Many sand collectors choose to display some, or even all, of their sand collection. They usually do this by keeping individual sand samples inside small bottles or similar containers, often whatever they can lay their hands on, either made from clear glass or plastic. The choice of display containers available is many and varied and tends to depend on what is readily available to the collector. Cost may also be a factor that affects choice.
Choosing a display container is very much down to personal preference, in fact, some collectors make do with small self-seal polythene bags, which work after a fashion but are less than ideal for open display, say on a shelf or inside a display cabinet. There is always the risk of spillage, more so than rigid containers.
When selecting a container for display, one of the first things to consider is capacity. Containers can be found with capacities from a little as 3 ml to as large as you want. However, a good way of decided what capacity to choose is to base your choice on the standard measure used by sand collectors world wide – that of the 35 mm film canister – about 30 ml of sand.
Your choice of display container will effect how your samples are actually displayed, for example, round bottomed test tubes are difficult to stand upright. If you go for flat bottomed tubes this is not so much an issue. If you intend to label your containers, they need to be large enough to take a label without obscuring the contents too much.
Finding a ready supply of containers is not difficult when you have access to the Internet. A quick search of laboratory consumable suppliers will usually be fruitful. Depending on the size and type of container, they can be bought between 5 and 30 pence each, making the purchase of large quantities reasonable. Such containers are usually sold in batches of 100 or 1000 with the latter being more economical. I would always advise purchasing the larger quantities, so that you entire collection will be in the same size and type of container.
To display my own samples of sand, I’ve gone for 15 ml glass vials fitted with push-fit plastic caps. Bought in batches of 100, they work out at just over 35 pence each, including the cap, making the storage and display of large numbers of samples reasonable economic and hopefully they should be readily available in the future as the collection grows. They are also available from a range of suppliers. Being glass they are not prone to scratching from sharp sand but on the down side they are brittle and need treated carefully.
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