How to: Build a better sand castle

Geoscientist Matt Kuchta explains why wet sand makes a better castle than dry sand — and what you can do to make your sand fortress even more impenetrable. Hint: The secret ingredient is window screens.

Discuss

9 Responses to “How to: Build a better sand castle”

  1. sidb says:

    Please don’t do this at the beach unless you’re prepared to destroy your sandcastle and fish out every single piece of windowscreen litter before you leave at the end of the day.

    • You could probably do it with leaves or something similar and it would would reasonably well.

      • keighvin says:

        Seaweed maybe? For those at ocean beaches, anyway.  Perhaps if there was a biodegradable, environmentally beneficial (not just benign) component from which suitable screens could be produced, there would be a nice little product niche and some pretty wicked sand castles out there. 

  2. MonkeyBoy says:

    “Professional” sand-sculptors usually spray their creations with a solution of polyvinyl-acetate (Elmer’s glue).  While that makes the surface stronger it probably does nothing for internal strength.

  3. cellocgw says:

    Wow — has anyone told xkcd/1190 about this?   Wait for it.

  4. timquinn says:

    Thanks to Mat for that great presentation. I would like to point out that the best part about sandcastles is their analogical power to sum up life’s temporality in such a non-depressing way. Engineering and art don’t always make good playmates.

  5. lucinda Wierenga says:

    This is so much crap – don’t put a bowling ball on your castle, fr cryin’ out loud. And don’t put a lot of trash in the beach sand please pretty please.
    Oh. And the glue doesn’t provide any structural support — it just keeps the detail from blowing away.For really helpful hints on building a better sandcastle, take a look at sandcastlecentral.com — or read my book (Sandcastles Made Simple.)

  6. Jonathan Roberts says:

    I always go for cement and steel rebar to give my sandcastles that touch of permanency.

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