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It looks like good garden soil! It is very, very fine...you can just barely feel the grain when rubbed between your thumb and finger. It is called "stove plate." I'm told that it got that name because it was used in iron foundries to cast wood burning cook stoves. It starts out nearly white (see the small sample in the center of the sand bin and below.) It turns dark with repeated heating from the castings. I'm told that this sand was collected from a riverbank in Johnson County Kansas.

A close up of the nearly white sand that has not been darkened by the heat of castings.The sand also contains bentonite clay. The clay plus water added to the mix is what holds all of the sand particles (and ultimately the mold) together. The trick is not to get it too wet as water and liquid metal do not get along well.


I've learned that the sand should be just wet enough to hold together when a handful is squeezed in the palm.

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