If you have been wondering about how many different applications sand may have in your home, you’ve come to the right place. But did you know there are different varieties and types of sand with their own specific uses? Silica sand is among them! So, what is silica sand?
It is a type of sand that is composed primarily of silicon dioxide and only a bit of iron oxide, a common component of regular sand. Silica sand is more commonly known as white or quartz sand, given that silicon dioxide is usually found in quartz.
But what is silica sand primarily used for, and is it safe to use in many home applications? How can you maximize silica sand for use both in and around your home or place of business? Let’s get started and learn about silica sand now!
Where Does Silica Sand Come from?
Silica sand comes from ground-up quartz, which means that it is an abrasive and hard material. While you can get silica sand at different levels of fineness, the toughness of quartz lends itself to a variety of applications, including sand blasting.
Quartz is one of the most common types of rock found on this earth, meaning that silica sand is much more common than you might expect. It is gathered from many sources naturally, then refined and sold to construction companies or hardware stores.
Quartz can be found in a variety of colors and styles other than white, though translucent and white colored quartz are most common. However, this means it is possible to find silica sand in a variety of shades, depending on what you want to use it for!
What is Silica Sand Used for?
Silica sand is used in a variety of applications across many job fields. You can find silica sand most commonly used in contractor or construction applications, such as concrete manufacturing and foundation building.
Silica sand is also found on golf courses or in aquariums, depending on the company. It is also perfect for sand blasting and powerful stripping projects. Given its fine but powerful grains, this material has a wide variety of uses!
Is Silica Sand Dangerous?
While silica sand has a variety of uses, it is important to note that it can be dangerous if not handled properly. While it may look just like regular sand, silica sand can be harmful if large amounts are breathed in or inhaled into the lungs.
Silica sand can also be painful if you end up getting sand blasted or otherwise hit with it. It can also damage your retinas if it gets into your eyes. However, hopefully, you have taken proper safety precautions before using or handling silica sand, including eyewear and a nose and mouth covering.
9 Home Uses for Silica Sand
If you aren’t planning any home construction, you may be wondering what silica sand might be used for. The good news is, this versatile building material has a wide variety of uses and functions! Let’s learn about some now.
1. Fire Pits (Indoor and Outdoor)
If you need a heat-resistant layer added to your gas, wood, or pellet fireplace, silica sand may be just right for you. Many homeowners use this sand as an added protective layer to their fire pits, whether it be indoors or outdoors. It absorbs and redistributes heat evenly so no one section of your fire pit gets too hot!
2. Add to Paint for Grip/Texture
If you need an easy way of adding either grip capabilities or texture to your paint, silica sand may be a cost-effective choice. Simply stir sand into your desired paint color and watch as the texture changes. This can be especially useful if you are painting slippery outdoor stairs- read more on solutions for outdoor steps here.
3. Potting Plant Mix
Adding silica sand to your potted plants can be valuable in many ways. The finer sand can be a great soil addition to any desert plants like succulents or cacti. Or the coarser versions of silica sand can be added to the bottom of your pots and promote healthy drainage. Check out a variety of coarse color options on Amazon here.
Speaking of coarse silica sand, aquariums are a popular home for this construction material. You can purchase coarser decorative silica rocks which are easy to clean, or even use the finer sand along the bottom of your tank to promote a more natural saltwater environment for your tropical fish!
5. DIY Metal Casting
Have you ever tried metal casting? This innovative and slightly complicated hobby can be done at home using silica sand! You use the sand to create molds, which then set and can be used again and again to create various metalwork projects and creations.
6. Various Artwork
You can use silica sand for heavy duty construction work, but you can also use it in a variety of art projects too! Mix your sand with oil paint for a unique canvas texture, or insert different colors of sand into a container of water or a shadowbox. The sky’s the limit with sand and artwork!
7. Artificial Turf
If you are opting for a “greener” backyard, might I suggest incorporating sand? Silica sand can be used safely in many landscaping applications, or it can even be used in conjunction with artificial turf or grass. You can purchase green or brown colored silica sand and inlay your turf with it to create a long-lasting and water-saving backyard!
8. Silica Pool Filter
Silica sand works great in a variety of pool filters, given that it is often cost effective, eco-friendly, and easy to use. Having silica sand around can make your pool or backyard pond cleaner than it was- it has the capabilities of filtering out both large and fine microns.
One of its more popular applications, silica sand can be used for any sandblasting project you have coming up. Sandblasting is perfect for reducing oxidation on common metal household objects, and can even remove paint or rust from things as well. Just be sure to gear up properly for your safety!
Where Else is Silica Sand Used?
Curious where else silica sand can be used and in what capacity? Read on to learn where else might be useful to have quartz sand lying around!
You’ve no doubt seen the white sands of golf courses- these pristine sand traps are usually composed of silica sand! It is easy to purchase and distribute. Plus, it is perfect for drainage and won’t harm the nearby grass of a golf course should any of it get scattered or blown about.
Given the strength and overall transparency of quartz, it is only fair that quartz sand be used in glass manufacturing. There are very few materials with the same power and affordability as quartz sand- that is why it is highly prized for use in window making and glass making in general.
Silica sand is perfect for filtering your pools, but it can be used to filter any type of water! From your home tap water to the water used in your aquarium or hot tub, silica sand isn’t affected by various bacterias, acids, or microns found in any type of water.
If you are wondering where silica sand is used in a construction capacity, the short answer is: more places than you expect! From glass manufacturing to bricks to cement to mortar, silica sand is used in some capacity. Plus, it can be used to polish or sandblast existing metal work too, making it versatile and affordable.
Where Can I Buy Silica Sand?
Given its general popularity and wide variety of uses, silica sand can be found in many places. You can purchase it in bulk on Amazon or from construction or dirt and rock supply shops, as well as in more manageable bags at your local hardware store. You can even find it on Amazon, such as this bag here.
Home Use Silica Sand FAQs
Do you still have remaining questions regarding silica sand and its variety of uses? Let’s go over a few more frequently asked questions now!
Is silica sand safe for pets?
Yes and no. Silica sand has been a known ingredient in kitty litter for some time, and very small amounts of sand can be eaten by larger dogs without much trouble. However, it is best to avoid using silica sand around your small animals given the potential for lung trouble.
Can I use silica sand in my garden?
Yes! Silica sand is perfect when used in a garden setting- the natural rock materials found in quartz sand lend well to any and all plants. There won’t be any harmful bacterias present, and this type of sand promotes drainage. Plus, it can be a beautiful landscaping addition as well.
Will silica sand damage plants?
It will not! Quartz sand can be useful for use in your potted plants or as a water retention layer over the top of your plants. There is nothing in the chemical makeup that will harm plants, and it is a wonderful material for promoting drainage, given its wide variety of grain sizes.
Can silica be used in concrete?
Yes, silica sand can be and often is used in concrete applications. It is a strong material to use in concrete, as well as maintaining a level of flexibility and affordability. It is used often in manufacturing and construction, and you can use it to mix your own concrete at home.
Is silica sand and quartz sand the same?
Yes, silica sand and quartz sand are the same. This type of sand is also generally referred to as white sand, given its smooth white appearance. The main ingredient comprising silica sand is ground-up quartz- hence the name quartz sand!
Silica sand has many uses, both around your home and in ways you wouldn’t expect, like water filtration. Considering silica sand for your next project may not be a bad idea, especially given its many different uses and applications!
Jamie is the founder of The Backyard Pros. When he was 15 years old he started working at a garden centre helping people buy plants, gardening products, and lawn care products. He has real estate experience and he is a home owner. Jamie loves backyard projects, refinishing furniture, and enjoys sharing his knowledge online.