Silica Sand is a form of infill used in many artificial grass installations and is often one of the most inexpensive options on the market. However, it comes with some major tradeoffs. If you’re considering using silica sand infill for your artificial turf project, there are a few things you need to know regarding silica sand’s potential health impacts and overall effectiveness. Let’s get into it.
What is Silica Sand?
Artificial grass almost always needs infill – a sand-like material that goes between the blades, helping the blades stand upright and preventing wrinkling over time. Silica sand is one of the most ubiquitous forms of infill for the simple reason that it’s inexpensive. How much less expensive? Compared to our premium infill, Herofill, selling at $22 per bag, our silica sand sells at just $8.50 per bag. Despite this, silica sand is not always a smart or healthy choice for your artificial grass. Let’s get into the question of health first.
Silica Sand Health Considerations
Silica sand is made out of – yep, you guessed it – silica. Silica, as you might know, is a carcinogen, meaning it has been shown to increase cancer risk in those exposed to it. That’s why products containing it often must display a California Proposition 65 warning label.
For details on the presence of silica in infill see our Proposition 65 blog post.
In the case of silica sand, it’s only considered hazardous when it is stirred up to form dust and inhaled; something which most often occurs while it’s being installed. To minimize risk while installing silica sand, it’s best to wear a mask and periodically spray down the sand with water as you go.
Proper Use of Silica Sand Infill
If all that seems pretty bad, you might be asking, “Is there any upside to silica sand?” It turns out it’s actually quite effective and safe in certain applications. Here’s what you should consider before determining whether to choose silica sand for your artificial grass project.
The two most important factors when it comes to silica sand infill is traffic level and traffic type. Silica sand performs best when paired with aesthetic-only applications, or applications with low frequency and intensity of foot traffic. Doing so results in:
- Reduced potential for dust formation
- Little or no matting from infill compaction
Silica sand is not recommended for pet applications as it absorbs ammonia from pet urine and does not mitigate odors.
Silica sand is only known to create dust when disturbed. Thus, if your artificial grass won’t get walked on frequently, silica sand might work just fine. We see silica sand used in no-traffic aesthetic-only applications quite often and with great results.
Another benefit of pairing silica sand with aesthetic-only grass is avoiding compaction – a phenomenon to which silica sand is particularly prone. Compaction is the compressing of the infill due to weight from above. If infill becomes tightly compressed it will no longer be able to perform its essential duties of supporting the grass blades, resulting in matting. While compaction can be easily reversed by giving your grass a brisk brooming, we think you’ll agree, it’s better to avoid this problem altogether.
In summary, if your grass will get little or no foot traffic, silica sand might be the infill for you! Otherwise, we recommend checking out our line of non-toxic anti-odor and anti-microbial infills designed to suit a whole host of needs. As always, feel free to direct any questions you might have to our turf experts by giving us a call at 844-TURF-444 or by stopping by your local store!