Friday, July 8, 2016

Collecting Sand: Sand Collection for All

Sand Collecting -- The Basics of this Fun Hobby

Photo of Sand Particles: Wikimedia Commons / CC
To some people, sand is just an irritation--one that gets stuck between their toes and inside their swimsuits or tracked into the house.

To others, sand is simply useful--for making concrete, cob, brick and other functional building materials and bases, for aquarium bottoms and volleyball courts, for making glass.

To others still, sand is something fun--to build castles out of, to bury their friends or their own legs in, to walk on in bare feet, to collect for making crafts, or even to collect just for sand's sake.

Sand isn't something people think about often, but it really is everywhere. Sand is found at the beach, in deserts and dunes, on riverbeds and rocky shores, on mountains, in quarries and even along the side of the road. Depending on the location, sand can be created from a variety of substrates. The color of the sand depends on the mineral or minerals it's made of, but more on that below, along with the basics of sand-collecting and some ideas for sand collection themes and containers.

Imagine if Each of These Grains of Sand Could Talk - Oh, the stories, spanning millions or even billions of years, they would tell.

This photo (of sand in the Netherlands) is in the public domain.

How is Sand Formed?

It's pretty simple. Sand is formed when rock or other mineral is eroded, weathered or otherwise broken down into tiny pieces. Technically, sand is between .06-2.0 millimeters in diameter, so be sure to measure each piece next time you collect it to make sure you really do have sand. (Kidding of course.)

Rock can be broken down into tinier and tinier particles by the action of wind or water, abrasion, freezing and thawing, and even by impact. Weathering can be mechanical or chemical, the latter occurring when rock reacts with acidic rainfall and water or with chemicals released by organisms.

Particles of rock rub against each other, breaking down ever smaller.

Each grain of sand would have its own story of creation to tell if it could. Scoop up a handful of sand and look closely. Together, it may look like just ... well, a bunch of sand, but close up and magnified, each particle is unique and beautiful.

Your Sand Collection As You Never had Seen It Before - A magical book:

 


A Grain of Sand: Nature's Secret Wonder

This is a fascinating book, filled with stunning sand macros. You will never say "boring sand" again. A beautiful book, even if you have no interest in collecting sand. 

Using the fantastic micro-photographic techniques he developed, the author invites readers to discover the strange and wonderful world that each grain of sand contains. His pictures reveal the subtle differences in the colors, textures, sizes, and shapes of sands from all over the world. And as this infinitesimal world unfolds, so does an intriguing explanation of how each grain of sand begins and forms and finds itself in a particular place, one of a billion and one of a kind.  

 

 

Ideas for Sand Collection Themes

Click link to see where each sand sample is from
No matter what someone decides to collect, it's fun to come up with a theme for that collection, to
learn about each item collected, to document, remember and share the stories that go along with the collection, and to show the collection to others. Some people like to trade with those who collect the same thing. And collecting sand is no different.

Sand collecting is one of many ways to mark and remember special places, special times, and special experiences over the years.

One nice bonus to sand-collecting compared to some other hobbies is that collecting sand can be completely free, or at least very inexpensive in and of itself. That is, you might decide to spend money on getting to the sand you'll collect or on containers for storing and displaying the sand, but the sand doesn't have to cost a thing.

It's a good idea to come up with the theme for your sand collection before you start. Of course, you can have more than one theme, or collections with your collection. So, be creative and have fun with it.

Here are some suggestions for starting your own sand collection, for yourself or maybe with your child, keeping in mind that collecting can be a great learning experience and opportunity for teaching....
  • Collect sand from places you've visited, and learn about those places. Maybe take at least one photo of each place the sand came from, and print the photo to go with the sand sample.
  • Collect sand of as many different colors as you can find, and learn about what makes the sand the color that it is. What types of minerals are in the sand? And what forces created it?
  • Collect sand from all over the place you live and learn about those places in your community, such as different beaches (which can be at the ocean, at lakes and even riverbanks) and other places you find sand near where you live. Learn about those places, why there's sand there, and how it formed.
  • Collect and trade sand from all over the world. You can learn about the people you trade with and make new long-distance friends. You might send one another pictures of where the sand came from and even pictures of each other. Learn about the places, cultures and communities where the sand samples come from, whether you go to the places and collect the sand yourself or get the sand samples from others.
  • Collect sand of all different types and learn about the geology of each type.
  • Collect sand from the same place each year. You can keep adding to the same container (jar perhaps), separating each year's sand with some kind of divider, like a different color sand, cardboard, etc.
  • If you're in the U.S., collect sand from all 50 states, or collect sand from all of the continents.
Can you think of any other ideas for sand collections?

Fascinating Books About the World of Sand:

 

Sand: The Never-Ending Story

Told by a geologist with a novelist's sense of language and narrative, this book examines the science of sand--sand forensics, the physics of granular materials, sedimentology, paleontology and archaeology, and planetary exploration--and also explores the rich human context of sand.

 








The Physics of Blown Sand and Desert Dunes (Dover Earth Science)

This classic book was used by NASA in studying sand dunes on Mars. It was the first book to deal exclusively with the behavior of blown sand and related land forms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ideas for Storing and Showing Your Sand Collection

You CAN Save Time in a Bottle

Start collecting simple, inexpensive containers:
  • Baby jars
  • Canning (Mason) jars
  • Jelly jars
  • A variety of glass bottles of different shapes and sizes
  • Clear wine or champagne bottles with corks
  • Zip-loc baggies
  • Petri dishes
  • Glass ampules and vials, like these
What other containers can you use to store your sand collection?

Remember to try sites like Craigslist and Freecycle, where you can sometimes find free containers like those listed above. You can post Wanted ads as well as search the listings for free items.

Add Green Sand Samples to Your Collection - The latest eBay auctions and buy-it-now sales

Green sand is made of a mineral called Olivine, which weathers quickly on the Earth's surface. Read about olivine here on Wikipedia.

This is a rare sand color, so it may not always be available.

 

Collect Black Sand Samples

Some black sands are heavy, glossy, partly magnetic mixtures of mostly fine grains, found as part of a placer deposit (an accumulation of valuable minerals). Another type of black sand, found on beaches near a volcano, consists of tiny bits of lava. Read more about black sands on Wikipedia

Add Rare Star Sand Samples from Japan to Your Collection

The grains of "star sand" are actually the shells of microscopic, single-celled organisms called foraminiferans or forams. Read about and see photos of star sand, found on the beaches and in the sands of Indo-Pacific waters.

Are you a psammophile? A psammophile is...

["psammo" = sand]
["phile" = love]
...one who loves sand.

Do You Have A Sand Collection? Do you collect sand? Are you an arenophile?

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