Fun at the Beach: Drip Castles

Geek Culture

Drip Castles on the beach. Photo: Jonathan LiuDrip Castles on the beach. Photo: Jonathan Liu

I visited my parents in Florida recently, and we were able to spend an afternoon at the beach with my kids. We ended up mostly just playing in the sand and not in the water because there was a large number of jellyfish washing up on the beach (Aurelia aurita, as best as I can figure). My kids wanted to dig holes and build sand castles, so my dad and I helped them put together a few castles.

We did one traditional bucket-and-shovel castle, with four buckets forming the corners, walls to connect them, a door cut in one side, and a moat dug around. But I also showed them how to make drip castles, something that I learned when I was young and still enjoy doing.

Making drip castlesMaking drip castles

Making drip castles: dribbling wet sand to form the wall.

It’s a fairly simple process and I love the way that the final results look like tiny rough heaps of stones or melted wax. You start with a bucket of very wet sand — I usually put enough water in the bucket that it covers the sand entirely, though you can experiment with different wetness levels to find what works for you. Grab a small handful of the sand, and let it trickle out onto the ground. As the trickles and drips hit the ground, the water seeps down quickly, leaving drip-shaped blobs of sand that harden and hold their shape. With practice, you can make towers, arches, and walls. It’s also a fun technique for making ornamentation on top of a traditionally-built sand castle.

Sand drip castleSand drip castle

My drip castle, with wall.

I remember learning this from a friend’s dad a long time ago, but I hadn’t often seen other people making them. A quick internet search for “sand drip castle” turns up all sorts of hits, so I see that it’s not really an obscure technique. But if you haven’t ever tried drip castles before and you’ve got a trip to the beach coming up, give it a try!

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