Sand has become a commodity second only to fossil oils in the ever developing world where construction of buildings and infrastructure is on a non-stop increase. In the United States, aside from its necessity in creating concrete for many construction projects in urban as well as rural developments, sand is needed as aggregate for the building of countless roads connecting the country’s numerous towns and cities.
The United States, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS) is still the largest producer of industrial sand and gravel in the world. Many states have an abundance of sand, California is number one among all the 50 states, followed by Michigan. The abundance of this commodity as well as how scattered the sources are in the country provides a good supply for the incessant demand everywhere. Sand is normally extracted from old lake beds and shorelines, deltaic deposits, and outwash plains.
The numerous sources of sand, as well as gravel, throughout the country, is good for economic purposes, given that these cannot be transported long distances, and it helps keep the cost of sand per ton still very much affordable. Sand and gravel that is construction-grade is low-value but needed in high volumes. These are purchased in tons as this much is needed in construction. Sand mining in the US alone is a billion dollar industry and continues to grow despite the industry’s impact on the environment.
Types of Sand
How much does a ton of sand cost? It still is very affordable considering how important it is in creating concrete, but it also depends on the types of sand needed. There are several purposes for sand from several industries, the biggest demand remains to be for fracking and cementing which comprises 62% of the total demand, followed only by the glassmaking industry at 16%. Foundry for the metal industry follows in demand at 9%. The last 13% is shared by recreational industries and other miscellaneous uses for sand.
Sand remains to be in top demand fro construction purposes, construction grade sand can also be classified into many types. What makes a good construction sand is primarily its purity, it should be free of stones and clays in order to bind with the cement optimally. People can choose among these types:
River Sand has very fine quality, usually, the color would be grayish white and have round particles. Usually hulled from riverbanks and is usually preferred for construction especially for plastering because of its smooth quality. Sand Prices for this type of sand range from $30 to $32 per ton.
Pit sand is a course type of sand with angular particles, it is usually reddish to orange in color and is usually preferred for adding in concretes. The cost of sand per ton is about $22 to $24.
Manufactured/ Artificial Sand is derived from crushed granite and basalt rock, this is created through a 3-stage crushing process through sophisticated machines. Sand Prices for this range at around $26 to $29
Other uses for sand would include glass making, foundry, and sand used for recreational sports like beach volleyball or golf among many things.
Silica sand this is a type of sand that has many uses but the most significant in terms of economic value would be for glassmaking and as Frac sand. Frac sand is used as a proppant by the oil industry. Because of this sand’s high-purity quartz content, this has rendered it very crush resistant and ideal to keep fractures underground created while drilling for oil open against the geological crushing force that might close it. This type of sand costs between $75 to $99.
Beach Sand This type of sand is no longer considered for construction as the high salt content renders integration with cement quite problematic and puts out poor standard concrete. However, this sand is popular for recreational purposes like landscaping, sand for aquariums, artificial reefs, and beaches. This type of sand costs about $15 to $20 per ton.
Things to Consider
How much does a ton of sand cost? It is not too expensive. For an average homebuilder it is great news that this construction necessity is generally still cheap by the ton, however, it is important to scrutinize the type of sand that your supplier is offering, if it is suitable for your needs or not. The quality of sand can vary from very smooth to very course and these characteristics match certain uses in terms of masonry and construction.
Artificial or manufactured sand has been conceived mostly for ethical reasons, this substitutes for river sand, or pit sand that previously was the only choices for construction. The extraction of river and pit sands impact the environment in a huge way. The decreased sediments supply in rivers, because of continuous harvesting by the sand industry, adds to the degradation of the stream bank, this affects the aquatic life as well as the flora and fauna in the surrounding area. Continuous extraction of sand causes an imbalance in the stream flow, and because the riverbeds are disturbed, this causes downstream sedimentation, causing these sediments to deposit into channels that have no use for it and in turn affects the fishes and the animals that use those channels as habitat or watering holes. There are also studies that show in other countries how the disturbance of natural riverbeds indirectly, though with great impact, contributes to the drying up of natural wells and watering holes.
With this environmental consideration in mind, manufactured sand has become a popular choice for construction, and because the grades of sand are controlled by the manufacturer, buyers are offered a variety of grades from coarse, medium, and fine. Very fine grade construction sand is the best since this offers the best sustainability for building purposes.