A Speck of Difference

Did you know? Sand, silt and clay are the names for the three particle sizes used to classify soil texture. Sand is the largest particle, and clay the smallest. The coarsest sand grains are more than one million times larger than a single particle of clay!

As a Soil Textural Triangle1 illustrates, most soils consist of a mixture of all three particles; it’s their relative proportions that give a soil texture its name, such as loam, meaning a soil that consists of roughly equal mixtures of sand, silt, and clay (about 40-40-20 percent concentration, respectively). A soil with a slightly higher concentration of silt is called a silt-loam. Soils that have a much different balance of particles don’t have the word loam in the name; silty-clays, for instance, are mostly silt and clay with little sand.