What Is Playground Sand? The Answer Will Surprise You

Playground sand is sand used for children's playgrounds. It comes in various colors and grades, depending on its intended use. Playground sand is typically made from crushed quartz rock or silica sand, which makes it easier to clean up than dirt. Most playground sand is also non-toxic and biodegradable.

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Play sand forms a crucial part of every playground since children use it to play and build sandcastles. It is a type of fine, dry sand that is often sold in bags at hardware and home improvement stores. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends using playground-grade sand to minimize the chances of children inhaling or swallowing it.

So, what is playground sand? Unlike regular sand, playground sand undergoes a process of washing and sifting to remove any contaminants that could harm children. This sand is also a finer grain than regular sand, which makes it less likely to get caught in small spaces like the nose or throat. Some types of playground sand have anti-microbial properties added to them to prevent the growth of bacteria. Playground sand is soft and comfortable for children to play in.

This post discusses everything you need to know about playground sand. Read on to learn more.

What Is Playground Sand?

The term playground sand is mostly used to refer to the fine sand found in sandboxes and other parts of a playground. Most playground sand is naturally occurring on beaches and river banks.

However, the sand usually requires some form of processing before it can be used on playgrounds. For instance, the sand might need to be screened to eliminate any large pieces of debris such as shells and rocks. The sand might also need to be cleaned or sterilized using chemicals or heat.

A heart shaped frawn on the sand.
The term playground sand is mostly used to refer to the fine sand found in sandboxes and other parts of a playground.

In some cases, playground sand might also be artificial. This is usually the case with indoor playgrounds where using natural sand is not practical.

What Is the Difference Between Playground Sand and Regular Sand?

Playground sand is quite different from regular sand in several ways. For one, playground sand is usually much finer than regular sand. This is because the larger pieces of debris have been removed during the processing stage.

The fineness of the playground sand makes it less likely to cause irritation or pain if it gets into a child’s eyes, nose, or mouth. In addition, the small size of the particles means that it is less likely to stick to wet skin or clothing.

Another difference between regular sand and playground sand is that the latter undergoes a more stringent process of cleaning and sifting. This is done to remove any contaminants that could be harmful to children.

Some types of playground sand also have anti-microbial properties added to them. This helps prevent bacteria growth, which is essential in an environment where children constantly play and touch things.

How Is Playground Sand Different from Construction Sand?

Construction sand is also known as building sand and must not be confused with playground sand. Construction sand is primarily mined in quarries, and a huge chunk comes from pulverized stones.

This type of sand is coarser than playground sand and does not undergo the same level of processing. As a result, construction sand can contain large pieces of debris such as rocks and shells. It can also contain high levels of dust and other contaminants.

Toys on a sandbox.
Children can’t use construction sand to build anything useful, such as sandcastles, since it doesn’t clump together like playground sand does.

You don’t want construction sand anywhere near your playground or sandbox because it contains sharp objects and a lot of dirt. The tender hands of your little ones will be scratched if you allow them to play with this type of sand.

Additionally, children can’t use construction sand to build anything useful, such as sandcastles, since it doesn’t clump together like playground sand does.

What Are the Different Types of Playground Sand?

Playground sand can be either natural or artificial. Natural playground sand is the type that is found on beaches and riverbanks. Although it requires some processing, natural playground sand is generally considered safer for children since it doesn’t contain any chemicals.

Artificial playground sand, on the other hand, is made from various materials such as ground-up tires and pulverized glass. This type of sand is usually brightly colored and sometimes glitters in the sun.

Although it might look harmless, artificial playground sand can actually be quite dangerous for children. This is because it often contains high levels of lead and other toxins.

In addition, artificial playground sand is often too fine, which can cause it to get into a child’s eyes, nose, or mouth. If ingested, this type of sand can cause serious health problems.

How Is Playground Sand Processed?

Playground sand usually undergoes two key processes before it is packaged for distribution to playground owners.

First, most companies that sell playground sand collect it on river banks or beaches. This sand usually has a lot of dirt, leaves, and other debris mixed in with it.

To make the sand safe for children, these companies clean and sift the sand to remove contaminants. The sand is washed several times to remove any remaining dirt or debris.

A sandbox on a inclusive park.
Playground sand usually undergoes two key processes before it is packaged for distribution to playground owners.

Cleaning is mainly done using pressurized water. The force of the water helps to break down any remaining large particles into relatively smaller particles.

After the sand has been cleaned, it is often kiln-dried to remove any moisture. This step is vital because playground sand that contains moisture is more likely to develop mold or mildew.

Once the sand is completely dry, it is often treated with an anti-microbial agent. This helps prevent bacteria growth, which is vital in an environment where children are constantly playing and touching things.

The treated sand is then screened one final time to remove any remaining debris. Finally, the sand is ready to be packaged and sold.

What Are the Benefits of Using Playground Sand?

There are several benefits of using playground sand for play areas. For one, it provides a soft and comfortable surface for children to play on.

This is important because it helps to prevent injuries if children fall while playing. In addition, playground sand is often cooler than other types of ground cover, which can be a relief on hot summer days.

Another benefit of playground sand is that it can help to improve drainage in play areas. This is because it allows water to seep through rather than pooling on the surface.

A girl playing on a sandbox.
Playground sand is relatively inexpensive and easy to maintain.

This can help prevent dangerous slips and falls and reduce the amount of mud that is tracked into your home.

Finally, playground sand is relatively inexpensive and easy to maintain. It doesn’t require regular cleaning and can last many years with proper care.

How Can I Test the Quality of Playground Sand?

Before you purchase playground sand, you want to ensure that it is of high quality. One way to do this is to ask for a sample from the company you are considering buying from.

Once you have the sample, you can conduct your own testing. First, take a look at the color of the sand. It should be a uniform color with no large clumps or chunks.

Next, feel the sand to see if it is gritty or smooth. The sand should be smooth to the touch and free of any sharp edges.

Finally, smell the sand. It should not have a strong odor and should not cause you to sneeze or cough. If you notice any of these red flags, it is best to find another source of playground sand.

How Often Should I Change Playground Sand?

Playground sand is generally a durable and long-lasting material. However, changing it every few years is crucial to ensure it remains clean and safe for children.

Typically, you should consider replacing your playground sand at least once a year to be on the safe side. The replacement frequency may drop to twice a year if children spend a lot of time playing in the sand.

A boy carrying a sand trolley.
You should consider replacing your playground sand at least once a year to be on the safe side.

If you notice any changes in the sand’s color, texture, or smell, it is also a good idea to replace it. These changes could indicate that the sand has been contaminated and is no longer safe for children to play in.

In addition, you should always inspect the sand before each use to look for any signs of deterioration. If you notice any chunks or clumps, it is best to replace the sand immediately.

How Do I Sanitize Playground Sand?

Most sand companies don’t sanitize their sand before selling it. However, you can sanitize the sand yourself to be on the safe side.

The easiest way to do this is to spread the sand out in a shallow pan and bake it in the oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. This will kill any harmful bacteria or viruses that may be present in the sand.

Another option is to soak the sand in a bleach solution for 15 minutes. Afterward, rinse the sand thoroughly with clean water to remove any traces of bleach.

Finally, you can place the sand in a large container and add enough rubbing alcohol to cover it. Let the sand soak for at least 15 minutes before draining and rinsing it with clean water.


Playground sand is a specific type of sand that is used in playgrounds. It is different from regular sand because it is safer and easier to clean.

Playground sand is processed to remove sharp objects and contaminants and is sanitized before being packaged for sale.

Because of its safety and convenience, playground sand is a popular choice for parks, schools, and daycare centers.

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