What is kinetic sand made of?

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According to Rick Sachleben, a member of the American Chemical Society, “kinetic sand” is just normal sand that has been covered with silicone oil.It is important to note that the term “silicone” is used generically to refer to a class of materials that share the elements silicon and oxygen. Polymers, like silicones, are molecules that are made up of long chains of repeated units. Fun for both kids and adults, “kinetic sand” can be shaped like clay but has a silky feel to it.

What, though, is it about kinetic sand that can hold a person’s attention so completely? All sorts of products, including cosmetics, lotions, shampoos and conditioners, lubricants and sealants, use the chemicals “Silicone oils are unusual in that they may take on the qualities of either a liquid or a semisolid depending on the applied pressure. Viscoelasticity, he explained, is the name for this quality.Yet, the length of the polymer chains in the silicone oil determines how much viscoelasticity a product has.

In one example, the author writes, “Picture long (very long!) strings of spaghetti. They cling together, so [they] can keep a form, but lay a ball of them on the counter, and, over time, they slowly sink down into a low pile. The shape of [spaghetti] is maintained more reliably by longer strands than by shorter ones. Similarly, the polymer chains within the silicone oil in kinetic sand cause the sand grains to clump together, allowing you to roll them into a ball. After time, though, the ball will lose its round shape and flatten.

However, the particles of kinetic sand are coated in silicone oil, so they attach only to one other and not to other surfaces, making it easy to clean up and not feel “sticky.”You can find thousands of videos on Instagram of individuals slicing, shattering, and scooping what appears to be kinetic sand for an impressive sensory experience.

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