How to Bleach Sand Dollars




About: Hey, my name is Jason. A little bit about myself is that well, I love photography, cooking/baking, creating, etc. About myself physically, I'm a male, I'm 5'7", Brunet. Personality wise, I'm usual...

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!

Step 1: 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

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

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

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

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!

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!



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    15 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    I got around 100 of them. Baby ones, old ones, so many! I just dipped them in a bleach bath like this lady suggested and Omg! They are turning so white! And then I'm going to bake them in the hot sun so they can roast their dead bodies and then I'm gonna paint them and make money with their corpses people will hang the dead on their trees for Christmas! Muhahahaha ?

    Seriously lady stfu there are billions of these things and tommorow there will be billions more. We're not clubbing baby seals here calm down


    3 years ago

    Hey all,

    I think all of you need a bit of a lesson on sand dollars. This is NOT
    alive. What you said is true but about being white but you don't need to see it
    and feel it in person. The above picture is a DEAD one. Once they die, they
    start losing their "yellow ink" which is shown above. If you look at
    a live sand dollar, when you touch it, your fingers turn yellow from it
    releasing the ink as a defense mechanism. Just like an octopus feels
    threatened, it will release ink to get away. Same thing here. Once they die,
    the ink is released and there is yellow. Plus, if you’re not sure, turn it over
    and watch the tiny hairs they will actually move. The yellow ink is the best
    way to tell if they didn't turn white yet. I collected many up on the beach
    that died and were yellowish like the above pic and many agreed and I even
    asked one of the Sanibel Conservationist and he also agreed. Once it dies the
    yellow ink is released.


    3 years ago

    Some of you have no clue what you are talking about. You cannot tell the sand Sand Dollar is alive or dead by looking at it in this picture. You would have to see it in person. When you find a sand dollar that is dead it can be white if the sun and the water have naturally cleaned it if it is more recently dead it will look like the one in the picture. You habe to be able to see and feel it to see if it is alive.


    3 years ago

    I agree! Much like the crab, lobster and fresh fish we all eat, it is best to get sea life when it is already dead. That way we feel much better about ourselves when we disturb the natural balance of the ocean. Good instruction. I would limit the bleaching to about 10 minutes and let the them sun bleach for a while. The bleach will weaken the shell and make them very fragile. Good luck and enjoy all the ocean and seas have to offer.


    3 years ago

    Omg, that was a very much alive sand dollar!! Exactly what they look like where I live in Texas too!!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    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 ...

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    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.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    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.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    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.