Picture of How to Bleach Sand Dollars
Finding Sand Dollars while at the beach is always fun to do, just like searching for sea shells or looking for neat rocks. But natural Sand Dollars will rot and give off a nasty odor if not treated. So here is my instructable on how I treat/bleach a Sand Dollar.

If you want information on how to find Sand Dollars, do a quick google search and there will be hunndreds of links for you to research up on!
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Step 1: What you need:

Picture of What you need:
Anything big enough to hold your Sand Dollars flat and be able to have a few inches of solution in the bottom, a bucket wil lwork perfect for this but you may also improvise wish any container.

Bleach, normal is fine but It just so happens I had scented laying around which will work perfect as well.

Something to dry them on: Paper towel, Cloth towel, anything will work.

The sun, It shouldn't be very hard to find a nice sunny spot for a couple of Sand Dollars to sunbathe.

Sand Dollars... Of course!

Step 2: Solution

Picture of Solution
Fill your bucket up with about 3/4 a cup of bleach, no need to measure just dump in as much as you think is necessary. Next, fill up your bucket with a little water until your Sand Dollars will be able to be completely submerged.

Step 3: Soak the Sand Dollars

Picture of Soak the Sand Dollars
Place the sand dollars in the solution and let the bucket of Sand Dollars and Solution sit for a full 24 hours. Either inside or outside, try to keep the bucket warm.

Step 4: Whiten and Brighten

Picture of Whiten and Brighten
After 24 hours your Sand Dollars should look white! They may be a little yellow (The yellow will fade in the sun more, but not completely) and possibly have a few chips out of them at this point, which is normal, you can leave them i the solution longer if you  please or take them out with the bit of yellow, which in my oppinion looks more natural and better then completely white. 

Step 5: Sun Dried Sand Dollars

Picture of Sun Dried Sand Dollars
Dump out your bucket of bleach water and Sand Dollars, careful though as the Sand Dollars are VERY FRAGILE!

Rinse out the bucket and set aside, rinse off your Sand Dollars as well and place the on your towel.

Bring your towel outside and set in the sun. The Sand Dollars will need to sunbathe for a couple of hours in the hot sun. Usually from noon till the sun starts to go down (around 7 or 8).

Step 6: Done!

Picture of Done!
Retrieve your new bleached Sand Dollars!

You now have your completed Sand Dollars, that you had fun finding and bleaching! Much more rewarding to find and bleach yourself then it is to buy at a gift shop!

The bleaching process will make them more fragile then they were in their naturla state, I started with two of them as seen in the pictures but my smaller one shattered in the sun when I went to retreve it this evening. At least I managed to find two in the ocean!
roxannam17 days ago
Omg, that was a very much alive sand dollar!! Exactly what they look like where I live in Texas too!!
luna4935 months ago

This was a live Sand Dollar in the picture :( please if you read this instructable, do not use a live sand dollar, a good way to check is if they stain your hands yellow, which means that its scared. How would you like to be dumped in a bucket of chlorine till you died ...

There is absolutely no way you can tell that is a living sand dollar... You would need to see it up close in person to see if it's hair-like "feet" are moving. I have 10 sand dollars by my sink right now that look exactly like that and are dead as a door nail.
emilytrees10 months ago

Those sand dollars are still alive! I live in San Diego, and sand dollars are by the millions over in Coronado. Unless they are white, always put them back! I always see people taking purple/green ones and it's terruible.

curiaussiety11 months ago

This very much looks like a live sand dollar to me as well. We live in Florida and just went diving for sand dollars this weekend. We pulled up hundreds that were green, they are alive. We only came home with 16 that were dead, does that tell you something. You should only be taking the ones that are already quite white with no green. Very reckless of you to post this making people think green sand dollars are dead.

They look like the live sand dollars that I find in South Carolina. I believe there is a fine for harvesting them from certain areas.
splazem3 years ago
When a sand dollar dies, its skeleton (called a test) will often wash onto shore. At times these tests appear with out the velvety coating and have been naturally bleached. If there appears to be fine hairs (called cilia) covering the body, and these hairs seem to move then you have a live sand dollar. Make sure you defiantly have a dead one because there are laws that prevents the public from taking any live plants or animals from state parks. In addition,municipalities may have their own laws. For example, Hilton Head Island forbids the removal of live sea creatures from the beaches, and officials have placed signs along the beaches that post the laws. It is up to the public to check with local government.
dimtick3 years ago
good instructable!
I've read that you shouldn't bleach your sand dollars for very long because it weakens them.
I have a bucket full of shells that my kids collected from our last trip to Florida (no sand dollars). I first soaked in 50/50 bleach water for 24 hours. I did this while still in Florida so that they wouldn't stink on the trip home. The bleach did a pretty good job but the shell are still discolored and still smell, although much much less.
I did a google search and came across this site. (it's got a section on sand dollars)

I'm using the first method and have buried my shells. they've been going for a couple weeks now. I'm going to leave them in there for a few more before digging them up. I'll let you know how it goes.
thaneda3 years ago
are these live sandollars you're using?
Dr.Bill thaneda3 years ago
They looked live to me.