Industrial sand is a term normally applied to high purity silica sand products with closely controlled sizing. It is a more precise product than common concrete and asphalt gravels. Silica is the name given to a group of minerals composed solely of silicon and oxygen, the two most abundant elements in the earth’s crust. In spite of its simple chemical formula, SiO2, silica exists in many different shapes and crystalline structures. Found most commonly in the crystalline state, it also occurs in an amorphous form resulting from weathering or plankton fossilization.
For industrial and manufacturing applications, deposits of silica yielding products of at least 95% SiO2 are preferred. Silica is hard, chemically inert and has a high melting point, attributable to the strength of the bonds between the atoms. These are prized qualities in applications like foundries and filtration systems. Quartz may be transparent to translucent and has a vitreous lustre, hence its use in glassmaking and ceramics. Industrial sand’s strength, silicon dioxide contribution and non-reactive properties make it an indispensable ingredient in the production of thousands of everyday products.
Some silica sand deposits may cater for the used primarily as metallurgical sand. The copper and zinc at some smelter uses the sand as a fluxing agent which, in the molten state, reacts with various impurities in the ore and produces a slag. The slag is drawn off with the impurities, leaving a more refined metal behind.