Sand Facts & Figures

Here at Online Sand we thought we’d put together a list of 10 interesting facts and figures all about sand. From the downright impressive to the slightly strange, this list highlights just how useful sand is with its many implications.

1) What Is Sand?

Sand is mainly made up of silicon dioxide. What used to be an amalgamation of different rocks is gradually eroded over millions of years (wind, rain and freezing/thawing cycles). A grain of sand can typically have a diameter between 2mm 1/16mm.

2) Whistling Sand

There are in fact places in the world where you will hear sand whistle, bark or generally make an odd sound. It’s a strange phenomenon that has baffled scientist as to what exactly causes the emission of sound. However, theories do exist and certain factors must occur for the sound to be heard. The factors are: that the sand grains must be between 0.1 and 0.5 mm in diameter, the sand must contain silica and the sand must be at a particular humidity.

3) Building The Perfect Sand Castle

Building sandcastles are probably one of those memories that a lot of us have as a child. The imagination runs wild and after a while of moulding and sculpting we stand back to behold the magnificence that we have created. Well, this is what I probably told myself as they may not have been that good. However, I wasn’t privy to the water/sand ratio that would have served me well. The recommended amount is 8:1, 8 parts dry sand and 1 part water. This amount should bind the sand together nicely so you can sculpt away without it being too messy or not strong enough to stay together.

4) The Egg Timer

It may now be a technology of a bygone era, however, the egg timer we know of today was an invention that kept time in a number of applications. But where did the egg timer originate? Well, the egg timer itself is a direct relative of the hourglass. An instrument that measures time based on how long it takes for the tiny grains of sand to pass between two glass bulbs merged at the centre by a small passage. The origin of the hourglass is a bit grainy, however early examples were seen in ancient Egypt, known as water clocks. The hourglass was only commonly seen in the 14th century.

5) Uses For Sand

Sand has many uses. So many in fact, it can boggle the mind. For example, it’s commonly known uses range from play sand, for use in the building industry with concrete, bricks and glass and for use on roads when the cold, icy weather hits us. So what other uses are there? Well, did you know that it’s also used in the production of silicon computer chips? There’s obviously a lot that goes into it however at its core it is sand.

6) Sandy Soils

Sandy soils are often seen as favourable for a few reasons. Amongst others, it’s good for water drainage which in turn allows more oxygen and nutrients to get to the soil (if this is a particular problem in your garden) and the soil tends to warm up quicker than a clay based soil in spring time.

7) World’s Tallest Sand Castle

The tallest sand castle in the world was created in 2015 by Ted Siebert and a team of 19 on behalf of Turkish Airlines. It was created in Miami, Florida, USA with the sandcastle eventually measuring 13.97 metres tall (45ft 10.25 in). The mammoth effort was verified by the Guinness world records and took an enormous 1,800 tonnes of sand to construct. See here for more details.

8) Green Sand Beaches

Yes, green sandy beaches are a thing. Although, it’s worth saying that they are a rare occurrence. I had to look at a few pictures to see if it was real. One of the most well-known green beaches is in Hawai’i and is called Papakōlea Beach. So what makes it green? This is due to the beach being located near a cinder cone (small pieces of lava left behind following an eruption of a volcano). This cinder cone is mainly comprised of olivine, a material containing magnesium and iron with the colour coming from the olivine crystals. However, it’s a phenomenon that mostly likely will not last due to the cinder cone eventually eroding.

9) Construction Industry In Saudi Arabia

This fact is a slightly ironic one. As we know, Saudi Arabia is mostly comprised of vast sandy deserts however the sand that is so apparent cannot be used in the construction industry. Why I hear you ask? This is due to the sand being too fine. Therefore, they have no option but to import sand. Who would have thought it!

10) The Mythical Sandman

The Sandman is a mythical character that is said to originate from central Europe. It may seem a little odd now, however parents would tell the story of the Sandman hoping that it would help lull their children to sleep. The tale goes that just after you’ve actually fallen asleep he would come to sprinkle sand into your eyes which would in turn give good dreams to those people. This would then leave sandy remnants in the corner of the eyes the following morning.

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