This is such a great question. Did you know that most of the play sand you find in stores contains carcinogenic dust? Most sand is derived from quarried quartz rocks and contains crystalline silica, a carcinogen. In addition to the cancer risk, sand particles can be a risk to children’s developing lungs. It’s important to find safe play sand without free crystalline silica dust.
What’s in your play sand really depends on where it came from. Ask your sand supplier for their MSDS (Material Data Safety Sheet) report. If you see a label that says “Not labeled for sale in California”, don’t buy it. The State of California requires this cancer warning label on bags of sand containing crystalline silica.
The Safe Sand Company was founded by a mom after she was shocked to find a cancer warning label on sand she bought for her toddler. They sell crystalline silica-free sand online. It is pretty expensive because of the shipping costs so it would be great to find a local source. If you google “safe sand” you will find several other companies selling non-toxic sand.
Pea gravel is a less expensive alternative. You can find this at a local garden store. The only problem is that you can’t make sand castles since it does not compact or form into a mold. If you are going with pea gravel, choose a dust free, washed and sterilized pea gravel.
Sandbox play is great fun for kids. Let’s make sure their play sand is non-toxic.