There are five large mountains of pure sand and gravel on my map. I want to get rid of them as fast as I can before night comes and my brains get eaten. IS there a way to get rid of them without the use of a spade (I have none). The resources I have are a starter chest 3 torches 4 apples a stone ax and 5 blocks of wood. Any ideas? I have no wool to make beds and there are no sheep nearby.
I'm not trying to steal Celta's answer here but I feel like I'm explaining a bit more thoroughly. Starting with the basics is of course digging sand with a shovel or blowing it up with TNT, but that either takes a long time or makes a lot of mess (although the TNT method is great fun).
The quickest way by far is to first dig down until you reach the bottom of the sand mountain, so to the area where the sand either turns into sandstone or stone. If you reach that level you start digging horizontally but every time you dig the bottom sandstone block you quickly place a torch underneath there. This makes all the blocks that fall on the torch break. This also works for gravel. I don't know if it works with tripwire or redstone-dust but I'll try that when i get home in a few hours.
0 0 0 0 0 X S 0 0 0 0 0 X S 0 0 0 0 0 X S 0 0 0 0 0 I S 0 0 0 0 " I S S S S S S S S 0 = Your mountain of sand. I = You X = air S = Stone
Dig away the " block which is a sandblock (could be stone or anything else but probably sand) and when you dig it away quickly switch to torches and place a torch on the block beneath the pile. this will make all the blocks above break.
A use for this is also in survival when you build a big 1 block wide tower to see whats around you. You can jump off in water and then get rid of the ugly landmark by simply digging the bottom block and placing a torch and voila the entire tower is gone.
If you cant place a torch this fast you can also dig with a torch in hand. This does make it take a little bit longer to break the sand block but it does allow you to place the torch down immediately.
You could also dig an additional 2 blocks down (so into stone) and place a torch there. Then dig away the top stone block ( the one underneath sand ) and the sand will also fall on a torch.
0 0 0 0 0 X S 0 0 0 0 0 X S 0 0 0 0 0 X S 0 0 0 0 0 X S 0 0 0 0 0 X S S S S S > I S S S S S " I S S S S S S S S 0 = Your mountain of sand. I = You X = air S = Stone " = Torch > = the block to dig.
Place a torch underneath a stone block which lays underneath the sand you want gone. Break the stone block and the sand will still fall onto the torch.
I hope this helped if you want links you can still look at Celta's post.