Last Updated: October 16, 2022

What Should You Do With Old Pool Filter Sand?

Written By: Pool Care Guide

If you have a swimming pool or a hot tub, it probably has a sand filtrations system. They are efficient while also inexpensive. The fact that they require little maintenance and last a long time is enough incentive for many people to use them.

While there is little to do with a sand filtration system, most experts agree you should replace the sand every three to five years. But, unfortunately, because of the minerals and contaminants the sand filters from the water, you cannot throw it away with the trash. However, there are some creative things you can do with old pool filter sand.

What Is in Pool Filter Sand?

The sand that goes into your pool filter is not the same as the sand you find at the beach or put into a child’s sandbox. Instead, pool filter sand is silica quartz. Many people call it sand because they share many characteristics, but it is a type of crystal used in making glass and ceramics. 

Because of its abrasive qualities, it makes an ideal filter because its sharp edges catch bacteria and minerals, removing them from pool and spa water.

Silica quartz is a known carcinogen, meaning it is capable of causing cancer. That is not a problem in the filtration system, but you should not handle the sand or put it anywhere children can access it. It can also cause serious respiratory problems if inhaled.

Can You Reuse Old Pool Filter Sand?

Silica quartz works so well as a filtration base because of the shape of the individual crystals. The sharp edges are perfect for catching things as the water passes through the filter. However, over time the crystals become less effective.

The edges of the silica quartz smooth out over a few years, making them unable to grab onto contaminants. Even if you were to clean your filter and put the sand back in, it would become less capable of cleaning your water. Over time, the bacteria it has removed will slowly get back into the water, jeopardizing the health of you and your family.

How Should You Dispose of Pool Filter Sand?

Old pool filter sand has a lot of bacteria, algae, and minerals removed from the pool or hot tub in the years since it was either installed or last changed. These elements are harmful if the sand is not adequately disposed of. Here are a few ideas of ways to get rid of your old pool filter sand safely.

Landscaping

One of the main ingredients in concrete is sand. Using your used pool sand as a base to make concrete blocks is a great way to recycle it. Those blocks can be used for landscaping projects around your property, such as walkways, retaining walls, and reflecting ponds.

Pool filter sand can also be used as a tool in some basic landscaping jobs. Filling holes is a good use because it is not easily washed out. If you have a gravel driveway, you could also use the sand as a temporary patch for holes.

A fire pit may have been a dream project you have had for a while. It would look great in the pool area. And the old pool filter sand can be used as a filler at the bottom to help distribute the heat evenly.

Burying

Disposing of old pool filter sand by burying it is a good solution. However, if it is not done carefully, it could damage your property and jeopardize your health. If you bury sand in an area of your yard where water is known to drain, the ground could collapse as the sand washes away, leaving depressions or sinkholes.

Also, consider the health risks of pool sand if you get your water from a well. Burying the sand uphill from your well could cause contamination. The silica quartz, filtered bacteria, and minerals could get into your water and make your family sick.

Winterizing

Not many things can create a slip-resistant surface during cold and icy weather better than sand. Keep some old pool filter sand in your garage or basement. When the weatherman calls for ice, spread some of it on your steps and sidewalk to prevent injuries from falling.

If you expect ice but not enough to make driving impossible, spread some of the old pool filter sand on your driveway. That will help you get your car out safely when it is time for work. The likelihood of your car sliding out of your driveway into traffic is much less when you have decent traction.

Never Throw Old Pool Filter Sand Away

You should never dispose of old pool filter sand by simply throwing it out with the trash. It is a hazardous material, and not handling it properly could cause adverse side effects. So throwing it in the trash puts sanitation workers at unnecessary risk.

If you do not have the means to do any of the things on this list and you cannot think of any other ways to recycle your old pool filter sand, you should call an expert. Some companies dispose of hazardous materials much more dangerous than filter sand regularly. They can come to your home and collect it, or you can bring it to their disposal site.

Conclusion

A sand filtration system for your pool or hot tub is a fantastic way to keep the water clean and safe for your family. However, the low expense and easy maintenance come with higher responsibility. If you install one of these filters, you must change the sand every three to five years and be sure it is disposed of safely.

When you think of pool filter sand, you may think it is the same stuff you put in your child’s sandbox. However, silica quartz is a lot different than that. Made of small crystals, it can severely damage your lungs if inhaled. Therefore, disposing of it properly so that it does not jeopardize the health of your family or friends is a key part of owning a sand filtration system.

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