Sand play is a great activity that encourages hand-eye coordination, creative free play, building and spatial reasoning. Having a sandbox at home is easy and inexpensive, but there are a lot of kinds of sand available and they’re not all safe or effective for use in a sandbox. Some sands, even ones marketed for use in sandboxes, have safety issues that make them bad for children. We took a look at the two most essential aspects of choosing a play sand as well as 4 safe options your kids can enjoy.

What to Watch for

1. Safety

Whenever you’re choosing a product for your child, it’s essential to make sure it’s safe. When you’re choosing a play sand for your child, this means avoiding nuisance dust and dyes. You’ll have the best results if you choose a natural and non-toxic sand.

When it comes to safety, your sand needs to pass two tests. The first is the nuisance dust test, which illustrates that improperly cleaned sand results in hazardous dust that’s harmful to both kids and adults and can trigger allergies and asthma. The second is the play sand safety test, which means that the sand should be government compliant and naturally occurring.

2. Efficacy

Products for kids need to be effective in order to be fun, and sandboxes aren’t fun if the sand isn’t good for making castles. Sand that’s man-made often has an uneven granule size, which leads to poor bonding even with water and results in flimsy, undefined and crumbling sand castles that will disappoint kids. When sand is naturally occurring, grains tend to be the same size, which allows them to pack tightly when moistened and form the defined sand castles kids desire.

In order to determine if sand will be enjoyable and effective for kids, it should pass two tests. The first, the sugar test, demonstrates whether or not grains of sand are uniform. Non uniform sand is usually made via pulverization and is not naturally occurring. The second test, the sandcastle test, is just what it sounds like – adding the proper amount of water to sand in order to pack and form a sandcastle to test the product’s veracity in use.

The Winners

#1

Crayola Colored Play Sand

Best Colored Play Sand

Crayola is a trusted and beloved manufacturer of kid’s art supplies and products, and their Crayola Colored Play Sand provides a unique and safe sensory experience for kids. The uniform grains are very effective for castle making and the sugary texture of the sand prevents any discomfort when handling. It’s ACMI certified for safety and the non-toxic acrylic colorization process is environmentally friendly. It’s tested clean for allergens and irritants, and it’s great in sandboxes, fish tanks and craft projects. There’s no chemical residue or metal, because it’s cleaned only with water and treated with a rare magnet to remove metal before packaging.

  • You'll love: It's a safe sand by a trusted manufacturer with an ACMI certification to back it, and it's colorful without transferring or adding toxic chemicals

Safety: It’s non-toxic and washed with water only, virtually dust free, 100% Asbestos free and non-irritating

Efficacy: It’s durable, with uniform grains packing nice castles and color that stands up to both water and sunlight without fade or transfer

#2

Safe Sand Natural White Play Sand

Best for Safest Sand

This Natural Sand has a beautiful white shade achieved without bleach or dyes and is completely non toxic with limited dust, offering a safe sensory play experience to kids. The sand is safety tested, so parents can feel confident that they’re making a good pick. It’s great both outdoors and indoors, and it can be ordered in varying quantities, so you’ll be able to meet your needs whether they’re big or small.

  • You'll love: It has a beautiful white hue that's totally natural, it's safety tested, and you can purchase it in varying quantities

Safety: It’s not bleached or dyed, it’s low dust natural sand that’s safety tested and non toxic
Efficacy: It’s a fine natural sand that’s ideal for detailed castles

#3

Jurassic RiverBed Play Sand

Best jurassic sand

Catching eyes with its beautiful terra cotta hue, the Jurassic RiverBed Play Sand is dust free, has no dyes and is safe for kids with allergies and asthma. It has a unique look that makes it great for either indoor or outdoor sand features that add aesthetic appeal to rooms or properties, and the fine texture of the natural sand makes it great for packing tightly formed and neatly detailed castles with minimal water.

  • You'll love: It has a beautiful clay red/orange shade that makes it a standout and is totally natural, plus it's safe and effective

Safety: All natural, no nuisance dust or chemical dyes, allergy and asthma safe
Efficacy: Naturally fine and moldable texture ideal for castle building

#4

CoolSand Deluxe Bucket

Best Portable Sandbox

This portable sandbox is a great pick if you want sand play with minimal mess indoors or out. No water is needed for the CoolSand Bucket, the sand is already at its ideal moldable texture and won’t stick to kids, clothes, toys or other items. The kit comes with an inflatable sandbox, sand and a store and carry box that holds the whole lot. 23 fun molds that are great for developing important hand eye coordination are also included for sand play, making this a nice full service starter kit for a kid who doesn’t yet have a sandbox.

  • You'll love: It's an all in one product, and no water is required

Safety: It’s non toxic and there’s no water required but there’s a choking hazard present from the box

Efficacy: It’s a moldable sand that works without water to make castles effectively

FAQs: All you need to know

Q What causes some play sands to fail the nuisance dust test?

A Play sands fail this test when they have not been properly cleaned. Cleaning removes the impurities that cause clouds of nuisance dust when sand is moved or dumped.

Q Why is passing the sugar test an important quality in play sand?

A If sand doesn’t pass the sugar test, it’s probably man-made, which means it’s probably not good for making sand castles.

Q How can I perform the sugar test at home?

A It’s very easy – all you need is a fine mesh strainer. Strain some of your child’s sand, and if large particles remain where finer ones have fallen through, it doesn’t pass the test. rum.

Q Should I actually be concerned about cancer because of play sand use?

A Likely not. The respiration of crystalline silica, a naturally occurring part of sand, is the primary concern in cancer fears, but it’s unfounded when it comes to most products. Safety tested sands for kids have been properly washed, removing the nuisance dust that would cause problematic exposure. Additionally, the primary recipients of cancer concerns due to crystalline silica exposure are industrial workers who experience long periods of repeated exposure over a period of years.

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Gary B.

Gary B.

Gary is a father of two, self-identified RC fanboy, and part-time guitar plucker. When he's not racing his collection of remote-controlled vehicles or strumming away, we bend his arm and get him to write with precision and expertise on a range of mechanical and electrical toys.

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