What is Frac Sand?

Frac sand is a high-purity quartz sand with very durable and very round grains.

It is a crush-resistant material which makes it ideal for use in the hydraulic fracturing process. Quartz is the second most abundant mineral in the Earth’s crust and is a formation of silicon dioxide.



Petroleum industry proppants must meet very demanding specifications. The characteristics of quality frac sand include:

  • high-purity silica sand
  • grain size perfectly matched to job requirements
  • spherical shape that enables it to be carried in hydraulic fracturing fluid with minimal turbulence
  • durability to resist crushing forces of closing fractures

Frac Sand

Regular Sand

Close-up view of frac sand and a typical sand of similar grain size.

The frac sand has a more uniform grain size, nicely rounded grain shapes, and a uniform composition. It is also a very tough material that can resist compressive forces of up to several tons per square inch.

It’s the Dust…

While the sand used in hydraulic fracturing has a different shape and composition than regular sand, it isn’t the sand grains that are the health issue, it’s the dust. Erosion of the sand grains breaks off fine fragments – as small as smoke particles – which become airborne and can drift in the wind.

Every time sand is moved it disturbs these settled particles and any wind or pneumatic activity can cause the silica dust to become a potentially harmful cloud.

Frac Sand Grains