Almost all my tanks are sand. I use play sand (for kids sandboxes) that I bought dirt cheap (HA!) from Home Depot. On the bag it says it comes from freshwater lakes. It's very fine, prewashed and pale beige in colour. I still rinse it in a bucket, as it will produce some foam when first wet. Rinse until the water is clear and no more foam appears.
If you want colour, you can get Crayola play sand, which comes in colours such as dark blue etc.
DO NOT use marine tank or sea sand, it affects your water chemistry! Some will tell you seashells will also affect your water. I don't know for sure, so I just don't use them.
Getting the sand in is easier than it seems. Just take your bucket of rinsed, wet sand and scoop it by hand or kitchen ladle into the bottom of the tank. Your tank should be about half or three quarters full when you add the sand. You will find that sand moves like water when it's underwater; it settles and the water clears very fast. Once your sand is in, you can use a turkey baster or spoon to suck/scoop it up and arrange it however you want.
For cleaning, the gook tends to sit right on top of the sand. However, it's easy to suck up the sand in a gravel vacuum. I don't touch the surface of the sand with the vacuum, just swish the vacuum gently back and forth about half an inch above the sand, this will disturb the gook so you can suck it up, while stirring up a minimum of sand. You can also gently use a turkey baster. If you accidentally suck up some sand, it's easy to dump it back into the tank out of the bucket at the end.
Re gas bubbles, as per the above, vacuuming won't do anything for those. I take a chopstick and stir the sand up or stab it deep, this should break up any bubbles. Stabbing is best if you have a lot of plants or ornaments in your tank.
Re snails, my live plant tank is full of them and they don't seem affected by the sand. However, mine are the black snails that hitch a ride on live plants. I don't see why burrowing snails would have a problem with sand, though.
I know you didn't ask about live plants, but others might want to know. I put a layer of fluval plant substrate under the sand in my LP tank, it's basically dirt compressed into gravel-like rocks. Over time it has mixed partially with the sand but my plants seem to like it!