Sand is a common material on Earth, yet there are not many things we know about it. The only fact we are aware of is its presence on beaches and in deserts. However, there’s more to these coarse particles than meets the eye.
Did you know that more than 10 types of sands are on this planet? And were you aware that the Sahara Desert only has grainy sand, which is different from the Gobi Desert, which has bare rocks? There are more facts about sand that will astonish you. So, let’s look at them and see the world contained in these sand particles!
11 Interesting Facts about Sand
1. Tan Is Not the Only Color of Sand
Sand particles are made up of minerals, and different regions of the world have different compositions of those minerals. Depending on the minerals that make up sand, the color can differ. Beaches are usually places with different colors of sand.
For example, beaches in Sunset Beach are made of silica, a hard quartz mineral that gives it a light tan color. However, if we were to take a closer look, we’ll see brown, pink, white, and black color particles. Similarly, beaches in Hawaii have white sand made of calcium carbonate, and Santorini, Greece, has black sand made from the black and red volcanic lava rocks.
2. Beach Sand Is Made of Silica…Though This Is Not Always the Case
Hard quartz, called silica, is the building block of grainy sand we all witness typically. They form naturally with a diameter of a millimeter. However, the sand we find on the beaches is not entirely silica. It is a composition of particles, including silica, shell, coral, and other biological materials.
Interestingly, this type of sand composition is that it’s not always created after materials break down. Sometimes, sand is just silica coated with minerals over time and becomes oolith, a special sand grain.
3. We Have More Than 10 Types of Sand on Earth
We know that sand is made up of a mixture of different particles and materials, including silica. However, these combinations make up more than 10 different types of sand. Silica is the most common sand on Earth that’s found in deserts and beaches. Besides that, we have flint, clay, coral, and more.
Flint sand is made up of sharp particles that can cut skin, and they are used in the manufacturing of glass. Clay sand is fine-grained and used to create pottery, bricks, and ceramic materials.
Coral sand is the product of broken coral skeletons. They are the ones we keep in aquariums and landscaping. There are more types of sand with fine, sharp, medium, and other compositions. They all occur naturally with different, fascinating textures, yet for us, they are all “sand.”
4. We Can’t Live without Sand Dunes
Sand dunes are part of our ecosystem, and we won’t be able to survive without them. They are created when the wind pulls sand in one place, creating a hill-like shape. We see dunes in deserts for the most part, but they are sometimes present on beaches too.
It’s not in our best interest to remove these dunes as they protect us from waves and wind. They become home to sea turtles and other animals who use these dunes to create their nests. The dunes are also vital for plants and coastal grass. Therefore, take a different path if you ever come across a dune.
5. Not All Sand Is Natural!
While the naturally-occurring types are more than 10, people still need more for various types of projects in construction and manufacturing. And that’s why there is artificial sand. It is created by crushing minerals and rocks.
Natural sand is costly and not readily available. Since it is not always feasible for construction projects, replacing it with artificial sand is the current solution. The reason for the unavailability of natural sand is the imprudence of humans. It takes years to create sand, yet we are using it at a rapid rate, not giving it enough time to form.
6. Sandcastles That Hold World Records
As part of the Skulptura projects in Binz, Germany, a sandcastle was erected in June 2019. It held the Guinness World Record of being the tallest at 57’ 11” in height until 2021. The local sand was not ideal for this project, so the participants imported sand from the Netherlands. The sandcastle looked like a real castle and was supposed to resemble the castle from Game of Thrones.
Besting it in 2021, the tallest sandcastle was created in Blokhus, Denmark by Skulpturparken Blokhus. The sandcastle was 69′ 5″ tall and made to increase tourism after COVID-19 restrictions. It helped local businesses and companies improve their economy.
7. A Whole Business Revolves around Sand
Legal and illegal activities are part of many industries. Sand is no different from such industries that make millions of dollars by selling or buying a product! Regardless of its natural availability, people have turned sand into a business, making millions off of it. Legally, coastal countries ship vast amounts of sand across waters to create man-made islands and extend their lands.
As for illegal activities, the high demand for sand has created a market that was worth $16 million a month in 2013! In fact, India has one of the most active sand mafias in the world. They are a notoriously violent entity that never backs away from making money off the sand.
8. Animals Are Not Fond of Living in the Sand
Sand is not consistent. It changes with time, temperature, environment, and human interference. Such unpredictable conditions are never a good option for a home. Animals, just like us, want their homes to feel safe and secure. Since sand cannot provide that, most animals stay away from it.
Beside some critters, such as crabs, crustaceans, beetles, and beach flies, who can manage living in the sand, many animals keep themselves away from it. Such critters can keep themselves protected from heat, cold, or predators. Sand is also a perfect home for sea turtles. They use the dunes to lay their eggs.
9. There’s Enough Life in Sand for Marine Microbiologists
While many animals prefer to stay away from the sand, there are still many nasty creatures living in the sand. Some of these organisms, especially the sand fleas, are small and dangerous creatures that can inhabit a person’s skin and lay eggs there after two weeks. Researchers have also found microbes on the surface of sand grains, which is the sole focus of many marine microbiologists.
These scientists are also experts at telling the origins of a sand sample simply by looking at the minerals and their grain size. However, in 2016, the experts determined that sand samples from rubber-soled shoes only contain particles from a recent location.
Grainy sand is a beautiful sight as long as it’s away from your body, towel, hair, and face. As soon as the grains touch a surface on your skin, they stick never to let go! Sand holds on to moisture that’s present in these places and becomes impossible to remove.
While a day on the beach is enjoyable, sand can make it sticky and make you leave as soon as possible. If you want to stay longer, you can use the powder trick to make it less sticky.
11. Sand Can Create Fossils
The elements inside our ecosystem have been around for ages. Sand is also a material that has traveled from one location to another over hundreds and thousands of years. It can travel long distances with wind and storms, ending up in places where it becomes a sandstone rock. Sand that has become a rock permanently stays in that location and becomes a fossil.
Such fossils are also created underwater when grains of sand come together on the sea bed, eventually becoming sandstones. The fascinating thing is, these sandstones in water can turn into the sand again under the right conditions!
The Amazing Life of Sand | Deep Look
There’s a story in every grain of sand: tales of life and death, fire and water. If you scooped up a handful of sand from every beach, you’d have a history of the world sifting through your fingers.
Sand may be a boring material for most of us, given its unchanging existence for a long time. However, it’s a fascinating element of this planet that we should explore as it contains so many truths!
The grains look like nothing when we hold them in our palm, but if we take a closer look, each sand grain is unique with its own history and properties. There is no place like sand on Earth, and we should be grateful that sand is willing to share Earth’s mysteries with us.
I’m Natalie Garcia and I started this website to share my love of trivia, facts and fun knowledge tidbits. We cover things like celebrity gossip, historical facts, tv shows, world leaders and just odd and random fun things. I started this site to have some fun with my hobby and share some useful information with you, our community. Please feel to send me your suggestions and feedback through the contact form. And if you have suggestions for things to write about, please shoot me a message!