Sand Collecting [dot] Net

the hobby of sand collection

Collecting sand


Collecting sand
Why would anyone collect sand? Each sand collector (called an "arenophile" or "psammophile") has their own reasons for collecting sand. Some collectors are interested in geology. Others like to learn about the area of the world each sample has come from. Still others collect to meet other collectors around the world and learn about their cultures and local environments.

Getting started with a sand collection

Start collecting in your own area. Sand is found around the world, so you should be able to find sand near your own home. Check the local laws on collecting samples, and ask permission to collect a sample from the land owner. Some areas may not allow the removal of local minerals without a permit.

Collecting samples for your sand collection

When you collect a sample, get enough to trade with others. I like to carry around a plastic spoon for scooping and small zipper bags for storage. This provides plenty of sand for my needs, and extra to share. Once you have your sample (and this is important), immediately label the sample so you know which one is which. Some things to include on the label are the location from which the sample was obtained, the date of collection, and the type of sand (beach, desert, sand dune, etc.).

Once you take your sample home, some cleaning might be in order. I prefer to leave samples in their natural state, but other collectors like to wash them out to remove organic material. If you choose to wash it, be careful not to wash the entire sample down the drain! Before storing the sample, be sure that it is completely dry.

Sand microscopy: why use a microscope

One reason someone might collect sand is to look at it under a microscope. This will allow a closer look than you might get with the naked eye.

However, a standard microscope has too high a magnification to view such as a large an object as a grain of sand. The best type of microscope through which to view sand samples is a tri-nocular head stereo-microscope with no more than 10X magnification. That means the microscope has two lenses for viewing, plus another lenses onto which a camera can be mounted for photos.

Tip #1: Once your microscope is set up, arrange two or three lamps nearby to allow plenty of light from all sides. No flash photography!

Tip #2: Your photos might require some photo editing software to colour-correct for yellow lighting.

Storage and display of your sand collection

It's important to decide early on how you would like to store your samples. If you choose a large container, you won't be able to display as many samples.

I display my samples in small Ball jars. These are especially nice since all components (jar, lid, and ring) are replaceable if something becomes damaged.

Another display option might be the "slabs" designed to storage the coins in a coin collection. Use a round sticker across the back to hold your sand sample in place, then snap the "slab" together for storage. Use a label maker to create a waterproof label for each jar lid or "slab".

Extra sand can be stored in small labelled zipper bags for ease of trading.

Tracking your sand collection

ledger of sand samples

Once you have more than a few samples, it's easy to forget which is which, or the details of each sample's origin.

For each sample, make an entry into a ledger or spreadsheet. Some things you might like to record include the sample number, location of collection (including latitude and longitude, if you like), type of sand, sand colour, and whether there's extra to trade.

If you know the name of the person who collected the sample for you, that is always a good thing to include as well.

Further reading

You also might enjoy this book:

These books can be difficult to find since many are out of print. Some great places to buy used books online include:

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