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The Olympics Uses Special Sand That Doesn't Stick to Beach Volleyball Players—Could They Ever Use Synthetic Sand?

Illustration for article titled The Olympics Uses Special Sand That Doesnt Stick to Beach Volleyball Players—Could They Ever Use Synthetic Sand?

Any beach goer knows that spending time in the sand means spending infinitely more time trying to scrub sand off your body. Sand just sticks everywhere. But why doesn't it stick to Olympic volleyball players? It's because the Olympics always use special, highly regulated sand.


Yep, according to Reuters, the sand used for Olympic beach volleyball is strictly regulated—"no stones or shells, not too coarse nor too compact, not too fine so it does not stick to players' bodies." If it sounds like the most amazing sand in the world, it probably is.

Sand finding for the Olympics is a science, guys. Back in 2008 for the Beijing Olympics, the sand was imported from China's Hawaii (Hainan, China) and hosed and raked regularly to keep it from getting packed too densely. But what about if they used real science to develop synthetic sand? According to the great internet resource:

The most common constituent of sand in inland continental settings and non-tropical coastal settings is silica, usually in the form of quartz. The second most common form of sand is calcium carbonate, for example aragonite, which has mostly been created, over the past half billion years, by various forms of life like coral and shellfish.


It would likely be a massive science lab undertaking that probably wouldn't make economical sense (for the near future, at least). Re-creating sand artificially (breaking down glass mayhaps?) is definitely more difficult than hiring some poor guy to rake and rake and rake the sand so it remains fine. Either way, I want to roll around in Olympic sand to see if it really doesn't stick. [Reuters via Fourth Place Medal]

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Keeping the sand so consistent isn't just for the comfort of the players. It ensures a consistent playing surface from tournament to tournament.

If it was all about keeping it from sticking to the players, they could just treat it with chemicals and make it completely hydrophobic.