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...
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Mosey Cook
    Re: Make Yoghurt and Grow Yeast
    This article on natural yeast and good bacteria has been the best read I’ve read on the Internet
    1 November 2019
  • Tee
    Re: Vibrations: Seeing and Feeling Sound
    I have just witnessed a fork vibrating so fast on its own on the kitchen top. It made a sound while vibrating as if the…
    24 August 2019
  • simran panaich
    Re: Soap and Detergent Chemistry
    thnx!! It helped me a lot !!! THank YOu so much
    6 June 2019
  • Mar2
    Re: Why Oil and Water Don't Mix
    I am doing this as a demo for homogeneous mixture examples. It really helps, it is interesting, and thank you so much for it!!!
    5 June 2019
    Re: Why Oil and Water Don't Mix
    Why does the food coloring mix with the water i did not quite get iy
    31 May 2019
    Re: Looking at Soil Profiles
    This thing is stupid. I am a doctor and I know better then you do! I will do something about this website if you don’t change the…
    25 May 2019
  • Alice Picello
    Re: Looking at Soil Profiles
    25 May 2019
  • 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