I've been watching the original Lost in Space series (1965). In at least a couple of episodes, a character would fall or get pulled into "quicksand". In each case, the material is obviously dry - upon escape, the character's clothes are clean and dry. For example: in the cold open of the season 1 episode "A Change of Space", Smith falls into a pit of the stuff and completely disappears under its surface - it has a fluid-like behavior, but after his escape, only a few grains remain stuck to his costume, which remains dry. There doesn't appear to be any visual effect here; Smith's (or his stunt double's) momentary disappearance under the surface of this stuff appears to be entirely a practical effect. To get technical, it looks like some sort of light granular material that has a very shallow angle of repose

My question is: what did they use for the sand/dust or whatever, to achieve the effect?


1 Answer 1


My first guess was Vermiculite - the stuff they put in the bottom of the burner on "real flame" gas fires - I'm trying to track down some good confirmation of that...

Google Books - Eye on Science Fiction: 20 Interviews with Classic SF and Horror Filmmakers

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Answers.com - What can I use to make a quicksand scene for a film or a location? includes other possibilities, but doesn't differentiate between wet & dry...

Most common is sawdust and oil. Vermiculite and Fuller's Earth makes a quicksand almost safe enough to eat. Ground cork is one of the best ways, as it leaves the actors relatively clean when they're pulled out.

  • Chopped cork pieces might also be an option sans water - books.google.co.uk/…
    – Paulie_D
    Commented Nov 2, 2018 at 16:27
  • @Paulie_D - yup, mentioned in the 2nd link. I can find all sorts of stuff on wet quicksand, but dry is taking some tracking down
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Nov 2, 2018 at 16:33
  • Exfoliated vermiculite definitely has the required properties - its incredibly light (used as a light and absorbent packing material when transporting chemicals) and you could disappear under enough of it. It does tend to stick with static to clothing though.
    – iandotkelly
    Commented Nov 2, 2018 at 16:35
  • Also possible would be a fluidized sand bed as seen here. youtube.com/watch?v=My4RA5I0FKs
    – Marisa
    Commented Nov 2, 2018 at 17:38

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