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How to Harden Sand Dollars

Sand dollars take their name from appearing similar to old coins.
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While others go to the beach to swim and soak up the sun, many people walk the shores in search of seashells. A unique find among shell collectors is the sand dollar, which is a relative of the sea urchin, and can be found on the sand and taken as a collectible. While newly found sand dollars have a soft texture and light brown color, many collectors prize the appearance of a hardened white sand dollar.

Make sure that your sand dollar is not still alive. Inspect the underside of the sand dollar and see if any of its tiny, millipede-like legs are moving autonomously. If the legs are moving, please respect nature and place it back in the ocean.

Gently brush off any loose dirt or silt from the sand dollars with an old toothbrush. Soak the sand dollars in fresh water, regularly changing out the water as it turns brown. When the water remains consistently clear, they are ready to be bleached.

Place the sand dollars in large bucket. Fill the bucket with a mixture of 30 percent bleach and fresh water. Make sure that all the sand dollars are completely submerged and allow them to soak for about 15 minutes. If you choose to use more than 30 percent bleach, you should soak them for a shorter period of time.

Gently dry off the sand dollars and set them out to dry in the sun. When the sand dollars are thoroughly dry, mix white glue with an even amount of water and apply it to the sand dollars, one side at a time, with a paintbrush. This makes the sand dollars less brittle.

Things You'll Need:

  • Old toothbrush
  • Bucket
  • Bleach
  • White glue
  • Paintbrush


One alternative to using white glue to harden the sand dollars is clear acrylic spray paint.


  • In many municipalities, removing live sand dollars from their habitat is illegal. Please do not kill the wildlife. Soaking the sand dollars in bleach for too long, or with too high of a bleach concentration, will cause the sand dollars to crumble.
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