Thank you for the reply.
I'm not necessarily looking for the cheapest substrate. I'm looking for something that is good and if I can avoid speciality product prices I'm very happy. Not trying to win awards. Just a nice tank at a nice price and low hassle.
I have been using black sand and root tabs all from a lfs. No problems my inexperienced eyes have noticed. But recently read about sand settling causing problems for roots growing and allowing a gas to build up that can wipe out an aquarium. My primary reason for choosing sand when I started was I heard shrimp like it. Then heard that food didn't get trapped and put of reach of inhabinets. Sometimes knowing less makes things easier.
Today I went out to get an oil dry clay. The one I originally wanted was not available. The oil dry I got should be the same clay stuff. Something that caught My attention was the health warnings; don't touch with bare hands, don't breath dust, causes cancer,... Is there anything I should be watching out for? How long would you recommend letting a tank cycle with the clay?