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healthy alternatives to play sand - Page 2

post #21 of 28
At our co-op preschool we use rice. You can buy 50 Ib bags at costco for cheap and the kids love to play with it. If your using the sand box outside I would suggest not getting beans because any that drop on the ground will sprout and mess up your lawn, I've seen it happen.
post #22 of 28
We use all sorts of stuff. Rice, beach sand (Have to check on this one after reading this thread, though), corn meal, dry oats, beans, dirt, water, cheerios, flour (be warned, this stuff is NUTS to clean up), confettied paper, popcorn kernals...
post #23 of 28
Originally Posted by Ravin View Post
Go to the beach after the sand is nice and wet. Like after a rain or a high tide.

Really, I think I'd just keep the sand wet. Given all the documented measurable hazards out there, I refused to get stressed over the theoretical ones:
Of course, after the rain the coastal beaches are full of fecal matter and chemicals from storm drains, creeks, sewers! Yuck. Our beaches are often closed after a rain. Our beaches look beautiful and we thought they were safe. Turns out that no one was testing them. When an ocean protection group started testing them a few years ago, they started closing them often.

Pea gravel sounds like a good solution. We went to the landscaping store and they sold us "river sand." They said it didn't have silica, but not sure if it is true. Our biggest issue is keeping the cats out of it.

I don't know about other states, but this makes me not want to steal sand from a california beach:

click on page 4


post #24 of 28
Thread Starter 

pea gravel has been a big hit. It even fits through the sand sifting toy we got last summer. She loves driving her dump truck around and filling it up. You can groom it with a rake. It is dirty still but that is ok. She is having fun.
post #25 of 28
While I think there is a theoreticall risk for sand those guidlines are made for people who are working with it all day every day for years often indoors. With any inhaled risk it is vastly minimized outdoors as it dissapates intot he air instead of staying in the air and recirculating through your house. I was wierded out by the warning but after thinking about it don't really think it's an issue. We have one of tose turtle plastic sandboxes I cover it to keep the cats out but leave a lip open so that when it rains the sand gaets some water in it and stays damp.
post #26 of 28
Another poster already wrote this, but I thought I'd mention it because the healthy alternatives that have been mentioned (with a few exceptions) have similar risks. A few examples of alternatives that still cause dust and are known carcinogens to those with a lot of exposure are any of the food items mentioned (perhaps except for flax seed) such as flour, rice, wheat, corn meal etc.... Bakers are at risk of developing emphasema and other respiratory disorders as a result of being around it and working with it regularly.

Silica is a naturally occurring substance that is derived of quartz stone, which is pretty hard to avoid, anywhere!

I do think the pea gravel is the best alternative simply because it doesn't cause as much dust, but just don't think that you're avoiding the risk by substituting corn or wheat for quartz or even by using pea gravel unless you know of its origin. Stone contains so many elements in so various concentrations that you would have to test the very sand you were considering before being sure what contaminants you are dealing with. For instance, in south-central Ontario, there are areas where much of the stone naturally contains uranium that when left alone does nothing, but when the stone is broken (even just into pea gravel, and then especially sand) is radioactive and extrememly hazardous.

We're building a sand box this summer and will probably put pea gravel into it. It contains quartz, and so many other types of stone/crystal that it would take us the whole summer to find out what they are! Actually, that sounds like a great activity! Thankfully, there is no known uranium deposits up here, so at least that's not a concern. I think quartz is really one of the least concerning because it is a very stable crystal overall; it's rated at 7 for hardness and the hardest rating is for diamond at 10. Only Topaz, corundum and diamond are harder than quartz, so if what you have to work with is quartz, and you can't afford to fill your sand box with diamonds, I think you're doing okay.

Have fun! A pocket guide to rocks and minerals may help to dispell (or create) concerns. Either way, it's great to be informed!
post #27 of 28
Many daycares and preschools use rice or dried corn.
post #28 of 28
We have used rice outside....but if the birds eat it...I don't think that is good for them..birdseed?? My sister uses dried corn kernels and John Deere tractors for her son. What about a clay you can find in nature...we have alot of clay in the ground on our area.
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