Is play sand safe for my kids

Is Play Sand safe for my kid(s)? This is the most common question we get from parents here at the outdoor play project. The truth is that a sandbox is very a simple form of entertainment that is affordable and easy to set up.

But what most parents don’t know is that there is a potential danger with play sand that should be addressed immediately for the safety and health of our kids. Today, we’re going to answer the question “Is play sand dangerous?”. Hopefully, by the end, you’ll have the answers to your questions.

Is Play Sand Really Dangerous? Uncovering the ingredients in sandbox sand

Yes, play sand can be dangerous.

Did you know that the sand you’re buying from hardware stores and home improvement stores isn’t really sand. This ‘sand’ contains the toxic ingredient microcrystalline silica, a carcinogenic substance. This is very dangerous for kids because the sand in the sandbox ends up everywhere including their mouths when they’re playing.

Let me explain that further

According to kid safe sand, as your kids play in the sandbox, the sand becomes airborne and inhaled and when these tiny particles of silica lurking in sandbox sand enter your kid’s lungs, it can cause serious illness including cancer.

Crystalline silica, the ingredient found in play sand, is a human lung carcinogen that when breathed in, can cause the formation of scar tissue, reducing the lungs’ ability to take in oxygen. In addition to that, it increases the possibility of lung infections.

You could argue that play sand is not harmful until someone is exposed to substantial amounts of the dust and breathes that dust in for prolonged periods. Although that could be true, it’s still better to be safe than sorry for the sake of your child.

Now that we’ve determined that play sand is dangerous, what can you do? Let’s look at how you can make play sand less dangerous for your kids.

is play sand dangerous

How To Make Play Sand Less Dangerous

The most obvious thing you can do is moisten the sand a bit to prevent sand dust from becoming airborne because this will reduce the chances of your kids inhaling it as they play. The downside to this method is that moist surfaces provide a great home for bacteria and other germs that could actually affect your child in other ways. An alternative solution is to buy large-grained sand that is much harder for your kids to inhale.

Non-toxic play sand

If you don’t have the time and energy to put into making hardware store sand safer, you could go for non-toxic sand. However, the problem with this option is that it is a bit more expensive. For example, you can get that 50-pound bag of builder’s sand for less than $10 while the non-toxic sand for as much as $0.7-1 per pound.

My Picks of the Best Sand for Sandbox

If you choose to spend a bit more on non toxic sand, here are our recommendations

1. Sandtastik Play Sand

is play sand dangerous


  • Use in sand boxes or tables
  • Ideal for early childhood classrooms or childcare centers
  • Create castles or sculptures by adding a little water
  • Note: shovel and bucket are not included

Sandtastik is 100% safe play sand meaning it contains no quartz, no asbestos, no wheat, and no nuts. It is made from Feldspar, which is a naturally occurring, silica-deficient rock. This non-toxic sand does through multiple stages of safety certifications just to ensure that it complies with Prop 65 standards. Because of this, it’s safe to use both indoors and outside.

2. Safe Sand Company’s Natural White Play Sand

is your child's sandbox safe


  • Natural – not bleached or dyed. Safe for indoor or outdoor play!
  • Fine, white playsand perfect for sand castles and developmental play.
  • Delivered to your door in various quantities.
  • Low dust, safety tested and nontoxic.
  • Safe has been filling sand tables and sandboxes since 2001.

Safe Sand Company’s play sand isn’t bleached or dyed. It’s a natural white, low dust sand that’s safe to use indoors or outside. Just like Sadntastik, it’s made out of Feldspar, which is a naturally occurring, silica-deficient rock. This sand is soft enough for your kids to use without irritating the skin.

Sandbox Alternatives

That said, sand is not the only option you have for your kids’ sandbox.

Other safe sandbox options include:

  • Rubber mulch made from recycled tire chips
  • Pebbles
  • Pea gravel
  • Crushed walnuts
  • Rice
  • Dried beans and legumes
  • Fish tank rocks from a pet store

Additional Tips

  1. Always keep your sandbox covered to keep cats, dogs, and other animals from dragging bacteria and other dirt into it.
  2. Always keep the sand box slightly moist to prevent dry sand from flying up into the child’s face.

The Takeaway

There is an ongoing debate on whether play sand is dangerous but as a parent, the presence of toxic substances in play sand is enough to make me wary of it. The good thing is that there are Silica-free play sand options that make a sandbox safer for kids. Regardless, you should always take precautions before letting your kids play in a sandbox just to be safe!

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