Have you ever seen grown folks hopping around the sand like stepping over Lego pieces on the floor in beachwear? Then you have most likely wondered why the sand at the beach can often get so stunningly hot.
Sand has a high density and a low specific heat. These two properties combined produce the hot-sand phenomenon. The low specific heat means that the sand needs very little energy from the sun to warm up, and the high density allows storage of a large amount of this acquired thermal energy.
Interestingly, different shades of sand produce varying outcomes of this wonderment. Another inspection you might have made is that sand starts cooling rapidly when the sun begins to wane. The constitution of the sand is a double-edged sword for beach lovers; quench your curiosity in the rest of this little study.
What Makes Beach Sand So Attractive, I Mean Hot?
The Specific Heat of sand is the thermal energy required to raise the temperature of a unit of mass of sand by a given amount, say one degree Celsius.
Beach sand’s Specific Heat is 670 J/Kg·K which is around 16 percent that of water. The Specific Heat of water is 4180 J/Kg·K. This staggering contrast illustrates why sand warms up while the water seemingly remains indifferent.
The second major factor in producing hot sand is its density. Sand is quite dense. The only thing that makes me feel better for it missing all my signals is knowing that its density is 1 631 kg per cubic meter. Ouch! That’s dense.
As we all know, not all beach sand is created equal. Some beaches have white-stardust sand, and others have the tanning hue we all wish to don year-round. The impact that the shade of the sand plays is another surprising element worth exploring.
What Color Sand Gets The Hottest?
Sand comes in a rainbow of colors: White, pink, red, and out to black. Sand gets to be these different shades because of its minerals.
For example, white sand is generally that color due to the purity of the minerals underneath. The finely ground quartz found in the sand has few contaminants which delineate its brilliance. Pale waterfront sand also holds on to the heat longer into the day, making it feel warmer than darker sand.
On top of getting quite warm, this type of sand is known to cause glare, requiring observers to wear shades for this mutually bright present and future.
This lighter sand reflects more thermal energy from the sun than absorbs it. Beach sand closer to this white hue gets less hot than sand in the opposite color spectrum.
The color distinction of the sand can be so notable that sand from beaches like the Canary Island of Tenerife with pitch-black sand from volcanic ash gets so hot that it can burn and blister your feet. This is like walking on black tar on a hot day. Wear some foot protection.
Could Beach Sand Burn You?
This is a safe place, but if we are talking emotionally, you’ll only get burnt by the amount you invest in this affair. Again, not here to judge, but it’s safer to keep things purely physical.
Beach sand can get fiery, but there are no lifeguards with burn kits. So, it is conservative in stating that sand won’t get past being sometimes uncomfortably hot.
On a typical, unimpressive, 80-degree Fahrenheit day, the sand had highs of 116 degrees. This isn’t hot enough to give you degree burns, but on hotter days, it is advised to wear some summery foot protection just in case.
How Come Beach Sand Doesn’t Stay Hot At Night?
Sand is not only great at capturing and storing radiation from the sun in the form of thermal energy, but it is equally excellent at releasing that heat.
Due to the already mentioned properties of low Specific Heat, reflectivity, and density and is capable of rapidly capturing the sun’s radiation. However, sand isn’t ideal for storing that heat because of these same properties.
As the radiation hits the sand, some thermal energy is absorbed as heat and released into the air. This cycle continues throughout the day, but once the sun sets and there is no radiation to counteract the heat released into the air, the sand cools almost as quickly as it got warm.
In simpler terms, the sand has low thermal conductivity. This additional property makes the surface warm but leaves the temperature underneath cooler. It’s also the property that allows animals to survive hot summer days or regular desert days by hiding underneath the sand. Desert nomads know and use this property to protect themselves.
Does Sand Make A Beach Day Warmer?
Because of the sand’s lacking ability to store, the sun’s energy is pushed back into the surrounding air. This creates a perception that the beach day feels warmer than the weather broadcast predicted by raising the surrounding physical temperature.
The temperature the air gets raised is only by a couple of degrees, but because the heat is now coming from two directions, it just feels hotter.
How To Prepare For A Smoldering Beach Day?
While the temperature of the sand shouldn’t be too much of a concern when going to the beach, it is again advisable to wear something to protect your feet, especially if you are a person with sensitive feet.
If you plan on going on a long walk on the sand with kids or pets, then feet protection for them is advised. Kids have soft and sensitive feet, and dog paws are also quite sensitive.
The remarkable phenomenon of the sand being hot is due to its Specific Heat, its ability to reflect the sun’s radiation, and its high intrinsic density. These properties combine to produce sand that is considerably warmer than seawater.
This fun spectacle can become uncomfortable on your feet and your pet’s paws if no feet and paw protection is prepared beforehand. The additional ability we learned about is the sand’s poor thermal conductivity, which is why the sand cools so rapidly once the sun begins to set.