Mother Nature has a secret and she’s hiding it right between your toes. From individual grains in your backyard, to miles of sandy beaches or towering dessert dunes, sand is everywhere, and an integral part of our lives. Buildings, windows, toothpaste, paper, even computers all owe their origins to the tiny grains of sand squishing under your feet.
Yet the most interesting secrets remain hidden until they are revealed by a microscope. Because when you take a closer look, much closer, the picture becomes fascinating.
Under magnification a tiny piece of rock now becomes a sparkling gem and a bit of coral turns into a glittering jewel.
And the best way to take your own journey of discovery is with a stereo microscope, ideally one with at least 40x magnification (the Omano OM24L, for example). For really cool results, try shining a light across the sample from the side. You’ll bring out shadow and surface details which seem to magically appear.
And if your sand is from an ocean beach, it very possibly could have come from a distant land or ocean depths, thousands of miles away.
Most of us think of sand as light tan or white. But once you start your microscopic journey, you’ll discover black, gold, green…every color of the rainbow. For example…
Pink and Orange – are commonly called garnets
White or clear – usually associated with quartz
Black or deep Red – iron minerals like magnetite and hematite
Dark Green – commonly called diopside
Bluish – most likely a zircon
The only downside to viewing sand with a microscope comes in part, because it is a very small, natural abrasive. It can easily find it’s way into nooks, crannys and delicate mechanisms.
So handle it with care, placing a small sample in the center of your viewing stage. After viewing, use a damp cloth and very light, gentle motions to wipe away any residual sand from around the stage and microscope base.
Your work will be rewarded by a unique look into one of Mother Nature’s oldest secrets. Just add a dash of imagination and memorable moments are yours for the making. Those are the real treasures, and they’re priceless!