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#1 of 13 Old 05-03-2005, 04:23 AM - Thread Starter
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We are getting ready to build dd a sandbox. I am concerned about the silicia that is in the playbox sand that can be purchased at the store.

What is a safe sand that we can use?

Dh says the sand at his job site (he's a carpenter)is beach sand. It is mixed with something and is used to make concrete or cement (can't remember which now. lol)

I'm kind of skeptical that the sand at his job site is beach sand.

Anybody have any ideas? TIA!
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#2 of 13 Old 05-03-2005, 10:35 AM
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We are going to use small pebbles, instead of sand. Sand tends to get stuck everywhere and make a mess. I cannot remember if the pebbles have a specific name or not- but they are small and round, so they will not hurt and they can still play until there heart's content. Oh, I remember it is call pea gravel- I guess because it is the size of peas. Dh had one with pea gravel when he was young and played like crazy with his tonka truck!!

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#3 of 13 Old 05-03-2005, 10:38 AM
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I was under the impression silica gel is not actually toxic? but I have never heard of it being in sand! we have a sand and water table I am able to keep it covered up at night so no animals get in it.. but I still tend to *wash* it out once a week with boiling water.. (its not a huge table.. its the little tikes model) so far no major issues! aside from a 2.5 year old that likes to throw handfuls of it
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#4 of 13 Old 05-03-2005, 01:34 PM
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I have always heard that construction sand isn't safe for kids, and you have to get the "play sand." but I can't remember why now.

a little more research turned up that even though there is that warning label on the bag of play sand, silicosis usually happens when someone has been inhaling silica dust on a daily basis for 20 years or more (like if they work in a mine or sand-blasting).
Risk factors include any work that includes exposure to silica dust. Mining, stone cutting, quarrying, road and building construction, work with abrasives manufacturing, sand blasting and many other occupations and hobbies involve exposure to silica.

Intense exposure to silica may result in disease in a year or less, but it usually takes at least 10 or 15 years of exposure before symptoms develop. Silicosis has become less common since the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) instituted regulations requiring the use of protective equipment which limit the amount of silica dust inhaled.
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#5 of 13 Old 05-03-2005, 01:44 PM
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Most sand is silica. Silica is just another name for quartz, and most sand is made of quartz. It is nontoxic unless you inhale it (long-term inhalation can lead to silicosis). I've never heard of "play sand", but I'm guessing it's just sand that has been washed thoroughly to get the dust out. It may also be sieved to remove the finer sand.

So you don't need to be afraid of "silica", per se, but you don't want to stick your head in a pile of silica dust and breathe deeply.
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#6 of 13 Old 05-03-2005, 02:29 PM
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We got play sand at the local hardwear store. I checked this out too:

but didnt end up buying any. Our kids love the sandbox.

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#7 of 13 Old 05-03-2005, 02:36 PM
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You can clean regular sand too if you feel up to the challenge. Take a 5 gallon bucket and fill it about half way with sand. Set your hose in the bucket and fill slowly with water. Stir and fill until the water runs clean. Pour off excess water and dump in your sandbox to dry. Keep repeating this process until you have as much as you need. I'm sure this method doesn't remove everything, but it does get the sand pretty clean and free from debris.

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#8 of 13 Old 05-03-2005, 02:42 PM
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As far as I know most sand you buy in big box stores (Home Depot, etc) is not really sand, but is man made from crystalline silica. California is the only state to require a label on the bag; but most big manufacturers will just put the label on all their bags to ease distribution. Don't beleive the "safe and non-toxic" line; very misleading!!

Extended exposure to crystalline silica is known to cause SILICOSIS. Currently, they say that accute Silicosis can occur with MINIMAL exposure, and permanent/terminal takes 10 years of continued exposue. Here is a link that discusses it (and also sells an alterntive, and very expensive, natural and sanitized playsand).

Another source to buy good sand:

I did read (somewhere) that frequent washing of ordinary play sand helps minimize the risk.

For now our daughters sandbox is just filled with water. I like the pea gravel alternative.

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#9 of 13 Old 05-03-2005, 02:49 PM
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We use Jurassic is really easy to brush off DS, and when you dump it, it doesn't make a powder cloud... I'm not sure if it has silica in it or not, but because it doesn't make a powder cloud, the chance of inhaling it is smaller. Plus, it's so soft and a pretty red color!

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#10 of 13 Old 05-03-2005, 02:58 PM
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For ds's sandbox we use natural sugar sand. In Hawkins Tx (where my parents own property) there is nice clean sugar sand right under a thin layer of top soil. You have to dig for it though. We go to Big Sandy Sand Company and they give us a few 5 gallon Buckets full for free. They sell the sand to companies for construction by the ton so a few buckets is nothing to them. We love it.
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#11 of 13 Old 05-03-2005, 05:30 PM
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DH is building the boys a sandbox this week. We are using the little pebbles rather than sand for the same health reasons. Also, the boys love transporting the little pebbles in their trucks!
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#12 of 13 Old 05-15-2005, 04:37 PM
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I was just coming to ask this same question. My husband just built our son a huge sandbox. I was going to buy marine sand (for aquariums) but I didn't realize how much we would need. According to the bag of play sand, for a box our size we would need 1000 lbs!

From the reading I've done so far it seems that there isn't much risk with the playsand because it's been washed. I'm going to get one bag and dump it out to see if there is much dust in it. Otherwise we might do pea gravel. I wanted to do rice or birdseed but DH says both would spoil in an open air sandbox. How frustrating!
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#13 of 13 Old 05-15-2005, 05:59 PM
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I just purchased several bags of playsand today to use in building our patio. It is made of silica and it has been sterilized. I believe that it is sterilized to prevent the spread of hand, foot and mouth. There was an outbreak in our neighborhood last year and it was traced to a little boy who was playing in landscaping materials in his yard. JME, though.

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