Sand is one of the many specific types of soil that can be found in Dwarf Fortress. As all sand types are soils, above ground farm plots can be built on them without need for irrigation. Sand can also be used to make glass (see below).
There are five different colors of sand – yellow sand, white sand, black sand, red sand, and tan sand – but their only difference is their appearance on the ground, as there is no difference between them for purposes of glassmaking. Sand typically appears in deserts and along ocean beaches, but is often found in other biomes as well.
Sandy clay, sandy clay loam, sandy loam, and loamy sand are not considered sand by the game and thus cannot be used for glassmaking.
When an underground tree grows on a muddy stone floor tile (after discovering a cavern) and is either trampled or cut down, the floor tile turns into a soil type appropriate to the biome - for biomes which lack soil layers altogether (such as mountains and glaciers), a random soil type will be selected, which might sometimes be sand.Verify
Sand, unlike normal soil, is always depicted using the
~ symbols and cannot be furrowed, thus causing unpaved sand roads to be covered in grass and vegetation much more quickly.
Grass, saplings and shrubs can grow on sand, which causes the underlying sand to be temporarily unavailable for collection, giving the message "Urist McBagger cancels Collect Sand: Sand vanished" if the job is in progress, or "Urist McBagger cancels Collect Sand: Need valid, active sand collection zone" if the job is new. You can easily remove the grass and prevent it from growing back by building a paved road ( - ) over the grass; the paved road will not prevent the sand from being collected. You can also put a floor grate over a sand floor to prevent growth while allowing sand to be collected, but you must first remove the grass/sapling/sapling; you can do this by placing a dirt road ( - ) over it.
Sand is used in the production of green and clear glass items at a glass furnace (crystal glass requires rough rock crystal in its place). To collect sand, first locate some appropriate sand tiles. They will appear as "[Color] Sand [Tile]" when inspected with the loo tool. Next, set an activity zone over or next to the the sand tiles by pressing and then designating the sand tiles as an activity zone (note that sand cannot be collected from sand walls). Once you've done this, activate sand collection by pressing ; however, this will not yet result in any sand being collected. You must build a glass furnace and activate the collect sand task. Each Dwarf collecting sand will require a bag, only one dwarf will collect sand per furnace, and no other tasks can be performed at the furnace while sand is being collected. Sand collection requires the "Item Hauling" labor. The bags of sand will not be taken to the glass furnace; they are left in the sand collection zone, until hauled or dumped or selected for a glass-making job.
Filled bags of sand are considered furniture, and as such require the "Furniture Hauling" labor to move. Sand bags are stored in furniture stockpiles with "sand bags" enabled ( in the bottom right corner).
Collected sand is listed under powder on the stocks menu. However, if you attempt to dump the sand from this section, the dwarves will remove it from the bags and drop it in useless piles on the floor (as if it were a contaminant) - this will also happen if you attempt to use - - to mass designate sand bags for dumping. Sand bags can also be found in the "boxes and bags" section on the stocks menu, but they are not marked separately as sand bags on this menu. You must press to switch to the individual item mode, then tediously scroll through the list.
To get bags to fill with sand for your fortress, create a leather bag at a leather works or a cloth bag at a clothier's shop, or buy the bags from a caravan. To have sand bags stored near your glass furnace, create a furniture stockpile with only "sand bags" enabled (this is selected via the key in the furniture/siege ammo submenu of the stockpile settings menu) but with all materials and quality levels still permitted. It may be useful to construct several glass furnaces so that you can have several "collect sand" jobs queued on them at the same time, which helps ensure that you have enough filled sand bags on hand to keep your glassmaker(s) supplied.
Not all embark locations have sand available. While this may prevent the establishment of a full glass industry, it does not outright prevent the making of glass at all - individual bags of sand may be purchased during embark for 1 point apiece (with a free bag included), and caravans will frequently bring several bags of sand with them each year (plus more if requested from the liaison).
It is wise to always keep several bags of sand on hand in order to deal with strange moods requiring glass. In cases where nobles make frequent production mandates for glass items, requesting all types of sand at maximum priority from the liaison is highly advised.