Difference between sand and clay

Sand and clay are fairly common and readily available natural materials. Each of them is unique in its own way.


Sand is a material representing is a collection of many smallest fragments of rocks.


Clay is a material with a fine-grained structure, formed as a result of the destruction of rocks.



The mineral and chemical composition, as well as the particle size, endow sand and clay with certain properties. Let's try to compare them.

Water permeability

The difference between sand and clay is observed in the ability of each of the materials to pass water. You can see that in nature, sand is often found in a dry form. This is due to its good water permeability. This property of sand is used to create sand filters.

Clay absorbs water, while swelling (after drying, it again loses in volume). Clay is saturated with moisture up to a certain limit. It is not typical for this material to pass water through itself. This also applies to dried clay and moisture saturated to the stop.


You can try to mold something from raw sand. However, in this case, a good binding ability between its particles will not be observed. Even wet sand is rather loose, and there is no question of any artistic delights.

Meanwhile, from raw clay, as from a pliable dough, all kinds of shapes are easily formed, because in this state it is distinguished by its viscosity and plasticity. This property of clay is at the heart of pottery production. The material is successfully used for the manufacture of household items and building elements.

Free flow

What is the difference between sand and clay? It also consists in the fact that the cake made of sand, after drying, loses its shape, and the clay product retains it. Dry sand is free-flowing, because there is no adhesion between its particles. Moreover, sand passes through any hole evenly, without changing the speed, which is demonstrated in the operation of the hourglass.

Clay does not flow. Dried, it consists of tightly adhered particles, so products made from it are very dense. To separate the dry clay particles from each other, it is necessary to apply additional effort - crush the clay lump.


Sand Clay
Water permeableWaterproof
LoosePlastic, viscous
LooseNot free flowing