Where Does Sand Come from?
Sand is made from tiny grains of rocks and minerals. Almost every grain of sand was once part of a big rock. Heat and cold caused cracks in the rocks, and wind and water chipped away at them.
The word is thought to have originated from an Old English word, which itself originated from the old Dutch word sant, which became zand. The word then came to mean something that was finer than gravel, but coarser than dust.
It is made when rocks or shells break into tiny pieces. Over time, rock is broken down by water, wind, and ice. It takes thousands or millions of years to create it. Wind, water (rain), ice, and even the process of freezing and thawing work on mountains. Pieces of rock break off the mountain. These pieces fall because of gravity. Water and wind may carry them far away.
In fast-moving streams, water tumbles stones along, slowly grinding them into sand. It accumulates in the lower parts of the stream. At the sea shore, waves crashing against the cliffs break up the rock into grains of sand, forming sandy beaches. Volcanic lava created the black sand of a beach in Hawaii.
Bits of coral and sea shells are broken down to form the sand on many tropical islands. Some sand comes from the calcium (a mineral) in seaweed. It can be different colors. That’s because shells, rocks, and minerals are different colors. Sand on beaches can be black, white, brown, green, yellow, or even pink!
Why is sand associated with time? The image of the sand being emptied in the hourglass creates a visual metaphor for the limited duration of human life, and for the inevitability of change in the world as a whole.