What Happens if My Child Eats Kinetic Sand?

The Bottom Line

Kinetic sand is a fun, moldable sensory toy. It is made of ultra-fine grain sand combined with dimethicone (polydimethylsiloxane). While kinetic sand won't poison a person if they eat it, it does pose a choking hazard, and if large amounts are eaten it can cause constipation. In severe cases, it possible for kinetic sand to cause gastrointestinal obstruction.

The Full Story

Kinetic sand is a fun sensory toy. It is made of 98% ultra-fine grain sand combined with 2% dimethicone (polydimethylsiloxane). Sand is not poisonous when swallowed. Dimethicone is a silicone compound that is also used in diaper rash creams and is considered minimally toxic. It's also an important ingredient of Silly Putty!

Alone, the two components are fairly uninteresting, but the combination of the sand and dimethicone is where the magic happens. This mixture creates a moldable solid that can hold a sculpted shape for a short period of time. When left alone, kinetic sand will eventually collapse back into a loose sandy mixture. This happens because kinetic sand is a non-Newtonian fluid. A non-Newtonian fluid is loose or liquid when left alone but gets harder under stress, like when you squeeze it. This property allows kinetic sand to be used again and again.

While kinetic sand won't poison a person if they eat it, it does pose a choking hazard, and if large amounts are eaten it can cause constipation. In severe cases, it possible for kinetic sand to cause gastrointestinal obstruction. If someone eats a small amount of kinetic sand, offer a few sips of any drink to rinse the sand from their mouth and into their stomach. The kinetic sand should pass in a bowel movement. If the sand is uniquely colored, it might change the color of the bowel movement.

The following symptoms can occur if someone develops a gastrointestinal obstruction. Seek medical care if any of these symptoms are present:

  • Distended or bloated stomach
  • Lack of bowel movement
  • Vomiting
  • Refusal to eat/lack of appetite
  • Severe constipation

If you suspect someone has been exposed to kinetic sand and is having a problem, check the webPOISONCONTROL® online tool for guidance or call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222.


For More Information

Crew BEC. Watch: this is what it looks like when you mix sand and Silly Putty. Science Alert; 2014 Oct 9 [cited 2020 Aug 29].

Widener A. What's that stuff? Magic sand and kinetic sand. Chem Eng News. 2015 Mar 23;93(12):41.


References

Katz DA. Kinetic sand. Wilmington (DE): David A. Katz; 2014 [cited 2020 Aug 29].

Final report on the safety assessment of dimethicone copolyol. J Am Coll Toxicol. 1982 Nov 4;1(4):33-54.

Poisoned?

Call 1-800-222-1222 or

HELP ME online

Prevention Tips

  • Tell children that kinetic sand should not be eaten.
  • Supervise young children when they are playing with kinetic sand.
  • Keep kinetic sand stored out of reach of children and pets in a tightly closed container when not in use.

This Really Happened

Case 1. Grandparents of a 2-year-old girl called Poison Control 3 hours after the she ate a mouthful of kinetic sand. Poison Control reassured the grandparents that the child should tolerate the ingestion and that no symptoms were expected from this exposure. The girl never developed symptoms.

Case 2

. A 4-year-old girl swallowed an unknown amount of green kinetic sand. The next day, she had a green-colored bowel movement and was taken to an ER. The ER physician called Poison Control for guidance. Poison Control advised that the product is minimally toxic, that the discolored stool is expected, and no other symptoms should develop. Other than the green-colored stools, the girl had no symptoms.