Home > Environment & Meteorology > What is Sand?

What is Sand?

By: Suzanne Elvidge BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 29 Jun 2013 |
 
What Is Sand?

Sand is a mixture of small grains of rock, ranging in size from 0.0625 mm to 2 mm. Sand is made by erosion and weathering of rocks – seas or rivers carry pebbles that chip small pieces off rocks, and freezing and thawing during the winter breaks rocks up. Sand on beaches can also be made up of small broken-up pieces of coral, bone and shell, which are broken up by predators and then battered by the sea, and even tiny pieces of glass from bottles discarded in the sea.

The colour of sand depends on the rocks that it is made of – this can vary from white, through yellow and brown, to black. Someone who collects sand is called an arenophile or psammophile.

Looking At Sand

Get some samples of sand from different places – a sand pit, a beach, the edge of a river, gardener’s sand and builder’s sand. Make sure that it is dry, and then spread it thinly on a piece of black paper. Look at it through a magnifying glass. Are all the grains in each kind of sand the same colour and same size as each other? Are there any differences in colour, size and shape between the different kinds of sand?

Put a bit of the sand in a saucer and pour a little bit of vinegar over it. What happens? If there are tiny bubbles, these are carbon dioxide, and are formed when the acid in the vinegar reacts with the calcium carbonate in the fragments of shells, coral or bone (see ‘Acids and Alkalis: Making Gases’).

Make a Timer

Get two small clean, dry jars of the same size. Put some dry sand into one small jar, and cover the top of the jar with stiff paper, taping it down securely so no sand will leak out. Make a small hole in the paper. Tape the necks of the two jars together, and then turn the time upside down. How long does it take for the sand to pour through? What difference does a bigger or smaller hole make, or using less or more sand?

Water Rising Through Sand

Fill a glass with dry sand. Hold a plate flat over the top of the glass, and carefully turn the whole thing over. Pour a little water on the plate and watch it climb up through the sand by capillary action. Try it with different types of sand – is it faster or slower?

The Uses of Sand

Sand has many uses in industry, and even at home. Sandpaper (paper with coarse or fine sand grains glued to it) is used to smooth rough surfaces on wood, and to strip off paint. Sand is used to make moulds for casting molten metal. Sand is used to make cement and mortar, and a type of sand (quartz sand) is the main ingredient in making glass.

Just For Fun

Make sand castles or try sand painting – colour sand using food colouring, let it dry, paint a pattern on paper and then sprinkle coloured sand over. Gently tip the sand off and let it dry, and then add more glue patterns and another colour.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
There must be a lot of years the earth was form with moveable weather?
Domo - 29-Jun-13 @ 3:09 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • Rea
    Re: Making an Emulsion
    I have always wondered about the Earth. My teacher gave us this website to read about why water and oil don't mix. I started looking around on…
    16 May 2019
  • Candytashy
    Re: Looking at Soil Profiles
    Thanks so much for this post .it really helped me .made my homework much easier and l have learnt a lot from this post
    25 March 2019
  • Rajput
    Re: Pulling and Pushing: Magnetic Attraction
    Kya kisi chemical ko copper me mix karne se iron or steel ko push kiya ja sakte hai. Yadi ho to formula batye.
    25 March 2019
  • AT LIFE
    Re: Soap and Detergent Chemistry
    Thanks you so much because you help different students especially science who went be a perfect a part of chemistry
    22 March 2019
  • AT LIFE
    Re: Soap and Detergent Chemistry
    Thanks you so much because you help d/f students especially science who went be a perfect a part of chemistry like me.
    22 March 2019
  • Ban
    Re: Pulling and Pushing: Magnetic Attraction
    Sir, I found that in magnet the needle attract one side and repulsive other side pls give me the answer
    6 March 2019
  • falcon
    Re: Growing Plants in Different Soils
    this has been very helpful for my science experiment thank you
    19 February 2019
  • Suzwriter
    Re: A Bending Bone
    The bones soaked in water won't change - it's the acid that affects the bones. And eating acid foods doesn't change the pH of the body so won't…
    12 February 2019
  • soloh
    Re: Melting Points for Different Solids
    Could you please practically research whether candle wax can melt at room temperature under reduced pressure?
    6 February 2019
  • asli
    Re: A Bending Bone
    vinegar has acid so if we eat something that contains acid which is bad for bones so what will happen if we eat something that contains Acid!?
    14 January 2019