The Definite Sand Filter Media Guide

Over the years there has been one king of sand filter media, and that is well… sand! Now we’ve been getting a lot of questions about different sand filter media types so we decided to highlight the key differences between sand and glass filter media so when it comes time to replacing your sand filter media, you can make the right decision. We’re going to go through the two most used sand filter media which is sand and glass, the other media types like zeolite/zelbrite and D.E. are pretty niche in their application so we won’t be covering them here.

Filter Media Sand

Filter media sand has been the king of sand filter media for very obvious reasons. It’s affordable, it lasts for years (up to 7 years!) and it’s widely available. Filter media sand is made from quartz silica sand and they’re around .45 to .55 mm in size. They filter particles down to 20 microns which makes for pool water that’s quite clear. Remember, filter media sand is crushed to specific dimensions and sizes which gives them “burrs” to snag particles in your pool water and "regular" sand cannot be used. Use only sand that's designed to be used on pool sand filters.

One of the main downsides we see with your standard silica media filter sand is that they're not compatible with magnesium pools. So if you ever plan on converting to a magnesium pool in the future, take note that you will need to replace your sand filter media as well.  

Filter Media Glass

Filter Media Glass is made from recycled glass so that’s a big plus in its column! While glass media has larger particles than sand media, they’re negatively charged, so finer particles will cling to them like magnets. This magnetic/static effect makes it much more effective in filtering out particles, and if manufacturer claims are to be believed, they can filter better than cartridge filters! We don’t know about filtering better than cartridge filters, but we have noted an improvement when compared to traditional quartz silica sand.

Sand VS Glass, Point VS Point

Sand Filter Backwashing and Water Usage

In many tests, backwashing sand filters that use filter media glass took much less time that those using traditional filter media sand. The average time to backwash a filter using glass media was around 2:34 while a filter using quartz sand averaged around 3:21 which means that that quartz sand uses 23% more water when it comes to backwashing when compared with filter media glass. The reason for this may be is that filter media glass has less density than sand, which means there’s less media to go through on a weight-by-weight basis. Another reason for this is that since glass only holds on to particles with a static charge, the debris is easily released when backwashed, unlike sand where particles are physically stuck to the jagged edges of the media.

Winner: Filter Media Glass

Sand Filter Media Filtering Ability

Filter media sand can catch anything that’s big enough to be stuck on the media’s jagged edges. This can be particles all the way down to 20 microns in size. Filter Media Glass on the other hand is negatively charged, attracting particles all the way down to 5 to 10 microns, which puts it right up there in cartridge filter territory when it comes to water clarity.

Winner: Filter Media Glass

Sand Filter Media Longevity

Filter media sand has to be replaced every 3-7 years, depending on how much you use your pool, with the average around five years. Filter media glass on the other hand is advertised to last 2-3 times longer than traditional sand media. Even if it only lasts 2x longer than sand media then it’s already a clear winner over sand media with 3x longevity being a great bonus already.

Winner: Filter Media Glass

Sand Filter Media Price

While price is only one factor, it’s usually the one that affects the decision making factors of many pool owners. On a price-to-price basis, sand media wins hands down over filter media glass, but if we’re factoring in the longevity of glass vs sand then I would say that on a per pound, per year basis, filter media glass still wins.

Winner: Filter Media Sand, by a small margin


As you can see from the comparison above, filter media glass wins hands down in almost all categories. Not only does it give you clearer water, but it lasts longer as well. So if it’s time to replace your sand filter media, we strongly recommend to give Filter Media Glass a serious consideration.

P.S. Our sand and glass filter products listed here on this blog post are bundled by volume which fits our best-selling 25" Water TechniX Sand Filter model. To determine the correct amount of sand or ratio of glass filter media, check your sand filter's model and reach out to us below!

Have a different sized filter? Here are the manufacturer recommended volumes for sand filter media required:
  • 21" Sand Filter - 60kgs
  • 25" Sand Filter - 100kgs
  • 28" Sand Filter - 160kgs
  • 32" Sand Filter - 280kgs
  • 36" Sand Filter - 360kgs


Do you have any questions about this topic or the featured products? No worries, we're here to help! Drop us a question down below and we'll get back to you ASAP.

Happy swimming :)

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