Sand – The Invisible Ubiquitous Material

Where are you right now? In an office? At your home? In the park? Wherever you are, you are probably close to sand, maybe even surrounded by it, but have no idea.

When most people think about sand, they imagine beaches, deserts, maybe even volleyball courts. Sand is actually everywhere in our lives, but most people would never know it because it rarely exists in its raw state. In reality, sand is essential to our modern society.

Sand is one of the recipe ingredients for concrete, and ready-mix concrete has about 25% sand composition by weight. All major construction projects use concrete, from stadiums, bridges and office buildings, to retaining walls, airports and more. Try to build a mental image of everything made with concrete. That’s a lot of sand!

Now imagine all of the roads that connect those things together. 94% of all roads in the United States are paved with asphalt. Asphalt has three ingredients: Bitumen cement, stone, and, you guessed it: sand. Not only do all of the major structures around us contain sand, but the streets we drive down do as well.

But something is still missing from the picture – our homes. Many houses and smaller buildings are made with concrete block and “glued” together with mortar. Mortar is cement and fine sand mixed together into a paste, used throughout the construction industry as a binder agent for brick and block. Even at home, sand is all around us.

From the concrete jungle to the quiet suburbs; in the roads and bridges that connect them all, sand is ever-present and unassuming. It is the invisible ubiquitous material.

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