the type of glass and its maximum thickness. The glass then is permitted to cool at a predetermined rate until its temperature passes the strain point (η = 1014.5 Poise), below which even microscopic internal flow effectively stops and annealing stops with it. It then is safe to cool the product to room temperature at a rate limited by the heat capacity, thickness, thermal conductivity, and thermal expansion coefficient of the glass. After annealing is complete the material can be cut to size, drilled, or polished without risk of its internal stresses shattering it.
At the annealing point (η = 1013 Poise), stresses relax within several minutes, while at the strain point (η = 1014.5 Poise) stresses relax within several hours. Stresses acquired at temperatures above the strain point, and not relaxed by annealing, remain in the glass indefinitely and may cause either short-term or much delayed failure. Stresses resulting from cooling too rapidly below the strain point largely are considered temporary, although they may be adequate to promote short-term failure.