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Thread: Play Sand?

  1. #1

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    Is Play Sand ok for using in carnivorous plant mixes? Or does it have to be silica sand?

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    Nepenthes Specialist nepenthes gracilis's Avatar
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    Silica sand is preferred but I have used play sand in the past and still have some Cps in a mix with Play sand incorporated, and they are no healthier nor sicker than the ones in the silica mixes. My plants, in the spring up here in New York, did get ALOT of overhead watering from our sopping wet spring and this may have cleaned out the soil and washed the sand very nicely. I still would go with silica sand however. I use a medium to coarse grade from Sakrete. 50 lbs of sand last a while.

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    if you use play sand, i would sterilize it first. Just to be sure.

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    Depending on where you are located, "play sand" composition could vary widely. There is no assurance your play sand and Dustin's play sand come from the same source. One might be ok to use and the other not.

    My favorite sand is pool filter sand which is silica sand. It's available from pool supply concerns.

    The sterility of sand is not the issue. Sterllizing sand will not affect the mineral content. I rinse all my silica sand until the water runs crystal clear, which removes a lot of other powdered mineral contaminents, dust, etc that have accumulated in the silica. Rinsing sand with other mineral inclusions present other than silica quartz will not be effective, since the mineral present in the mixed sand can leach into the substrate, if they are present, over time.

    Effects might not immediately show, but long term health problems could arise as the leaching process progresses over time. The high natural acidity of peat will result in the formation of salts as the acids react with the mineral inclusions which accumulate and concentrate in the mix through evaporation over time. What starts out good may not stay good.

    On the other hand, it could all work out, your sand might be just fine: there really is no way to say for sure. Cautious experiment is recommended, but the better advise is to test your sand. The presence of carbonates (i.e. lime) is especially bad for most CP, and this mineral presence can be detected with a drop of strong acid which will make the sand fizz. It is possible some pharmacist would be willing to assist you in this if asked. Quartz will not fizz.

    The safest quartz sand is uniformly white, and granular like sugar. Tan and multicolored sand are probably suspect, as is any sand with bits of shell in it, or sand which is in any way muddy or very dust laden.

    That's my rationale. I hope this helps.
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    Of course, Silica redilly traps other minerals within it's crystalin cage so you get some color varieation unless it is man made, but the trapped minnerals are not a thret. If you get playsand, test it with a stronge acid and a stronge base to see if you get a reaction, if you do, you have sand with the kind of minnerals that will be an issue. Also stay away from anything beyond slightly tan. MI sand is usually fairly pure silica, but because of Zebra Muscles in resent years, even that is iffy. Honestly, I wouldn't trust anything outside of Pool sand anymore because Pool sand must be chemically innert in order to be used for pools. It's also really easy to get, most places that sell play sand also sell pool filter sand [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html312/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif[/img] as I just recently descoverd.
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