How Does Kinetic Sand Work?

Sand, Science, Silicone, Kinetic
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The Science Behind Kinetic Sand

Kinetic Sand is a fantastic product used for kids play and STEM learning and education.

What makes this sand different from regular sand is its amazing properties. Firstly, it seems that this sand is always wet, and yet it never dries out. This feature makes it fun to mould and make things. Another fantastic property is that it doesn't stick to anything other than itself. Totally unlike normal wet sand, which we know sticks to everything, including your hands.

In this post, we take a look at the science behind Kinetic Sand, give you a simple explanation and a complex explanation of how Kinetic Sand works, and how Kinetic Sand stays wet!

How Kinetic Sand and Magic Sand Works

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How Kinetic Sand Works: Simply Explained

Kinetic Sand is regular sand, but instead of being coated in water (like wet sand), it is coated with Silicone Oil.

Silicon oil is used in lots of products, most commonly for lubricating. Because the coating is oil and not water, the sand will never dry out, which is one of the best features of Kinetic Sand.

Silicone oil also has a unique property that makes it move slowly when not under pressure, which is why you can mould it like a sandcastle. However, it still does move, but just not quickly. For example, if you made a ball out of Kinetic Sand and left it on a flat table, over time, it would flatten out.


How Does Kinetic Sand Work?

How Kinetic Sand Works: Complex Answer

For a more complex answer about how kinetic san actually works from a scientific standpoint, we have had to do some research, and consult some experts.

Rude Science have a great write up about kinetic sand and silicone oil, here is what they had to say:

Kinetic sand is made of 98% sand and 2% Polydimethylsiloxane, and it resembles properties of wet sand. What makes it looks wet and stick to itself is the Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), a silicone oil which is a liquid polymerized siloxane ( a functional group of organic compounds containing carbon-silicon bonds) with organic side chains.

PDMS is optically clear, and, in general, inert, non-toxic, and non-flammable. It is also called dimethicone and is one of several types of silicone oil polymerized siloxanes. Its chemical structure looks like this:

PDMS is viscoelastic, meaning that at long flow times (or high temperatures), it acts like a viscous liquid, similar to honey. However, at short flow times (or low temperatures), it acts like an elastic solid, similar to rubber. Surfaces covered with PDMS are also hydrophobic. It is because of these properties that make sand a very clean and fun sculpting toy to play with since it doesn’t stick to conventional materials. Kinetic Sand is also used for its soothing effects for triggering Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response or ASMR for short.


Video of How Kinetic Sand Works

Here is a great video about how Kinetic Sand works. It explains it in-depth and explains all the atoms and how they work together.

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