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How To Choose The Best Playsand For Your Sandbox

Playsand Essentials to Choosing the Best Playsand for you Sandbox

We created this series to help parents, teachers, and therapists know how to evaluate playsand to make sure they are getting the best sand for their kids. Over the years we have heard parents say they will never let their kid play in the sandbox because it is dirt, but there may be more playsand options than you think.

What Makes A Good Playsand

To have safe, clean, and fun playsand it must pass these four tests:
  1. The Nuisance Dust Test
  2. The Sugar Test
  3. The Sandcastle Test
  4. The Playsand Safety Test
Jerry Bergosh has been a geologist for over 40 years and wants to share his knowledge of sands with everyone. Many people only consider the sandbox, but not the sand they put into their sandbox. Armed with these four tests you can be sure you are getting the best playsand for your children, grandchildren, or students. In this series we analyzed 5 different sources where you can purchase playsand:
  • Home improvement Store Playsand
  • Big Box Store Playsand
  • Beach Sand
  • Educational Store Playsand
  • Online Playand
Jurassic Sands wanted to be as impartial as we could be so we don’t identify any of the tested sands by name.

The Nuisance Dust Test

Purpose of the Nuisance Dust Test

The nuisance dust test was designed to illustrate how certain sands that have not been cleaned properly will result in dust clouds. This test helps illustrate how smaller or finer particles can float when played with causing dust clouds. We used 25-50 lbs of the playsands we tested and poured from waist high against a black backdrop to illustrate how much dust certain ‘playsand’ can contain.

Why Your Sand Needs To Pass the Nuisance Dust Test

If your sand isn’t washed properly finer particles of the sand can cause dust clouds. These dust clouds get your children’s clothes dirty, their hands dirty and can affect asthma of allergies for children and adults alike.

How You Can Perform The Nuisance Dust Test At Home

The test is very simple to perform at home, but can be very revealing. We recommend you perform this test outside.
  1. Fill a clear container (about 1 quart or 4 cups) of your sandbox sand Pour the sand onto a plate or the plastic container found under most pots work great
  2. Pour your sand 6”-12” above the container. The faster you pour the more potential finer particles (or dust) will become airborne Important note: No matter how fast you pour, if there is a dust cloud your sand has failed this test
  3. If particles clearly become airborne then you sand has not been washed and sieved properly and contains many different sized particles

Why Do Some Sands Fail The Nuisance Dust Test

Some sands fail the Nuisance Dust Test because they are not natural sands. These sands were most likely created in a quarry by smashing large rocks into smaller and smaller particles. Even after being crushed and proceed many don’t receive the correct amount of sifting or washing to remove these non uniform particles. This process creates and allows varying sizes of the sand grains which results in smaller or finer particles that many would call dust or dirt. These different sized sand grains take us to our next test, The Sugar Test.

The Sugar Test

Purpose of The Sugar Test

The sugar test is the perfect test to make sure you have a uniform sand for your kid’s sandbox. This test helps illustrate how certain sands contain foreign particles or varying grain sizes. When sands are crushed and not created by natural erosion you get sand with large pebbles and dust. When you do this test you should think of pure white sugar, because sugar is uniform in color, grain size, and texture.

Why Your Sand Needs To Pass The Sugar Test

If your playsand fails the sugar test it most likely wants naturally made by mother nature. When your sand has different grain sizes this is a great indicator that your sand will be coarse, dirty, dusty, and can be difficult to create sandcastles or molds. Many don’t know there are multiple options when it comes to sand for your sandbox. The uniformity in grain size ensure consistent texture, less likelihood of being dusty, and help keep your kids hands and clothes cleaner after playing in the sandbox.

How You Can Perform The Sugar Test At Home

The test is very simple to perform at home, but can be very revealing when you really evaluate the grains of sand in your sandbox. We recommend you perform this test outside and can be performed directly after the Nuisance Dust Test.

Grain Sifter

  1. With a simple kitchen strainer scope up samples of your sand after performing the Nuisance dust test or select a random sample from your sandbox
  2. After sifting the sand if there are large particles left in the kitchen strainer then your sand has failed the sugar test

Ziplock Bag

  1. Place a random sample of sand into your ziplock bag
  2. Tap the bag against a table or your hand
  3. After about 5-10 taps the finer grains of the sand will shift to the bottom and the larger grains towards the top of the bag
  4. If there are distinguishable difference between the grain sizes your sand has failed the sugar test

Why Do Some Sands Fail The Sugar Test

Some sands fail the the Sugar Test because they are not uniform in size because they were forced from large rocks into playsand. By crushing and pulverizing rocks results in different grain sizes. Playsands that have been naturally formed over eons of erosion have a uniform texture, grain size, and will not contain foreign particles as long as the playsand as been washed and sifted correctly. With uniform grain size this results in the best building material for children especially when it comes to making sandcastles our next test. Special note: The sugar test is not concerned with a uniform color of the sand, because natural sands across the world are not always the same color.

The Sandcastle Test

Purpose of The sandcastle Test

The sandcastle Test is an obvious test to show how different playsand sources will perform when making sandcastles, crucial to a child’s enjoyment! We have developed a system to ensure you have the right amount of water to build a perfect sandcastle!

Why Your Sand Needs To Pass The sandcastle Test

Obviously if your sand fails the sandcastle test it will greatly affect your child’s ability to build develop, dig, and explore their creativity in the sandbox. Sand with uniform grain sizes will keep your child cleaner and build taller, stronger, and more detail sandcastles. This is also a great indicator for how well your child could build other structure in the sandbox; bridges, molds, and cities of structures.

How You Can Perform The Sandcastle Test At Home

A simple test anyone can perform, but a few tips to get the best results and make better sandcastles with your kids.

The Sandball Test

The most important piece to creating a detailed strong sandcastle is having the correct amount of water. The sandball test ensures you have the right amount of water for every sandcastle.
  1. Add water to your sand
  2. Make a sand ball much like a snowball
  3. Roll and shake the sand ball in a single hand
  4. If the ball cracks or falls apart you will want to add more water
  5. Once the ball stays together you have the perfect amount of water in your sand

Making the Perfect Sandcastle

Once you have the right amount of water you will want to pack in your sand and tap your mold to get it release easier for best results. But we all know that the most important piece is to have a safe clean sand that all children will be able to develop their motor skills through building, digging, creating, and exploring their creativity.

Why Do Some Sands Fail The sandcastle Test

Some sand is not ideal for sandcastles because of the varying sand grain sizes.

The Playsand Safety Test

Jurassic sands wanted to include this section, because we have seen many claims online about the safety of playsand.