Little boy in sandbox

Best Sand For Sandbox And Sand Alternatives

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Sandboxes are one of the most fun things a kid can do – but did you know there are safer sandbox alternatives for regular sand that kids can enjoy – and stay safe with?

Welcome to EnviroMom! x
Welcome to EnviroMom!

Kids love playing with sand! That’s a fact, but are all ‘sands’ the same? The short answer is no!

In this article, we will cover not only some options for non toxic play sand, but also for sandbox alternatives for those that prefer not to use sand at all.

So let’s break down some answer that we hope can help you understand what sand alternatives exist so your child can still safely enjoy their sandbox!

Why Sandbox Sand May Not Be Safe

According to a case study done by Upstate Medical University some commonly used sand for children’s sandboxes may contain tremolite – which is a form of asbestos fibers. Obviously, anything ‘asbestos’ is not something you want anywhere near your kids, let alone finding it in the sand that your kids touch and, potentially, inhale and put in their mouths!

What is even scarier is that these ingredients, according to the study, are usually found in the sand you buy from your local hardware store or even the big box retailers.

BUT – crystalline silica is not an item that parents should be overly concerned with – it is a mineral that is found in many of nature’s natural elements. This item is actually the same silica that you would find on your beaches. The concern with silica is that if it is too fine or too “dusty” it can be inhaled and that is what is concerning.

But even with inhaling of it – in small amounts, it is rarely harmful.

The finer the sand you get the increased risk of your child inhaling the dust that it produces, this is where the danger lies for your child. If you do prefer regular old sand, then make sure you are buying sand that has a larger grain size which typically will have less sand.

Another option is to mildly wet the sand to keep it from becoming too dusty which will prevent your child from inhaling as much as they would if it were dry sand. Of course, this comes with other issues like bacteria or bugs looking for some moisture.

So what’s an alternative for an EnviroMom?

Is not having a sandbox an option? I mean there are other fun eco-friendly activities kids can do like making DIY shrinky dinks from #6 plastic – but if a sandbox is must-have item – after all they can provide hours of endless fun and are actually great for your child’s development – so we still recommend safer alternatives.

There are several options for buying safe sandbox sand online some are even silica -free and others are non-toxic. You can also check local stores for these brands as well.

But what you should care about the most is how dusty a sand is – preventing your child from inhaling the sand should be the ultimate goal when making a purchase!

At some preschools, sandboxes are filled with colorful balls, turning them into a ball pit. It is important though to pay attention to hygiene and give balls a regular wash.

But, back to sand! Below are some places to find healthier sand for your child to play with as well as options for what you can use in your sandbox.

Let’s Talk About The Sand Options!

Below are the best sand options we could find that are non-toxic, silica free, asbestos free and safe for your kids to enjoy with less dust than other brands.

Sandbox alternatives for sand
image credit: The Safe Sand Company

The Safe Sand Company

Safe Sand is safety-tested and is free from asbestos, lead and crystalline silica dust. There are no bleaches or dyes and is almost dust free making for the healthiest of options.

image credit: Sandtastic

Sandtastik Play Sand

Sandtastik white play sand is 100% natural and toxic-free. No crystalline, silica, gluten or asbestos are used in the production of the sand.

Pure organic play sand
image credit: Pure Organic Ingredients

Pure Organic Ingredients Play Sand

Pure Organic Ingredients is more of a brown sand as opposed to some of their competitors but it is eco-friendly – even down to the packaging. Some have stated this one has a little more dust than expected but the manufacturer recommends keeping the sand slightly damp to alleviate that issue.

Mojave Jurassic Sand
image credit: Jurassic Sands

Jurassic Mojave Play Sand

All natural beige sand that is free from chemical dyes and is almost dust free making it perfect for kids with allergies. The sand is a natural sand from the Mojave Desert and is one of the cleanest sands available on the market.

Other Brands

As a mom, I want to be able to give choices. While these brands are all popular options – I would not personally recommend them – but want to make sure you had options so you can do your own due diligence.

image credit: Quikrete

Quikrete Play Sand

Quikrete sand is a pre-washed specially graded sand that was manufactured just for children’s sand boxes.

Why I Do Not Recommend It
There are many reports of this product having way too much dust – which is the one thing we are recommending you stay away from! If you look carefully at many reviews and search for “dust” you will see many complaints about the amount of dust Quikrete produces.

Buying Options
If you do want to purchase this brand – we recommend visiting your local hardware store since it will be much cheaper than ordering it online due to the weight of the item.

Sandbox Alternatives For Sand

If you are hoping to have an indoor sandbox we are kind of guessing you do not want the mess of real sand in your home! You will be happy to know there are some other options for you to use in a sandbox that will still offer some fun and education without the mess.

If you do choose to use some of these options just be sure to keep an eye on the little ones to prevent choking issues.

  • Dry rice
  • Dried beans
  • Pebbles
  • Crushed walnut shells

Why Sandbox Play Is So Important

Kids are naturally attracted to sandboxes – it is the one place they can get messy, have fun and yet – still be building important life skills. Some of the benefits include:

Motor Skill Improvement
When your child has better motor skills it can decrease their frustrations in being able to do tasks. Building with requires doing things like molding and shaping and during the building process of their sand art they will learn how to be patient and keep hands steady which are all important skills to have.

Eye And Hand Coordination
Building with sand requires the skill of seeing something in your mind and being able to make it happen with sand. They will need to work these skills from ideation to creation and learn how to use their thoughts and eyes to create beautiful works of sand art.

Imagination & Creativity
Sand art is limitless – which means your child can build so many different things. From castles to boats to animals – the sky is the limit. The fact that they can easily finish an item – knock it down and start again on something new are all great reasons to encourage sand play.

Find the best sand for sandbox that is safe and eco-friendly. Includes alternative to sand options that your kids will love to explore.
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