Sand, It's Not Just For Beaches
Sand is one of the most common
materials on the earth's surface. It is a naturally
occurring material resulting from the physical and
chemical breakdown of rocks. Sand is derived from many
rock types some of which are calcium carbonate
(limestone), aluminum silicate (feldspar) or silicon
dioxide (quartz). Many products used in everyday life are
made from sand. Different kinds of sand are used for
varying industrial purposes. For example, sand used for
cement and concrete can be very different in physical and
chemical composition than sand used in the making of
fiberglass, or container glass.
Sand has a significant value to
society. Children play in it, vacationers relax on it,
and the general population relies on products made or
derived from it. Many people see sand as readily
available and relatively simple to find. However, this is
not always true. It takes time and money to develop a
deposit to produce sand products to be used for
construction and industrial uses. Without certain types
of sand, countries would not have glass products, iron
and steel components for cars and trucks, steel
structures, and concrete and asphalt for roads, bridges
Sand and gravel are sometimes dug up from under water in
an excavation called a pit. A dredge is commonly used.
Dredges, often as large as a three-story house, floats in
a natural or artificial pond. It uses buckets on a
continuous chain or rotary cutting heads and a suction
hose to remove material from below the water surface.
Equipment on the dredge separates mineral particles from
the sand and gravel. Boom conveyors on the dredge then
deposit the waste in the area already mined. A large
dredge can handle 1,000 tons of gravel per hour.
The construction aggregate industry is the largest
consumer of sand for use in concrete and asphalt
products. Another large consumer of sand is the container
Container or (Flat) Glass
Flat glass is
produced for residential housing and office buildings.
Specialty products like containers, mirrors and table
tops use flat glass.
Fiberglass or glass wool
manufacturing is a large volume user in the construction
industry. Fiberglass insulation is most often used in the
construction of new homes and office buildings to help
control heating and cooling as well as noise. It is also
Foundry sand is used in
creating cores and molds used in the casting of iron,
steel, copper and aluminum products. In construction,
steel and iron beams-known as girders-are used in the
building of bridges, large office buildings and some
homes. Copper pipes, aluminum supports and even the
hardware and hand tools used in construction had their
origins at the foundry. Foundry sand is the second
Sand is used in the
construction industry as an abrasive to clean metal,
Construction Related Products
Sand is used in stucco, plaster,
roofing, bricks, grout, non-skid floors, paint, plastics,
Sand is used on the backs of
roofing shingles as a non-stick component and in some
bricks, cement, stucco and plaster for color, strength
and weatherability. Sand is used as a flattening agent in
paint and dispersant for pesticides. It also improves
toughness, increases scrubability, prevents chalking and
improves weatherability. In plastics it enhances flexural
Sand is used for golf course bunkers
and top dressing sand, play sand,
pool filter media and baseball diamond infield mix.
Pool media sand is sold for use in
filters for pools at residential homes.
Baseball infield mixed is
generally made from sand which has a content of reddish
silt or clay adhering to the grains. This gives the
aesthetic color to baseball and football fields.
Producers are well aware of
any safety aspects for this type of product. Producers of
sand take exceptional care in preventing dust on site and
in production buildings. All workers are provided with
safety equipment and are very well protected. In
addition, the sand industry has been regulated for many
years by OSHA, MSHA and EPA.