Anyone can become a sand collector. Children to
seniors, even people with disabilities have enjoyed
this pastime for many years. There is however,
one important factor in becoming a psammophile
and that is the ability to observe and wonder. This
is key. One must learn how to look closely at not
only sand but of the surrounding area in which one
is collecting. Whether a beach, lake, river, desert,
etc., the surrounding area will tell you much about
the sand beneath your feet and how it got there.

Plastic Baggies, film containers or nearly anything that is damp
proof, easy to carry, and inexpensive. One should keep a supply of
these containers in one's car, luggage, tote bag, etc., while
traveling, camping, or hiking. One never knows when one will come
across an interesting sand sample. The size of your sample bag or
container will depend if you wish to collect only for yourself or if you
might wish to exchange your samples with others.
One should also have handy a permanent marker or some other
writing instrument to record its location on the bag, container or note
pad. Never assume you will remember where your gathered sample is
from, especially if you are planning on collecting more than one

A magnifying, hand held hand-lens or eye-loop is also wise
to carry and one can see their sample close-up for
differences within samples from the same locale. Those
items are about all one needs in the field to collect sand.
Once home, your samples should be logged into a
logbook, file card system, computer, etc. Try noting as
much information you can about the location that sample
comes from, e.g. Date collected, state, town, park, river,
beach, etc. Try to be as specific as you can as to where
on the beach you gathered your sample, low tide mark,
Once a container has been selected, you may wish to attach an
outside display label for others to read. One can also add a paper
label within the samples itself in the event the outer label falls off;
however, before ever adding paper into a sand sample, that sample
must be perfectly dry for the slightest moisture will penetrate the
paper and make it unreadable in little time. One can make sure a
sample is dry by airing it out on several layers of old newspapers
or in an oven.

Other items one might wish to make or purchase are:
A sieve with a grid size no larger than 2 mm

At least one good road atlas and a world atlas to track down
where samples come from and their correct spellings

A funnel for pouring sand from your gathering bags into your
display containers
Again a hand-lens or eye-loop (10x is fine)
And a microscope (again10x-20x is good)
I cannot stress the point strong enough. Begin with a good
record keeping system, record everything, people who
donated samples to your collection, those people you have
made trades with and what samples you exchanged with
them, etc. Also, your display containers will generally be
your biggest expense. Find a container that will fit your
needs and finances, and be sure these containers will be
available whenever you need to purchase them. Consider
their size and weight with sand within. Many beginning
collectors either do not realize these considerations early or
choose to ignore this advice and then start to rethink their
situation some years later. It is time consuming and
expensive to change one's mind afterwards. Do it right at the
beginning. That is about all one truly needs to become a full-
fledged sand collector and with that, one can indeed
discover the world, grain by grain.

Important Note: One should be mindful about the area in
which they are exploring and if that area is privately owned.
Also, there are areas on federal, state, and city/town lands
that restrict the taking of collectible items. Be aware of
where you are and if you may take sand from that area.
ISCS is not responsible for the actions of any of its
A spoon will be useful in digging sand particularly if the
ground is hard packed or frozen. Though plastic spoons will
work, and especially recommended if traveling by air, they
do tend to break.
Often one will discover that sand can be quite
different sample to sample within just a few
yards or even feet of each other, so it is very
important to observe and wonder.
Some of the equipment one will need:

One of the myths about sand collecting is that
once you have collected a sample from a given
area, there is no need to look further as all sand
will be exactly the same - not true.
Other items might include a magnet to test for
magitinite in a sample and white household vinegar
for testing for carbonate sands.
"Sand - Hold it in your
hands and you're in touch
with the planet's essence."
The Thin Edge Anne W.

Director Nick D'Errico and
Friend Kelsey . Fort Elizabeth,
Member Alan H. of CT with
some of his collection.
The Sand Paper
How To Join
The Hobby
Becoming A Collector
What Is Sand?
Projects & Studies
Picture Gallery
Sand Kits
About Us
Director's Letter
Press Releases
A friend collecting sand in
Sand Collector Frances
Herchel Island, Canada
*2004 ISCS All Rights Reserved *
Member Ileen L., NJ
Member Pat S.- Dana Point, CA
P.O. Box 117 * North Haven, CT 06473-0117 USA * Phone & Fax: 203 239-5488 * Email:

Discovering the World, Grain by Grain
How To Become A
Sand Collector
high tide mark, upper beach area, left of pier, etc. If you
have taken more than one sample from the same place,
mark it as such (variety #1, variety #2, etc.). Record as
much information about that sample's origins as
possible. It will be important.

After logging in your data, you will want to contain your
sample, either in a smaller Baggie, bottle, jar, etc. The
container you display your sample in will be to your
choosing but one should keep a few things in mind. If
having to purchase this container, what costs are you
willing to bear. Be aware, a sand collection can grow
quite rapidly, so weight, expense, and the amount of
storage or display room you have should be a
consideration at the onset.