BY : Rhiannon Nevinczenko

If you are lucky enough to be walking on sandy beaches this summer, you may be wondering: What is sand made of? 
Here's a hint: What do diamonds, ice, sand (pictured), sugar, and copper wire (all metals) have in common? All of them are crystals. Yes, all of them.
In common language, the word crystal is usually reserved exclusively for gemstones. This can make them seem rare. However, in physical science and chemical terms, crystals have a much broader definition - any solid material in which the components (i.e., molecules, atoms, or ions) are arranged in a crystal lattice. A crystal lattice is a highly ordered microscopic structure. By that definition, most solids are crystal (except for organic materials and glass).
Sand, specifically, is made of silica crystals - just like quartz crystals, and just like glass! (Though glass molecules do not form a crystal lattice.) 
Photo credit: Annajohepworth via Wikimedia Commons, CC0 - public domain.

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