Sand Magnet

One of the easiest ways to get more from your sand is to test for magnetic minerals such as magnetite. To do this, all you need is a magnet, which is then lightly dragged across the surface of the sample. The particles that are magnetic will adhere to the magnet and can be removed. A good tip is to place the magnet inside a thin polythene bag or wrap it in cling film. This protects the magnet and also makes it easier to remove the magnetic particles.

Interestingly, even samples that you would not think magnetic can prove otherwise. For example, I collected a sample from a beach at South Queensferry near Edinburgh. The sample looked to consist almost entirely of a particles weathered from a light coloured sandstone that formed both ends of a small bay. There were only a few small black specks which I took to be shell fragments. However, after testing with the magnet all these black specks were found to be magnetic and stuck to the magnet. I was able to collect enough for a separate sample.

A good tip is to always carry a magnet on collecting trips. That way if you find a sample on location that, when tested with the magnet, contains magnetic particles, you can use the magnet to collect enough of the magnetic material to form a nice sample in your collection. This is not always possible if you only collect small samples. Even without a magnet to test the sand, you can, with some experience, soon notice when a sample seems heavier than normal, a good indication that it contains heavier iron-rich particles or grains.

Copyright ©2020 Gary Buckham. All rights reserved.

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