Where can I buy real sand near Boston?
April 8, 2014 9:33 AM   Subscribe

We need sand for our daughter's sandbox - I think it takes like 17 50 pound bags. However, based on research we are all worked up now about the horribleness of the "Fake" sand from ground up quartz - due to inhalation issues. However, we know there can be an issue with real sand as well. So I am looking for somewhere that can provide safe real sand - so probably real sand that has been washed to remove the very small particles. This type of thing can be ordered online but it is hugely expensive. I could call around to every landscape company but I know many are business only, have huge minimums or simply wouldn't want to talk to the type of sand I need (which is probably river sand or beach sand).
posted by IzzeYum to Home & Garden (14 answers total)
Sandtastik sells the sort of play sand you are looking for, and you can buy their products on Amazon.

I know you'd rather not order online, but that may be the only way to get the level of comfort and assurance you're looking for.
posted by DWRoelands at 9:36 AM on April 8, 2014

Was hoping for something a big more affordable - we would be looking at about $800 for their sand.

I don't need it to be perfect - I am only partly convinced of the hazard - I think a lot of it is the typical helicopter parent worrying about everything.

Hoping if I take a half-way step and try to at least go for the above (washed, real sand) t will be enough.

That being said if anyone has opinions about whether I should or shouldn't be worried about this please share - I am still all over the place on it.
posted by IzzeYum at 9:47 AM on April 8, 2014

Have you considered buying cheap local stuff and washing it yourself? I'm not sure what the best process would be, but when I made my own concrete countertops I was unhappy at how dirty the all-purpose sand was that I bought at a big-box store. I put it in batches into a 5-gallon bucket with holes drilled around the bottom, and then flooded it with water from a hose. A lot of dirty water flowed out of the holes in the bottom and overflowed the top of the bucket, but the heavier, larger particles quickly settled. This was easy and quick and made a dramatic difference in the quality of the sand.
posted by jon1270 at 9:54 AM on April 8, 2014 [6 favorites]

Home Depot carries Play Sand in 50lb bags.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:56 AM on April 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

Why not just drive to the beach and get some for yourself?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:58 AM on April 8, 2014

Why not just drive to the beach and get some for yourself?

This is often not legal.
posted by odinsdream at 10:00 AM on April 8, 2014 [9 favorites]

sand and quartz are both silicon dioxide, with more impurities in the sand. i wouldn't pay for anything if i thought i could drive to cape cod or maine and shovel some into the back of my truck. i am not aware that it's illegal, but i don't go to the law library before beach expeditions. 850 pounds of sand, you might want to schedule two trips. i spent literally years on southern california beach sand with no ill effects.
posted by bruce at 10:12 AM on April 8, 2014

I'd be surprised if you can't find river/beach sand in somewhere in Boston.
My small city has 2 places that will deliver it.

I can advise you to stay away from the home depot "play sand", though. It's horrible stuff, full of dust and large particles.
posted by madajb at 10:19 AM on April 8, 2014

What you probably want is a topsoil company. A thousand pounds of sand should be well within their minimums for delivery.
posted by vignettist at 10:23 AM on April 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

We got sand for our sandbox from Boston Bark, (bostonbark.com). They do have a minimum order which I believe was 1 cubic yard. We used about 2/3 of that amount. The rest was scooped up rapidly by a frenzy of responses to my "free sand" posting on Craigslist. I don't remember the cost, but it wasn't prohibitive in my opinion.
posted by Blackcow167 at 10:29 AM on April 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Beach sand in New England is mostly small grains of quartz (SiO2) that have been rounded by the action of water. The hazardous quartz is the stuff that has been ground up mechanically so there is a lot of very fine, jagged, shaped fragments that can be hazardous if inhaled.

Taking sand from the beach is illegal in Massachusetts.

Another idea is to contact a sand/gravel pit operation like this one. The sand in those pits often represent old delta deposits created at the end of the last ice age. So they are generally pretty clean and well sorted sands.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 10:30 AM on April 8, 2014

Oops, missed that you are asking about Boston. Local topsoil companies.
posted by vignettist at 10:38 AM on April 8, 2014

I think the health risk you are mentioning is silicosis? It's important to know that silicosis is typically from chronic exposure to silica dust (quartz is SiO2, silica). I'm not saying there is no risk, but backyard play is WAY less that chronic exposure in a work environment, and the chances of your kids getting it is absurdly low.
posted by Big_B at 10:40 AM on April 8, 2014

Not sure if this is still an option but we used to get out sandbox sand at New England Sand and Gravel In Framingham. They charged about $10 for a couple of trash cans worth of it if you drove in and filled them up yourself. I suggest calling them to inquire.
posted by emd3737 at 12:01 PM on April 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

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