Properties of Magic Sand

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Summary

The properties of Magic Sand when dry and when wet are shown. The 10 thumbnail images summarize the content of the video. Click an image to see the image gallery.

Narration

When it is dry, Magic Sand appears to be similar to ordinary beach sand, but exposure to water shows us that this sand is far from ordinary. Magic Sand is hydrophobic, which means that it avoids water. The column-like structures form because they minimize the surface area in contact with water. The hydrophobic qualities of Magic Sand prevent water from sticking to it. As a result, the sand remains dry.

Discussion

This movie shows the properties of Magic Sand. When it is dry, Magic Sand is free-flowing and cannot form a structure that holds its shape. When Magic Sand is poured into water, it has a silvery sheen and doesn't become wet. It can be molded into structures that hold their shape under water. When the water is poured off, the Magic Sand is dry.

Sand is largely silica that has broken into small grains. At the atomic scale, silica consists of a three-dimensional network of covalently bonded silicon and oxygen atoms. Typically, silica surfaces contain mostly oxygen atoms, many of which are covalently bonded to hydrogen atoms. The surface contains many polar bonds and can hydrogen-bond to water molecules. Therefore water is attracted to silica surfaces, which are said to be hydrophilic (water loving).

Magic Sand also consists of silica grains, but the grains have been specially treated in a way that greatly reduces the attraction of water molecules to their surfaces. In addition, the grains are usually dyed a distinctive color. Water does not wet the surfaces of Magic Sand grains, which are said to be hydrophobic (water fearing).

Magic Sand J. Chem. Educ. 2000 77 40A.

Keywords

Noncovalent Interactions

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Magic Sand
Solids-Liquids


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