Home » What To Do with Old Pool Filter Sand (Answered!)

What To Do with Old Pool Filter Sand (Answered!)

Now that you’ve replaced the old sand in your pool filter, you’re left with a large amount of sand. Are you wondering what to do with it? Is it safe to reuse? Here are some ways you can use that old sand.

Filter Sand
Old pool filter sand.

1. Yard Projects

Fire Pit

Sand can be a great filler in the bottom of the fire pit. It helps to evenly distribute the heat across the fire pit area and can remove some of the heat from the bowl of the fire pit.

Sand can also be used in the area surrounding a fire pit to level out the ground. It makes a great base for laying out paths, stepping stones, or other decorative ideas.

Landscaping Projects

Much like the projects around a fire pit, pool sand is a great filler in your yard. Whether it’s leveling out uneven areas of the yard or creating a larger stone or gravel project, old sand can be a cost-effective way to get started. Plus, it gets rid of the sand, so it’s a win-win!


Sand can also be a filler in your garden or in planters around your yard. Because of the danger of breathing in the silica contaminants, we only recommend using this for outdoor planters. Do not use old sand for plants inside your house.

Using the used filter sand for landscaping projects in the yard.

2. Save for Winter

Sand can be used on driveways and walkways to help with slippery conditions. If you’re in an area where snow and ice are common, you might want to consider holding on to some sand for winter.

If you keep pool sand for seasonal use, be sure it’s stored properly so no people or pets are exposed to the contaminants. We recommend using these buckets with lids to keep the sand in a safe place.

Craftsman Storage Buckets
  • 5-gallon storage capacity
  • With latching buckles design
  • Sturdy ergonomic handles
We're industry experts and only recommend products we would use ourselves. If you click this link, we may earn a commision at no additional cost to you.

3. Bury it

A simple solution if you don’t have another use for the sand is simply to bury it. This keeps wind from blowing the sand around your yard or into areas where you don’t want it. It removes any chance of people breathing in dangerous contaminants.

If you decide to bury the sand, be mindful of how your yard drains and bury it outside of the drainage areas. This will keep your yard from getting areas that sink from sand being washed away.

4. Properly Dispose

The most common type of pool sand is made with silica quartz and is considered toxic when breathed in. If you have no other uses for your sand, please consider taking it to a disposal site or hiring someone who can properly dispose of the sand.

Pool Filter Sand Frequently Asked Questions

What Type of Sand Should I Buy for My Pool Filter?

There are three different types of pool sand: Silica Quartz, Zeolite, and Glass.

Silica Quartz is the cheapest and the most common type of pool filter sand. It does contain a large amount of silica, which can be harmful if the dust is breathed in.

Zeolite Sand is made from volcanic rock minerals. This gives it the ability to combine with chloramines and help maintain the chlorine level of your pool. You can get this product here:

ZeoSand Sand Filter Media
  • Lasts up to 5 years
  • Captures more particles than normal sand
  • Use half as much as regular sand
If you click this link, we may earn a commision at no additional cost to you.

Glass Sand is made from recycled glass. The particles are smaller than silica sand and are better at filtering algae than silica sand.

The type of sand you choose will depend largely on your budget and what you need from the sand. (Algae problems might benefit from the glass sand, for example.) All types will still eventually need to be replaced and leave you with “what do I do with my old sand?”

Related Reading: How Much Sand to Put in a Sand Filter (How Far to Fill)

Can You Reuse Pool Filter Sand?

While you can put old sand back into the pool filter, it is not recommended. Pool sand contains pieces with rough edges. These are meant to catch all the contaminants in the water and trap them in the sand so they don’t reenter your pool.

The sand particles get worn down during use in the filter. Old sand has smoother edges that do not trap particles and debris as effectively as new sand. If you reuse old sand, you run the risk of adding bacteria and contaminants from the sand back into your pool. So when the sand gets worn, we recommend buying new sand.

AquaQuartz Filter Sand
  • Standard #20 grade for sand filters
  • Helps prevent clogging & channeling
  • 100% natural & chemical free

Can You Clean Pool Filter Sand?

Backwashing your filter is essentially cleaning your pool filter sand. When you run the backwash cycle, you are flushing the contaminants that the sand has collected from your system. This 1-2 min cycle should remove most debris from your sand and allow it to continue working to clean your pool.

Once a year, usually when you’re closing your pool for the season, it is recommended to use a filter cleaner like this to help remove additional contaminants.

HTH Filter Cleaner
  • Clears out all gunk
  • Suitable for sand, DE & cartridge filters
  • Helps filtration systems to work more efficiently
We're industry experts and only recommend products we would use ourselves. If you click this link, we may earn a commision at no additional cost to you.

How Do I Know if My Sand Needs to be Cleaned or Changed?

A good indication that your sand needs some attention is the pressure gauge on the pump. If you’re 10 psi or more above its normal level. Start by backwashing the sand to see if the pressure returns to normal.

Another indication that your sand needs attention is if the water stays cloudy even with a correctly balanced pool, clean filter, and the appropriate filtering time (8 hours or more per day).

cloudy swimming pool
A woman swimming in a cloudy pool.

If either of the above situations occurs, it’s probably a good idea to backwash your filter. After a 1-2 minute backwash of your system, see if your psi returns to its normal level.

If your problems are not resolved after the backwash, the next step is to consider using a filter cleaner.

Once you’ve tried these steps without resolving your issue, it may be time to consider replacing the sand in your pool.

Can Pool Filter Sand Be Used in the Sandbox?

Silica Quartz sand, which is used in pool filters, is a toxic material and should NOT go into a sandbox. Pool filter sand is made from different materials than sandbox sand. The type of sand you use in your pool filter will determine whether or not you want to consider reusing it.

Regardless of the sand type, you should always think about the bacteria, chemicals, debris, and contaminants that your pool filter sand has trapped from your pool. You didn’t want those particles in your pool, so do you really want them in your sandbox?

Can I Use Pool Filter Sand in My Aquarium?

Pool filter sand can be a great substitute for aquarium sand. However, it won’t be a good idea to reuse old pool sand in your aquarium. You don’t want to run the risk of contaminating your tank with any bacteria or chemicals from the swimming pool. Fish are very sensitive to chemicals and it could kill them.

If you want to consider pool filter sand for your aquarium, we recommend buying it new.

Is Pool Filter Sand Toxic?

Silica Quartz sand is considered a toxic substance because of the amount of silica it contains. When breathed in, the silica can cause a lung condition called silicosis.

Zeolite and Glass sand does not contain toxic substances.

Related Reading: The Easiest Way to Replace Sand in a Pool Filter

2 thoughts on “What To Do with Old Pool Filter Sand (Answered!)”

  1. Have used your info many times and saved a lot of time and money.
    Article on “High Pressure in Sand Filter”, I can add a 9th, and it saves a lot of time and a service call.
    Pressure from 12 to 22. Whoa, all of a sudden. Went through the normal checks. Backwashed. No change.
    Then realized I had shut off the two returns, pool and spa.
    Opened one up, pressure back to normal 12.
    My bad.


Leave a comment