Frac sand is high-purity quartz sand with durable and round grains that the petroleum industry uses for hydraulic fracturing, also called fracking, to produce petroleum fluids, including gas, natural gas and natural gas liquids, from rocks that do not have enough pore space for the liquids to flow to a well. Hydraulic fracturing requires thousands of tons of sand for each well, which created a billion dollar frac sand industry.
High-quality frac sand is a high-purity silica sand with a grain size that matches perfectly to the requirements of the job, has a spherical shape that allows hydraulic fracturing fluid to carry it with little turbulence, and has enough strength to endure crushing forces of closing fractures. Frac sand ranges in size from 0.1 millimeter in diameter to more than 2 millimeters in diameter based on customer instructions, but most of the frac sand is between 0.4 and 0.8 millimeters.
The St. Peter sandstone, Jordan sandstone, Oil Creek sandstone and Hickory sandstone are potential sources of frac sand material because they are made of quartz grains that have been through many cycles of erosion and weathering. The mined frac sand travels to a process plant where washing removes fine particles.