"http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> urbanMamas

Sandbox Sand

Matt made the kids a sandbox and now I am on a hunt for sand.  So, I called around to a couple landscape supply places and then Home Depot.  When I called Home Depot, the gentleman I talked to said he wouldn't put the "play" sand they carry in his grand kids sandbox.  I, of course, asked why... well, it apparently contains Crystalline Silica ( I haven't viewed the bag with it's coordinating warning label myself, I am taking his word for it at this point) which is a quarried quartz derived sand.  Natural sand does not contain Crystalline Silica.  Crystalline Silica is considered a human carcinogen and is known to cause silicosis, a non reversible lung disease - not good for developing lungs.

For more information on this: http://www.safesand.com/index.htm

I am still hunting for a safe alternative to this product and will let everyone know when I find it.  If you have a suggestion, let me know.  I am additionally going to call Home Depot corporate offices to let them know that I intend to go to our local tv stations with this information if they don't pull this product and issue a recall for all parents who have already purchased it.   


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Sandbox Sand :


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Oregon beach sand - Crystalline Silica Free - 100% natural sand - can be purchased at Oregon Decorative Rock in PDX and Beaverton.


This is a really tricky topic. Part of me thinks, 'well, i played in sand and don't have lung cancer', but the other part of me doesn't want to intentionally put my kids in danger.o n

Here is a link I found regarding the sand found at FM or HD: http://parents.berkeley.edu/recommend/where2buy/sandbox.html

Also, "playsand" just isn't an option for us (and i'd guess many others, too). At $50 per 50 lb bag, I'd lose my home trying to keep up with the sand my kids dumped out each day. The girls don't play with the sand daily, and when they do they aren't spending hours in the sand. I've just decided that I can't worry about it too much.

Buying the sand in bulk through Oregon Decorative Rock is wayyyy cheaper than by the bag. fyi. $85/yard - a yard is ALOT!! not so great for dump out maintentance needs, but great for initial set-up.

I buy the bags from Oregon Decorative Rock for my school. 4 bags totally fills our sandbox for the spring and summer. I probably buy about 6 a year, and my sandbox gets LOTS of use. It's really beautiful sand.

Another option at Oregon Decorative Rock is to bring 5 gallon buckets to fill. A mom in my playgroup did that - filled four buckets for $18. She said they provided shovels and were very helpful. We have that sand and it really is wonderful!

we just got a sandbox for milo's upcoming birthday and are planning on filling it with pea gravel instead of sand, since he likes digging in rocks as much or better than sand. and he'll be less likely to track it into the house :)

from the safesand website:
"Is there a less expensive alternative to Safe Sand?

Yes! Pea gravel is a great alternative. Choose a dust free, washed and sterilized pea gravel. Although these small, smooth rocks do not compact or form sand castles, it is great fun with construction vehicles and shovels. Pea Gravel can usually be found at local garden stores for about $5-10 for a 50 pound bag."

Thanks so much for shedding light on this. I had NO idea there was an issue with sand. Our backyard has a little built-in sandbox and just the other day I was thinking it was time to take the cover off and freshen it up.

Now I think I'll get rid of all the sand in it and get the good stuff at Oregon Decorative Rock.

Thanks again!!

I am so glad I stumbled randomly upon your blog and this post!!! I JUST BOUGHT play sand from Home Depot this morning and it's sitting in the trunk of my car right now. I'm going to return it tomorrow. Thanks!!

i'm so glad there are so many more options! we'll be heading to oregon decorative rock this weekend!

The sand they have at the OMSI Discovery Zone is also for sale at the OMSI store, if you like that kind. I don't care for it, myself... I like the kind you can get wet!

Wow - thanks Monica! I didn't know there was an issue with playsand either and we are going to get some next month to fill the sandbox portion of my son's playset. Thanks so much for spreading the word!

FYI - The sand at OMSI comes from Oregon Decorative Rock.

I just yesterday got a couple bags of playsand from Fred Meyer and filled the kids' sandbox with it. This sand doesn't have any kind of a warning label or any indication of the type of sand used - it just says "play sand". Is this the kind I should be worried about?

I am not sure. I just learned yesterday that all sand isn't equal. I would say that if it does not have a warning label stating the presence of hazardous ingredients, then you are probably ok. With that said, I am not sure what the laws are regarding the labeling of products containing Crystalline Silica in Oregon. Sorry I am not more help.

I second the pea gravel vote- having switched to it this year, however I bought by sand last year at Toys R Us for not too much per bag (12 dollars, maybe?). Not my favorite sand, but I had been told not to use the Home Depot stuff that I had been letting my kids wallow in. Oh well!

I live in Pensacola,FL- in the Panhandle.
I too, am looking for safe sand for my
2 little ones. Where do I go for sand?

Does anybody know a place where we can buy safe sand for a sandbox in the Fort Lauderdale or Miami area. Thanks for your help.

In Canada colored playsand is available at Home Depot stores. This sand is coated with a durable polymer that prevents any harmful exposure to crystalline silica.Red -Yellow- Green--Blue--looks fantastic and kids love it!

I got some sand from Fred Meyers as well after trying Home Depot and several other stores. I'm pretty sure it is OK. By law, it would need to contain the warning. I also got most of my sand from filling buckets at the Oregon Coast. Does anyone know if beach sand is bad? It was nice to load up a few big buckets on our last trip and has a good texture.

does anyone know where I could get affordable safe sand in Sacramento,

We recommend that parents find a local source of natural sand. But if you can't find a local source of safe sand for your child's sandbox, we sell fine, white playsand shipped UPS at www.safesand.com. The price is high because the product is very heavy, but we are happy to make it available.

Regarding Crystalline Silica... I just found your site in my search for ammunition. After a week of bugging our local Walmart store, they pulled "Kolorscape White Play Sand". I also filed a complaint with Consumer Protection Agency. It is not sand, but crushed quarts, and lots & lots of dust. We need to pull together and protect all children from this product. Has anyone started any kind of movement on this?

Hello fellow concerned mommies! I have been looking for an safe inexpensive alternative to playsand and my sister told me something great I thought I should share with other Mommies! She saw a episode about sand and water play on a show called A Place of Our Own on PBS (channel 28 for LA folks) They used crushed walnut shells! Here is all the info with a video like of the kids using it:

This was mentioned in episode
APLO 3072 entitled "Sand and Water Play." It will re-broadcast on October
23, 2007. You can watch the field piece in which this was mentioned
online (click on the Featured Video link to the right):
Sand and Water Play


Here's a transcript:

Debi: Instead of using sand, you can use ground walnut shells, which these
children are doing to create a sensory experience.

Grace: Ground walnut shells can be picked up at any pet store. They're
cheap, they're biodegradable, and they can be found in the reptile
section. I really like the texture of them. They pour beautifully. They
have kind of a uniform quality to them.

the cake is a lie

Hi everyone,

Just wanted to introduce myself. This seems like a nice place and I look forward to hanging out here :)


I think maybe the reason we all think of wanting to get our kids a sand box (I originally thought of getting one too until I heard about the potential dangers of the sand) is that it's been so common for kids to have "sand boxes" in the U.S. I think for most of the kids in the world, they still just play with regular soil found right outside their homes. My toddlers love to play in the vegetable garden soil in a small area where I didn't plant anything. Sometimes I dig up a shovel-full or two of the soil for them when it gets too compacted for their little shovels to dig easily. They also like to dump water in with a bucket of soil and make things with the mud. First they stir up the soil and water to make the mud slurry (this was their own idea). I really don't find it inconvenient at all for them to get muddy (they seem to need a bath after playing at the beach too - even more so with all the sand that they throw up that gets in their hair), and they enjoy finding worms in the garden soil too (making it into a nature/learning experience). If there are fire ant mounds in the play-area of the garden, they can be easily killed with just pots of boiling water - usually 2 pot-fulls will do the trick and they're completely gone the next day). I guess if you don't have a garden, you could do something like I saw at the Wildflower Center in Austin. Maybe get a great big plant-pot and fill with soil or pea gravel for the kids to dig in. I guess it might work with a commercial sandbox too, assuming it has a cover. If it isn't covered, I think it's better to have a smaller surface area to volume ratio to keep it from getting too wet when it rains, and drain holes in the bottom of the pot would help too.

I love the idea of walnut shells. I wonder if the same can be done with hazelnut shells? It would be a great use for something we have so much of here in Oregon.

i just bought a sand box from a friend for my son but i have just recently been told that children can get worms from sand boxes what can i put in the sand box that is safe for the kids to play with?

I was wondering where I can get affordable and cheap sand in Las Vegas, NV. I heard that washed mortar sand is a cheaper alternative to Safe Sand. Is that safe? Thanks for your input.

Anyone know where I can find safe sand in the Albany, New York Area?

Thank you, Amanda, for forwarding information about local resources for finding sandbox sand:

"I looked into local places that might be a bit cheaper and found that Oregon Decorative Rock, located in NE Portland, sells sand from the Oregon coast that does not have CS dust. The sand comes to them directly from the coast and they bag it themselves; so they know where it comes from and what's in it. It's $8 per fifty pound bag or three bags for $7 each. They are open 7 days a week from 8:30 - 5:30. Considering that Safety sand is around $60 per fifty pound bag, I thought this was information worth passing along.

Oregon Decorative Rock
716 NE Columbia Blvd
Portland, OR 97211
(503) 289-7407

http://www.oregondecorativerock.com "

I too am in the Albany N.Y. area looking for safe sand. If anyone knows of a place please let me know... Thanks!

I think it's important to keep this in perspective. The main problem is when people are exposed to silica dust through long-term industrial exposure. Crystalline silica is the main component of beach sand, and it's pretty much present everywhere in our environment. At the beach it's not a problem because it's not airborne (usually), the smallest particles have been washed away, and we're not breathing it in 40 hours a week for years at a time. I think if you rinsed your "all purpose sand" (or exposed to a few weeks of Oregon rain) the dust problem would be solved.

On a Mothering.com discussion board someone posted the following, which was very informative.


"I'm a geologist (actually, a sedimentologist, at that!)- so I kind of specialize in sand. When you think of pretty white sand beaches-- that's mostly silica. Silica is extremely stable at the temp/pressure/chemical conditions at the surface of the earth, and that's why it's sometimes the only component left after rocks have bumped and cruised down rivers, etc. to the ocean. All of life on earth evolved in the presence of lots and lots of silica-- so don't be afraid of it!

The health, issue, as I understand it, is with crystalline silica DUST. You're talking about tiny tiny particles that are small enough to float around in the air and be breathed in-- sand-size particles are much too large for that. What you're likely to encounter out in the natural world is very different from what can happen in industrial settings. Beach sand is so nice and gritty because the smaller particles have been carried away by wave action- so don't sweat it. If you're really concerned about your sandbox sand, simply rinse it out- the water will wash away any fines, and you'll be left with something clean and stable.

I'm a total safety freak with regard to my 2yo dd-- and, honestly, this is one case where I think that some folks are preying on the good intentions of parents to market an over-priced product."

About the worms....Most likely people are referring to toxoplasmosis which is from cat feces.Cats(and people)can get this parasite from raw meat and then cats can spread it by going potty in gardens,dirt and sand boxes.That is why it would not be advisable to allow your babies to play in garden soil and that is why you should have a lid on your sand box.
It is recommended that you wear gloves when gardening and wash really well aftarwards awhen you are pregnant because of toxo.But you are really in more danger of getting it from handling raw meat than getting it from your poor kitty.

Lowe's has Play Sand for $3.50 per $50 lb bag.

Hi everyone. I am a single mom moving to Spokane, WA and I want to build a sandbox for my 3 year old daughter. I know she will play there for hours on end everyday if she can so it is an important project.
Does anyone have an idea whether I can buy sand online and have it delivered? Oregon Decorative Rock is a pretty long drive for me and they did not seem to offer such services. THANKS for any help.

Can anyone tell me where i can buy safe play sand in NYC? I was going to buy it at home depot also, but after reading this i'm skeptical. please help. thanks a lot!

Hmmm. I have a sandbox on the way, and am OK w/the idea of rinsing it.
But how?
I don't think the one i got has a drain and if i leave it uncovered the neighborhood cats will use it.
any suggestions appreciated

I was wondering if anyone knew the recipe for cornmeal & kosher salt as an alternate to playsand!

I too have been looking for sand for my son's sand box. I have read all the websites about Safe sand and other issues. Those who posted above state that beach sand from Oregon can be purchased. I don't think Oregon has the same PROP 65 warning requirements that California has. So OREGON SAND MAY NOT HAVE THE WARNIG BECAUSE ITS NOT THE LAW. Please keep in mind that sand (beach or not) is crystalline silica. Silica is sand. Some web sites say beach sand is safe versus the man made crushed quartz. I've recently purchased CEMEX sand mesh #20 which is a natural beach sand from Monterey California. It too has the warning on it. I think because its used as a sandblasting media. Any one have info on this? Anyone know of any child case of silicosis in the US?

I started doing some research on the play sand sold by Home Depot in Las Vegas due to this article and here is what I found:

It DOES contain Chrystaline Silica there are not warning labels on the bags but here is the spec sheet from the manufacture.


It's AMAZING that it is still on the market as play sand - don't let the picture of kids playing in a sandbox fool you into thinking that it is safe.

I live in Hawaii. I went to our local Toys R Us and the only playsand they have is by Quikrete. The bag doesn't list the contents that make up the sand, nor does it has a hazard label. So I did an internet search on the manufacturer. I found that it does contain the Crystalline Silica. Here is the link that lists its Material data Safety Sheet.


Oooh, in case anyone is wondering. I thought about just getting it from the beach but it's illegal.

The state of California requires warning labels on any "play sand" that contains crystalline silica (quartz dust), since it is a known cancer-causing agent. I believe that no other states require such labelling. In other states, you may find dangerous play sand for sale in bags that are labelled "Not labelled for sale in California". In many cases, that is the only indication that the sand is unsafe, and if you don't know how to interpret that message, you are out of luck, sad to say. It is best to purchase sand that the seller guarantees is 100% free of crystalline silica. Or opt for pea gravel or crushed walnut shells instead. The latter are biodegradable and also have the advantage that they will not mix with clay soil surrounding the sandbox and turn it into something resembling concrete. Also, crushed walnut shells tend to stay in the sandbox and not get tracked into the house.

you can buy sand from http://safesand.com

FYI- I got the ground walnut shells to use with our new covered sand table. The squirrels came and chewed straight through the plastic lid trying to get to what they thought was a gold mine of walnuts! Now I'm back to square one.

Just had a load of mortar sand delived for our sandbox. Should I just spray down with water before use to be safe????


There is quartz sand and there is Aragonite sand. The oolitic type of sand is perfectly fine to play in and very cheap.

Kolorscape is this variety and that is what Im looking for. Keep all the unimformed hysteria going is making this task IMPOSSIBLE.

And the rocket scientist that lives in Pensacola Florida who is having trouble finding sand, I have a great solution.
In the evening on a sunny day you could walk in the direction of the setting sun.
Im sure you will find plenty of free sand eventually.


From what I can tell, the safest sand is still beach sand. Of course, it's all about prolonged exposure, but the product in the scarily labeled play sand has long been proven to be an occupational hazard and is a well documented carcinogen. Do with that what you will.

I just bought sand at Home Depot that was advertised as good for sand boxes (not Play Sand), but as I was pouring the first bag into our box I noticed the "Keep away from children" warning. Fantastic. When I called they acknowledged it was a mistake, but were extremely unhelpful. I am going to try to avoid Home Depot at all costs from now on. Headed to Oregon Decorative Rock asap. Thanks.

Sorry. After all it is those who have a deep and real inner life who are best able to deal with the irritating details of outer life.
I am from Rwanda and know bad English, give true I wrote the following sentence: "Types interact that seymour and wyman became too view along during the hair of the interference, hair replacement products."

Best regards ;-), Dillan.

Just came across this website. Interesting stuff and it comes in colors also. http://www.funsand.net

I've spent many days & hours researching the supposed horrors of sand. The reality is that unless your child is face down in sand for 8-hours a day, 6-months straight, the threat is not real. We (humans) in-jest tons of harmful debris all day long. Ranging from carbon soot to natural occurring lead in our soil.
Again, unless your child is mining granite without a respirator your general fears are overstated.

http://www.safesand.com/ is another alternative for purchasing safe sand.

This is the most ridiculous thread I've ever read. The warning on the sand bags is because of a naive law in California that forces suppliers to identify if a product contains anything remotely linked to cancer. The fine silica dust that you're all so afraid of is only dangerous to people who work in sand mines their whole lives with no protection and sand blasters who didn't use proper masks. Silica is the most abundant mineral on earth (solid at least) and we all breath it every day. Are you afraid of the beach? That's all that sand is. SAND. Relax people.

Peter I would beg to disagree. All sand is not created equally. My daughter is fine with sand at the beach, but breaks out in blistering hives if she spends any time at all in a sandbox filled with play sand from major hardware chains, T R U, or H D. I suspect its because the play sand being sold commercially isn't really "sand" as much as it is a by-product of industrial mining. Have fun in that kids!

Oregon Decorative rock sells sand from the Florence Dunes and is $125/yard. with a truck delivery charge of $75. This is real beach sand. It is slightly expensive but we recognized how many hours our child will be enjoying the sand box.

There is a difference between Amorphous Silica (natural beach sand) and Crystaline Silica (ground up quartz). Both contain silicon and oxygen but their arrangement in a chain differs.

I researched this a lot. and the Sedimentologist is obviously correct. Is it the fine fine dust of the sand that is a hazard. The grains of sand are to large to be inhaled at a rate that would cause defect or alarm. *I am referring to specifically named PLAYSAND. It is an industrial hazard. If you are that worried, then I hope you put masks on your children so they don't inhale carbon emissions and other harmful atmospheric hazards. and I KNOW you don't ever let them touch the acidic rain.

In response to the worm question above, the main culprit are raccoons who carry roundworm which are quite dangerous to humans. In the past few years there have been numerous cases of children contracting roundworms (with horrific outcomes) from sandboxes so keep your sandboxes covered if you have raccoons.

Please please please, fellow parents, listen to the sedimentologist and don't let your emotions get the best of you over reason. (as it seems many have let happen already on this blog) This is pure marketing hype you're buying into. I know that you are all concerned mothers/fathers and love your children, but you (we) have so many things of much greater importance to worry about with regard to our children - like what values they're learning, teaching them right vs wrong, and teaching them how to think critically and use common sense. Buy some nice sand, rinse it down thoroughly if you like, and let your kids have a great time.

Any regular beach or river sand (from clean beaches or river sides) is good and free of crystalline silica. becuase is is not ground quartz rock. You can buy it from you local landscaping store. ask for the natural river or beach sand. (In most cases they have river sand)

Playboxsand.com sells PURE CRUSHED MARBLE it is totally safe for kids
and a beautiful bright white. Playbox sand is comparable is price to typical sand you would buy from a landscape supply and is available in 50lb bags and by the truckload for playgrounds and schools.


Forge to mention, Playbox Sand is 99.9% silica free, Playboxsand.com also
sell White Gravel #6 and #9 which is also made from Pure Crushed Marble,
their products range from $7.99-$8.99 for a 50lb bag.

Forgot to put our website on the entry:

All sand has quartz, crystalline silica, that's what it is. The hazard is from the dust, or from getting sand in your eyes. The OSHA hazard sheet specifies a lung disease hazard from exposure to dust (as in when sawing concrete, sand blasting, or quarrying), and a scratching hazard for eyes. Crushed quartz (artificial sand) has more dust if it isn't rinsed and it has a more jagged structure than ocean sand, some quarried sand also has a jagged structure but the jagged sand is generally labelled and sold to be used as aggregate for cement. I could see that crushed sand, even rinsed, would cause rashes because it is more abrasive.

There is a lot that people can do to get great quality sandblasting media. There are a lot great products out there.

This post is very exaggerated. I am a medical student with a young kid, so I'm not a medical expert. But lung disease is associated with long term inhalation of a dust particulate matter like concrete powder or sillica in an industrial setting. Think machines grinding rock. Small bits of rock dust settle into the smallest branches of the lungs and the body can't get them out.

I have zero concern about the health risks of crystalline silica purchased from Home Depot. Rain or watering will wash the smallest bits to the bottom. Sand from the beach is more "natural", but it's the same stuff--ground up rocks. This is pure marketing to people who want to be "organic" and don't understand the issue.

I am a litigation attorney involved in asbestos, silica, etc. toxic-exposure cancer cases. Long story short, after years of involvement with expert physician-medical witnesses, cancer-Plaintiffs, evidence in these cases... Different persons are affected differently by varying amounts of exposures. I have been surprised to find persons with relevant cancer and other lung problems who seemingly had small amounts of exposure. Small amounts of exposure that are ongoing for longer than just one isolated day seem to be an all too common factor. It's not just the large-scale industrial exposures that lead to the relevant cancers, though that is the most common factor.

So, I must respectfully disagree with the posting by medical student Branden. I have 100% concern about the health risks of crystalline silica purchased from Home Depot. From what I have seen, I would definitely NOT let my children, with delicate rapidly growing bodies, be exposed to silica dust at close range in a sandbox.

Playboxsand.com has pure crushed marble sand, whis is 99% silica free
They don't sell through thier site but if you email them they will give you a link to thier eBay listing where they offer thier sand at about .50 a lb
Which is about 1/2 the price of other silica free sands, plus this sand is pure white and beautiful, they also have Super Fine crushed marble which is silky smooth, for just a bit more.

If it is not safe for a 200 pound construction worker to inhale crystalline silica (CS) dust, why should it be safe for preschoolers and teachers?

It is absolutely important to read the label before adding sand to your child’s sandbox.

Recent landmark legislation, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CISPA) 2014, requires testing for playsand and all toys marketed to children. You can find more information here: http://safesand.stores.yahoo.net/resources1.html

The comments to this entry are closed.