There is actually a somewhat scientific definition of sand: It is loose grains of rocks or minerals that are less than one-twelfth of an inch in diameter but larger than one four-hundredth of an inch in diameter. This size makes sand just right for a variety of uses. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that sand is found nearly everywhere on earth from the bottom of the sea to deserts and beaches.
Sand can be fine, coarse or gravelly. Furthermore, it does not need to be made of any one kind of rock or mineral. Because of this, a type of sand that is good for one use may not be good for another. Quartz sand, for example, is excellent for making glass. Sand suppliers go through a process of sand grading, which makes it easier for customers to find the sand that is right for their purposes. For example, the fine sand that would fill a sandbox for a child to play in would not be the same grade a homeowner would use to fill the spaces between flagstone pavers in their backyard. In addition, both are different from the sand used to make concrete.
Sand also comes in a rainbow of colors, from the snowy-white sands of New Mexico, which are made largely of gypsum, to the black sand of Hawaii, made of volcanic rock, to the pink sand of the beaches of Bermuda, which come from tiny bits of pink coral.
Among the many uses for sand are the following:
• On the floors of corrals, show rings and horse arenas
• To create soft landings for playgrounds
• For bunkers and sand traps in golf courses
• To add to topsoil to improve its drainage
• For volleyball courts
• To add to clay to make bricks
• To make mortar
• As an additive to paint to give interesting textures to walls and ceilings
• To improve traction on roads, driveways and walkways when the surface is icy
• To improve traction of railroad beds
• To make sandbags to protect against floods and incoming ordnance
• To clean and polish surfaces (from sandpaper to sandblasting)
• To filter contaminants out of water
Getting the Sand You Need
Sand can also be used for sand-casting tools and instruments, as a substrate for marine aquaria and to build up beaches that have been eroded. The amount and type of sand that customers need can be filled by sand suppliers such as Western Materials. Thankfully, it’s easy to find just the right variety you require.