Why Does Sand Get Hotter Than the Water?

If you have been to a desert, you’ll find that sand can get quite hot. In fact, it gets hotter than water in most cases. But, why is this the case? Worry not because we will answer that question for you right now!

Sand is much better at absorbing radiation than water. This causes the sand to heat up faster and get hotter than water in most cases. 

That’s not all, though. There are more reasons why this is the case. If you are curious to know them, continue reading to find out!

Sand Has Lower Heat Capacity

Other than absorbing more radiation, sand also has a lower heat capacity. This means that it takes less time to heat up and increase the temperature of sand than it takes for water. That is one of the main reasons why sand – almost instantly – gets hotter during the daytime and colder during the nighttime. 

On the other hand, water requires more energy to heat up. That is why it not only heats up slower but also does not get as hot as sand – apart from a few instances.

Check out this person cooking food using hot sand:

Difference in Surface Area

While heating up water, the molecules will diffuse more rapidly. That is why it can take a little longer to heat it up. However, in the case of sand, the molecules do not move as much. This causes the heat to build up rapidly and the specific surface at which the heat is being applied gets extremely hot as compared to water. 

Since water molecules move rapidly, they share their energy with the rest of the water, evenly distributing the heat. 

Water Evaporates

If you heat water enough, you will cause it to exceed its vapor pressure and eventually evaporate. This means that warmer water molecules eventually go away due to evaporation. However, this is not the case with sand at all. No matter how much you heat it, the sand will just sit there. This means that it will only get hotter instead of going away. 

That is why if you compare them both, sand gets hotter than water and also heats up much faster. 

Water is Transparent

Another reason why sand gets hotter than water is that water is transparent. What this does is that the heat penetrates the surface of the water and heats it from the inside as well. Since there is more area to heat, it can take a lot longer to reach the same temperature as sand.

On the other hand, the heat rarely penetrates the surface of the sand. That is why you’ll notice that sand is often colder if you dig it up but the surface will be extremely hot. 


Due to water being transparent, evaporating, and having a difference in surface area, it does not get as hot as sand. Plus, sand also absorbs more radiation and has a lower heat capacity, making it extremely hot when the sun hits it. Well, now you know why sand gets hotter than water!

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