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Frequently Asked Questions...

Trying to make oil sands?

I am doing a school project about oil sands, like the deposits found in Canada. The problem is I am not in Canada, and I cannot find anyone who sells it in bags, or by the pound, so I want to know if anyone out there has an idea as to how I could recreate it at home. Thank you.

Best Answer...


Depending on which beds you are talking about and which deposits within them, you could buy ordinary playpen sand or other uniform sand at home center or hardware store and pack some of it in a water tight tray or container. Then get some really heavy grease, like used in grease guns (also available in cans) and some heavy motor oil, like 40 or 50 weight. Heat the grease very carefully to avoid fire and stink (outside probably) and add enough oil to make the hot liquid pourable. If you can get some tar that would be even better. Pour the hot liquid on the sand and let it soak in.
True oil "sands" are often sandstone or have gone all the way to shale and to represent the former, you could get some unsealed sandstone, like at garden stone sales places and again pour the heated oil/grease/tar, although in this case you might want to heat the rock in an oven before taking it outside and pouring.
You might query the internet for sample tar sands, oil shale, etc. sold for teachers to use in the classroom.